Maryland online Internet in schools: Glendening aims to link computer technology to every Md. classroom.

June 19, 1996

INFORMATION IS POWER. And in this age of computers, access to information can be the key to success. That's why Gov. Parris Glendening heralded his plan to bring the Internet to every Maryland public school student. It opens vast educational possibilities, but also some serious concerns.

This is a sweeping effort to wire all 1,262 Maryland public schools by the fall and to provide the equipment and training to put at least three computers in every classroom by 2001. The cost would be roughly $10 million a year.

One of the most appealing aspects of the governor's plan is that it makes the Internet available to many schools that don't have the funds to go online. As Cecil County's school chief put it, "Being a poor county, we can't afford to spend the money on the equipment" needed to hook up to the worldwide web.

Now students in schools both rich and poor, rural and urban, will benefit from hands-on computer learning and information-gathering. Young adults in search of jobs need advanced computer literary.

Yet some experts have strong reservations. In affluent Montgomery County, where 40 percent of the schools are already online, the school chief says results are "spotty." There is legitimate concern students won't know how to wade through the vast sea of information on the worldwide web to find a few nuggets. Instead, they may simply pull up the first thing they find, be it superficial, ideological or pure drivel. Pornography is also a problem.

The secret to making this project work is teacher training, both in learning how to master the Internet and how to incorporate computer research into the curriculum. Nearly $1 million a year will be spent on educating the educators. That's money well spent. It will be up to teachers to guide students so they are well schooled in the technology and discipline that turns the worldwide web into a treasure-trove of knowledge.

Pub Date: 06/19/96

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