Technology for All Americans Project

Phase I

Introduction

In an effort to increase the technological literacy of all Americans, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) funded Phase I of this project to develop a nationally viable rationale and structure for technology education. This effort, spearheaded by the International Technology Education Association (ITEA), is called "Technology for All Americans." The project's goal in Phase I was to offer those who are interested in technology education a clear vision of what it means to be technologically literate, how this can be achieved at a national level, and why it is important for the nation.

The Technology for All Americans Project set out to achieve this goal by establishing a National Commission composed of persons who were especially aware of the need for a technologically literate society. Members represented the fields of engineering, science, mathematics, the humanities, education, government, professional associations, and industry. The 25-member Commission served in an advisory capacity to the project staff and functioned independently of both the project and ITEA. The Commission served as a vital resource of experts knowledgeable about technology and its interface with science, mathematics, engineering, and education.

A team of six writing consultants was formed from the National Commission. Throughout the process, the writing consultants represented a wealth of knowledge, extensive background, and a unique diversity that played an important role in the development of the rationale and structure document.

Building Consensus

The rationale and structure document, in draft form, went through a dynamic development evolution as a result of a very structured consensus process. The consensus process involved a series of workshops, along with individual reviews and comments, that ultimately involved the scrutiny of more than 500 reviewers inside and outside the profession of technology education.

The first workshop was held at the ITEA Conference in March 1995 in Nashville, Tennessee to gain input from the profession on the formative items in the rationale and structure document. During the initial review process that took place during August 1995, a draft document was mailed to and reviewed by more than 150 professionals, who were selected via a nomination process. Each state supervisor for technology education and president of state associations for technology education were asked to nominate mathematics, science, and technology educators from elementary through high school levels to participate in a series of consensus-building workshops. The workshops were hosted by seven NASA field centers around the country. The draft document was disseminated to the participants prior to the consensus-building workshop. They were asked to review the draft document, respond to several prepared questions, and provide comments directly on their copy of the draft. At the workshops, participants from 38 states and one territory were divided into heterogeneous groups that represented the interest groups of those involved (i.e., elementary school, middle school, high school, mathematics, science, technology). These small groups were then asked to respond to prepared questions as a group and come to consensus on the content of the draft document.

Input and reactions from the field were very valuable during the consensus process. Perspectives were shared that had not been discussed in prior writing consultants' meetings. Ideas for improving the draft document were generated from the group synergism and regional philosophies or viewpoints were acknowledged. This input was analyzed to determine the needed changes for the document's content. Changes then were made to reflect the data from the summer workshops. In addition, these changes were "tried out" with groups throughout the fall of 1995 at state and regional conferences. The project staff found that by focusing on areas of concern identified from the summer review process, the changes that were made in subsequent versions of the draft document were well received.

Changes and revisions go hand-in-hand with the consensus process. This process continued throughout the fall until a second version of the draft document was disseminated for review in October to December, 1995. This second draft was disseminated to more than 250 people at eight regional locations in the United States. This group contained a large number of administrators. It was felt that an important part of the consensus process includes a "buy-in" component. In other words, if technology education is to become a core subject in the nation's schools, then those who hold the power to enable this vision to become real must be involved in the front end of this process.

Additional efforts were made to expand the audience that reviewed this document by making it available to anyone having access to the Internet. Throughout this project, a home page was maintained in an effort to disseminate timely material. Access to the draft document became part of the home page in December 1995 and reviewers were invited to fill out a comment and review form on-line and submit it to the project for consideration prior to the final revisions. The final version of the rationale and structure document represents the broad support and input that was provided throughout this consensus process.


Copies of the document, Technology for All Americans: A Rationale and Structure for the Study of Technology are available from the International Technology Education Association, 1914 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191, phone (703) 860-2100, fax (703) 860-0353, email itea@iris.org


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