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Cover October 12, 1998

Issues in Technology and Education
A New Iteachnet Series

Iteachnet is introducing a new series beginning with this issue on Issues in Technology and Education. This will be just the first of a series of cover articles that iteachnet will be publishing this year on topics of importance to educators around the world. Other series that we are currently at work on are: Issues on Living and Working Overseas, and Teaching in the Hot Spots.

During my years of teaching and administration overseas, I found, both in face-to-face interactions and via the internet, that there are many educators working in their home countries who wish to pursue a career working overseas but have no idea about what life is like living and working overseas. Similarly, I have met many educators who are new to the overseas life and want to know what life is like outside of their small corner of the world. The international teacher who has been in London or Paris for a few years usually has no more idea about what life is like working in a small school in a remote area than the American teacher who has worked in Los Angeles their whole career or the German teacher who has spent her entire career teaching in Munich. And yet, international teachers are usually nomadic in nature - moving on to a new post after a few years teaching in one spot. We have a curiousity to know what other places and peoples are like. I would like to be able to use Iteachnet to help us "meet" one another and share our experiences - develop a global culture of overseas educators that goes beyond the regional consciousness and culture that we develop through our contacts with colleagues at educational gatherings like SEATCCO. It is my hope that these new series that we are introducing will be one step in that direction. I would like to take this opportunity to invite colleagues working both overseas and at home to submit articles on the three series that Iteachnet is currently developing. We also welcome responses and letters to the editor about cover articles. Please submit articles, queries, or letters to the editor to me at

In just the past four years, communication has been radically and inalterably transformed for the majority of overseas educators. The days of dependence on traditional mail (what is generally now called "snail mail") and telex to transmit written data from one point to another has now been effectively transcended by the general usage of fax, e-mail, and the world wide web. One of the questions that faces us as educators charged with the responsibility of helping lead our students into a changing world is what our vision for the future is and how we, ourselves, are adapting and utilizing developing technology.

When I began my former position in 1989 as a teacher in the remote mining town of Tembagapura which was located in the highlands of Irian Jaya on the island of New Guinea, the only way for us to communicate with the outside world was via snail mail, telex, and telephone. Communication with the United States or Europe generally took a month or more via mail, telex usage for the general employee population was restricted and inconsistent in results, and telephone communications were the same. By 1994 the company had introduced the internet to the Tembagapura community. Almost overnight we were able to correspond with friends, family members, and colleagues on a daily basis. Financial, family, and professional problems that had previously been major sources of stress and distraction, now became less of a problem than buying fresh fruits and vegetables in the local store. If there was a disturbance in the country, we were now able to reassure family and friends in a manner of minutes that we were fine and unaffected by recent activities. If we were not sure about the source of a quote, the most current data on a topic that we were teaching, or in need of a graphic for a new project that we were preparing, we could access the internet for assistance. When it was time to begin looking for another position, the internet and the fax machine was there to help us find out where the hiring conferences were being held. Technology has had a major impact on the lives of international educators.

One issue that faces educators, especially those currently working oveseas, is how to go about finding new employment. With the world facing an economic crisis that deepens by the day, many schools are cutting back on hiring perks for both teachers and administrators. What role will technology play in our new circumstances? Please read below for the perspective of a long-time international administrator on the use of new technology in the hiring process.

Bruce Pohlmann, Editor

Riding Bandwidth to a New Job: Fact or Fantasy

By Bruce Goforth
Elementary and Middle School Principal, Lahore American School

Will the advent of video conferencing via the internet replace the recruitment conference circuit in staffing international schools? (Reducing the cost of changing positions for both candidates and schools.) This question was posed to me by editor, Bruce Pohlmann, during my recent evacuation from Pakistan as we peered across the azure seas of Bali, Bintang in hand.

Since then I have spoken with several school heads to get their opinions on whether this technology will meet their interview needs. The general consensus was that school heads would use internet video conferencing as a screening element in the recruiting process to develop short lists of the hottest candidates. However, there remains a strong sense that meeting across the table rather than across cyberspace provides a more intimate interaction between interviewer and candidate. The one to one interview creates a superior opportunity to gain important insights into personality, philosophy, idiosyncrasies, and intangibles that are important elements in the selection process.

This of course begs the question , won't these elements prove to be observable through the video conferencing format. The present state of video conferencing replies with a resounding, no. Internet bandwidth, modem/line speed and software are so limited that observations of behavior or tonal qualities are poor at best. The slow transmission rates cause images to be erratic and generally unsatisfactory. Experimentation with the video conferencing application CU-SeeMe (White Pine Software by colleagues for various functions has resulted in their frustration. This will change as hardware and software difficulties are overcome. However, until this occurs and school heads are able to use video conferencing easily and effectively on a daily basis, as with email, it will be perceived as inadequate substitute for traditional interviews.

Previous Cover: Welcome to Our New Year, By Bruce Pohlmann

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