Hi-tech how-to in New York

New York City has pioneered computer literacy and computer curriculum development for teachers, plus rigorous courseware evaluation by administrative staff.

''We couldn't believe the interest our teachers showed for learning about how the computer could help them in the classroom,'' says Charlotte Frank, executive director of the city's division of curriculum and instruction. ''We had to stop being incredulous quickly, though, and provide the training they were seeking.'' A new computer and information science unit was created to provide citywide leadership in computer education.

With more than 1,000 buildings, 918,000 students, and 55,000 teachers in New York schools, 33 independent local school boards throughout its five boroughs, and a severe local budget crunch complicated by federal cutbacks, it was ''flexibility and grass-roots participation for any citywide computer plan,'' Ms. Frank says.

In the first six months of the 1982-83 academic year, New York trained more than 5,000 teachers in microcomputer skills in 27 satellite training centers. Interest throughout the nation's most populous school system was so great that teachers were charged $25 for 20 hours of computer workshops. Extensive summer sessions are planned for July and August.

All software for the district must funnel through the division of curriculum and instruction as well. ''This is to ensure quality control,'' Ms. Frank says of a central administration role in a city long renowned for its leadership in curriculum evaluation and development.

''We have cooperative agreements with both MECC and EPIE (see Page B13) on mutual criteria for instructional software and are in the process of establishing a (computer network) for the city similar to the network MECC has for Minnesota,'' she says.

New York has also set guidelines for hardware compatibility. All equipment purchases paid for by district funds must be one of six machines: Apple, Radio Shack TRS-80s, Atari, Commodore PET, Texas Instruments, or IBM personal computers.

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