Conference To Look At Technology's Effect On Families And Education

October 03, 1997

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -= The computer, the Internet and other developing technologies are bringing changes to home and school life. But is it all for the good? Does everyone have access? What are the challenges that come with the benefits? And does it all improve the quality of life or education?

These will be among the questions addressed by policy makers, educators, technology experts and parents at the Families, Technology and Education Conference, to be held Oct. 30 through Nov. 1 at the Wyndham Hotel in northwest Chicago. The conference is sponsored by the federally funded Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) and the National Parent Information Network (NPIN), the latter based at the University of Illinois.

Linda Roberts, director of the Office of Educational Technology in the U.S. Department of Education, will be the featured luncheon speaker on Friday (Oct. 31), addressing the future of the president's initiatives on technology literacy.

Other participants include Joe Panepinto of Family PC magazine, on policing the World Wide Web; Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, on home schooling and technology; Barbara Bowman, president of the Erikson Institute, Chicago; and Lilian Katz, director of the U. of I.-based ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. The George Lucas Educational Foundation will show a film titled "Live and Learn."

Most of the conference's 45 sessions will be concentrated in five areas: applying technology to programs for families and educators; equity in access to computing technology; use of technology with children with special needs or abilities; the Internet, mass media and family life; and using technology to link schools, families and students.

"We've tried to develop the conference in a way to bring about some really thoughtful analysis of how these programs are working," says Anne Robertson, NPIN's parenting educator and an organizer of the conference. "We've kept reminding the presenters that we're looking at how their technology or program is affecting the quality of life for families."

ERIC is a national information database system, with 16 information clearinghouses located throughout the United States, that claims to be "the world's largest source of education information."

NPIN is an outgrowth of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Started in 1993, NPIN is co-sponsored by both the U. of I. clearinghouse and the ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, based at Columbia University.

Anyone interested in attending the conference -- or in learning more about the publicly accessible ERIC and NPIN systems -- should call (800) 583-4135 or check the NPIN Web page at The conference registration fee is $300.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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