Schools are anxious to get their classrooms on the Internet and are rushing to connectivity. Before raising our guns with the command "ready, fire, aim", I suggest we take time to aim and give strong thought to how we plan to use multimedia and telecommunications tools to enhance our learning environments. We need to consider how the telephone, computer, modem, and multimedia might enrich the learning process and enable us to develop children into motivated life-long learners. We need to think about how our children can better learn for understanding and what it really means to be computer literate. Computer literacy is more than word processing; it should be something more like "idea processing".
For connectivity in the classroom and home to succeed and improve learning environments, we must simultaneously think about the appropriate learning methodologies to accompany the new tools. Similarly the developers of these tools need to give strong thought to their users and tailor the tools accordingly. "Distance learning" is not merely piping in a videotaped lecture over closed-circuit television. Dynamic reports from children should be more than documents made by electronically cutting and pasting from CD Roms.
New technologies now enable students to create "superessays" -- allowing students to delve into subject material to develop a deep understanding of the perhaps abstract and complicated topic they are investigating. We can't create new learning situations by copying our old methods over to the new media. We must rethink what the new media might offer to a learning environment.
To help us think about these questions and gain insight into how people are using multimedia tools for learning for understanding, Apple Computer's Learning Concepts Group and eight Los Angles area schools, have formed a collaborative consortium. This group has created a high-speed, wide area telecommunications network to run trials on new methodologies and practices for learning environments. We believe this network will change the way these schools function and interact in the future.
The School Networking Action Project ("SNAP") received installation of T1 lines and Frame Relay service from Pacific Bell (though its CalREN project) and from GTE (through it's California Education Initiative). This service will allow the participating schools to communicate through a single, wide area network, making it possible for teachers and students to collaborate on projects, access people and information, share ideas, and create new curriculum.
The school consortium is comprised of two Los Angeles Unified public schools -- The Open Charter School and Westwood Charter School, the five schools which make up the Beverly Hills Unified School District, UC Riverside's California Museum of Photography, Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School; and UCLA's Graduate School of Education. UCLA is providing the Internet service to each of the schools within the consortium.
In her presentation at INET '95, Ms. Rose will describe the multi-school project and discuss how collaboration between schools, homes, businesses and community service providers can be a model for learning environments of the future.
She will also discuss the idea of the student as publisher and creator of the "superessay" an html format, media rich document which students can create gaining them a deep understanding of the subject material together with providing a constructive learning experience with the Internet and World Wide Web.