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Abstract -- Setting up a Computer Mediated Communication Network for Secondary Schools Education Track
D3: New Initiatives To Support School Networking

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Setting up a Computer Mediated Communication Network for Secondary Schools

Cagiltay, Kursat ( kursat@knidos.cc.metu.edu.tr)
Ozgit, Attila ( ozgit@knidos.cc.metu.edu.tr)
Askar, Petek ( askarp@rorqual.cc.metu.edu.tr)

Abstract

High performance communication and computing systems have a major impact on learning and teaching. They can provide teachers and students with an abundance of up-to-date information and communications resources, encourage purposeful writing, increase students motivation to learning, and help students and teachers to share ideas. There are many ways to integrate telecommunications into education, including electronic mail exchanges, electronic publishing, pooled data analysis and database creation, information searches, electronic process writing, problem solving and social action projects. (Harris, 1993)

During the 1980s, Turkey laid the foundation for her transition to an information based economy (IBE). But the formal education system has not been able to respond adequately to broad shifts in occupational structure; nor the need for a specialized informatics profession. In order to overcome this weakness Turkey has initiated a project for setting up a computer mediated communication network among 53 secondary schools (Computer Experimental Schools Project-CES). This project is running under the control of National Ministry of Education, Directorate of Information Technology in Education (DITE). Financial support is supplied by the World Bank. CES project's initial aim in establishing a communications network is three-fold. These are related with evaluation and maintenance, curriculum and training. Ultimately this will lead to an increased interaction among schools through services like electronic mail (e-mail), computer conferencing, access to on-line databases and electronic bulletin boards (BBS).

In accomplishing this project, each CES school equipped with basic hardware and software is expected to use this potential in teaching and learning. This approach backed up with a participation in a computer-mediated communication network can provide a technological and pedagogical edge to the CES schools.

The goals of the project could be summarized as follows:

1. Instruction goals:
Cooperative project work among national schools and schools abroad, on English as a second language, problem solving in mathematics, science (biology, physics and chemistry), social sciences (history, geography). Establishment of an information bulletin networks. Students and teachers access to learning resources.
2. Training goals:
Teacher training through computer-aided distance learning. Provide links among educators at all levels for professional development. Distribution of information from Ministry of Education.
3. Implementation and maintenance goals
For sending and receiving e-mail about certain problems and solutions discovered during implementation. Maintaining a help desk through e-mail to help schools solve their technical problems.
In order to achieve these goals and functions, CES schools will have Local Area Networks (LAN), a wide area network (WAN) connection and a network based user interface software will be developed.

With the installation of 53 schools equipment, each school will have basic equipment and software to participate in a computer-mediated communications network. Establishing such a network could be a part of a cost-effective strategy for providing both technological and pedagogical support to those schools. CES (Computer Experimental Schools) project will be a major step for the country to leap to the informatics society. In this paper, CES project will be presented along with its details, experiences, technical and administrative problems, political concerns, user support, training and assessment.