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Blazing a Path to the Internet

Blazing a Path to the Internet

May 5, 1995

Linda C. Joseph

ljoseph@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu


Abstract


Trailblazers, pathfinders, explorers are words that conjure up visions of individuals who venture into unknown territory and lead others to it. With the increased visibility of the Information Superhighway, educators are clamoring for training in how to navigate and harness this vast resource.

Developing an infrastructure for staff development is essential for integration of information access skills into the school curriculum. A school or district model for teaching Internet skills needs to include instructional design, facility development, hands-on workshops, follow- up training, and evaluation. By using these basic concepts, you can begin to change the way information is presented to students in the classroom. The teacher becomes a facilitator and students are empowered to be active, engaging learners.


Contents

1 Background

2 Facility Development

3 Instructional Design

4 Follow-Up

5 Evaluation

References

Author Information


1 Background

The World Link Project addresses these concepts and establishes a model for other educators to follow. With an initial grant of $2,000 from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, a training model was created and used with a prototype class of twenty teachers and curriculum supervisors in February, 1994.

A second grant was received from the Columbus Foundation in February, 1994. The proposal was a collaborative effort between the Columbus Public Schools and the Greater Columbus Freenet. The Greater Columbus Freenet is a community-based bulletin board system arranged like a town square where local information about city government, libraries, schools, and other organizations can be located. It also offers a gateway to the Internet. The goals were 1) to provide hands-on staff development for a team of library media specialists, library assistants, teachers, and administrators from each building on how to use the Greater Columbus Freenet and Internet; 2) to place a modem in each school library media center after the training was completed; 3) to provide the Greater Columbus Freenet with a second file server; and 4) to work cooperatively with the Greater Columbus Freenet as information providers.

2 Facility Development

The training site was initially located at a local high school Macintosh computer lab. Ten telephone lines and modems were installed for dial-up access to The Ohio State University's campus network. The university provided ten guest accounts at no charge. Due to increased levels of technology usage by the staff and students at the high school, a new location had to be found. In November, 1994 limited access to the Adult Community Education lab was provided. It was available for use on Monday and Friday mornings. Although no release time or substitute teachers were provided, creative ways were found for people to attend the classes.

The ideal training facility should consist of ten or more computer workstations connected to a local area network and directly linked to the Internet by a minimum standard T1 high speed telephone line. Fiber connection would be ideal. The workstations should have enough processing speed, memory, and storage space to handle the large amounts of data to be transferred. Although most computers can power basic connectivity, the Macintosh Power PCs and Pentiums with ethernet cards are the workstations of choice. When showing teachers and students how to become information providers a color scanner, printer, digital camera, VCR, camcorder, TV, and midi keyboard would be valuable additions.

3 Instructional Design

There are three components included in the instructional design: hands- on training, instruction manual, and monthly newsletter. Teams of educators from each school attend hands-on workshops for six hours of Internet training. The Internet instruction manual World Link An Internet Guide for Educators, Parents, and Students is user friendly with step-by-step instructions, while the monthly newsletter also called World Link keeps users up-to-date on Internet sites, projects, and lesson plans.

Over 500 district staff have completed the hands-on training covering the following topics: e-mail, information access (gopher), and file retrieval (downloading). These are the primary navigation tools for using the Greater Columbus Freenet. Five Library Media Specialists provide the Internet training. Instructions are also given on installation of the modem and software.

4 Follow-UP

Follow-up is provided by additional hands-on classes (refresher, intermediate, and advanced), users group, and a help desk.

Advanced workshops include project design, how to become an information provider, digitizing photographs and artwork, and creating and uploading files. Student projects, curriculum resources, and other information will be posted to the Greater Columbus Freenet as a result of this training.

A user's group has been established to support teachers in the use of the Greater Columbus Freenet and Internet. Some of the topics include Child Safety on the Information Highway, Newbie Tips, and K12Pals Listserv. In addition the instructors are available via voice or e-mail to answer questions or troubleshoot. Visits are made to schools having difficulty setting up the hardware and software.

An area for the Columbus Public School District has been established on the Greater Columbus Freenet. This area is used by designated information providers to disseminate information about school activities, curriculum and instruction, the district television (CESN) and radio (WCBE) programming schedules, and newsletters. Individual schools are gearing up to be information providers over the next two years.

5 Evaluation

Pillbug Project at Linden Park, Columbus, Ohio

Seven schools in North America learned about the environmental habitat of pillbugs and shared their findings by sending e-mail to each other over the Internet.

Egg-A-Thon

Schools around the world participated in a variety of activities. They were grouped together to share e-mail, decorated eggs, and the results from a variety of projects. In one project students designed and sent a package containing a raw egg to the other schools in their group.

Connecting to the Greater Columbus Freenet and the Internet has allowed teachers to access lesson plans, curriculum models, and collaborate with colleagues. Students have been able to participate in projects, conduct research, and communicate with peers.

Online usage statistics are kept as part of the library media center's quarterly report. This allows us to track the number of times searches are made. In addition, the quarterly report provides areas for written comments on utilization of information access skills with the curriculum.

While use of the Internet by teachers and students is increasing, there is a need to network all the schools and provide each classroom with Internet connection. Part of the solution will be through the Ohio SchoolNet Project which will wire all schools in Ohio for voice, video, and data. A second solution is the work that will be done through a National Science Foundation grant. By leveraging these funds, business partnerships can be formed to provide additional support.


References

[1]
F. D'Ignazio, and S. Goth-Tew, "Teacher Explorers, Pioneers, and Settlers," The Computing Teacher., vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 38 - 40.

Author Information


Linda C. Joseph

Linda Joseph is currently a Library Media Specialist with the Columbus Public Schools working out of the District Library Media Center. Ms. Joseph's responsibilities include inservicing district staff on networking and on-line database access and curriculum utilization. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Bowling Green State University and holds a certificate in Computer Science. Her specialties include multiplatform computer systems/applications and electronic access skills on FirstSearch, BRS, Dialog, America Online, CompuServe, and Internet. Ms. Joseph initiated the use of information and telecommunications technology in the Columbus Public Schools and provides support to teachers, library media specialists, and district staff. She is the author of World Link: An Internet Guide for Educators, Parents, and Students and publishes a monthly newsletter with the same title.

During the Conference on Teaching and Learning sponsored by the Ohio Department of Education, she received the Governor's Pathfinder Award for Educational Technology. In addition, Ms. Joseph was the recipient of The Golden Apple Achiever Award given by Ashland Oil. She has spoken at many local, state, national, and international conferences.

Linda C. Joseph
Columbus Public Schools
Library Media Services
737 East Hudson Street
Columbus, Ohio 43211


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