Models of Grassroots Empowerment in Educational Telecommunications
National SchoolNet Office
More than software and cable-linked computers, Canada's SchoolNet
is an evolving virtual learning community. Inspired by, and building
upon, the FreeNet concept, SchoolNet brings people together to
learn, to communicate, to collaborate, and to share ideas. Serving
as a catalyst to discovery, SchoolNet bridges the gaps of isolation
and distance while enabling wide public access to resources of
information and knowledge. This paper discusses the history, focus,
accomplishments, and vision of SchoolNet:
- History: The development of SchoolNet is traced, from the germinal
idea, through its implementation phases, to its future technological
vision. Also, the evolutionary trajectory of SchoolNet is contextually
situated relative to parallel international educational telecommunications
initiatives and relative to the literature.
- Focus: Where is technology going? Can we predict the future of
education? The paper describes how SchoolNet is implementing the
challenges of co-modification of computer-mediated education within
a people-centered framework and user-contoured interface.
- Accomplishments: SchoolNet has developed a number of exemplary
models for facilitating intersectorial partnerships with educators
at all levels, for empowering teachers and students to take charge
of curriculum design and delivery, and for connectivity, including
options to develop a broad coalition of users across countries,
demographics, and psychographics. It also role-models a de facto
standard for grassroots participation.
- Vision: SchoolNet is a multidimensional, grassroots-directed,
technology-driven, collaborative initiative empowering multifaceted
community lifelong learning, communication, and sharing of information,
ideas, and knowledge.