Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II)
Junior high school meeting

Broadening Internet Usage
—from hardware to applications—

Kazuto Orita, Maebashi Daiyon Junior High School

1. Introduction

In several years, every school in Japan will be connected to the Internet. People considering getting access to the Internet usually want to how they can be hooked up and what they'll need, and they generally bring with them a certain number of expectations and anxieties. Before anyone gets on the Internet, there are a number of things he or she should prepare for and consider.

In this paper, I would like to talk about the requirements for Internet use in a school setting, examining three aspects: materials, opportunities, and human resources.


2. Equipment and preparing an environment in which students can learn (materials)

We need to be able to offer students of the 21st century the opportunity to learn using the Internet. At our school, we felt that we needed to create an environment in which students would have free and independent access to computers and to the Internet. To accomplish this goal, we have expanded our in-school networking system every year, increasing the number of computers that are connected to the Internet as follows:

Fiscal year

Access line

Server

Client

Computers installed in

1994

Analog line 24 kbps

PANIX (1)

Windows 3.1 (1)

the computer room

1995

Analog line 24 kbps

PANIX (1)

Windows 95 b (7)

the international exchange room, the teachers' room

1996

Analog line 24 kbps

NT (1), FreeBSD (2)

Windows 95 (40), NC (10)

all regular classrooms, special classrooms

1997

Digital line 64 kbps

NT (1), FreeBSD (1)

Windows 95 (40), NC (10)

the entire school


Now, we can access the Internet from any classroom. We're able to do this for two reasons: we've had a leased line that we can use as long as we need; and from the beginning, we have had a server to access the Internet, allowing us to operate and expand the in-school network freely.


3. Internet-related curriculum (opportunities)

To teach students how to use the Internet as a tool to solve problems, we need to offer well-planned lessons on a regular basis. Students also need to learn netiquette—proper rules and manners for using the Internet—and how to collect and publish information effectively. There was no course that taught such material, so we began offering a unit called "basic information" in our technical arts and home economics classes, taught intermittently to each grade throughout the year, for a total of ten hours. In each grade, students learn the following step-by-step:

We try to teach all these things simultaneously in a problem-solving study, rather than teaching each one separately. The necessity of achieving certain goals in every subject and preparing for high school entrance examinations limits our ability to carry out a comprehensive study. To expand the scope of our study, we offered optional courses and a cross-curriculum to create more opportunities for independent study. We also established new committees, including the international exchange committee, to increase student opportunities to use the Internet. We decided to leave the computer room open during breaks and after school, so that students could use the computers and the Internet freely.


4. Training and support for teachers (human resources)

The number of computers we have and the Internet training we offer students is meaningless if teachers can't give their students the opportunity to use the Internet in class. This requires training for teachers. We have been training our teachers how to use computers and the Internet for the past three years, but not every teacher uses the Internet in lessons. As a result, a considerable gap has widened between teachers who use it and ones who don't. This year we applied the teaching plan for students to teachers, offering training that focused on improving lessons through use of the Internet, based on the following:
Each teacher chose a theme to study and conducted actual lessons in the training. From the planning stage, we discussed when and how teachers should supervise student independent activities, including problem-solving, and how students should make use of the Internet to solve them. We also provided continuous support to teachers from the preparation stage.
As a result, most teachers learned how to conduct lessons using the Internet. Seeing students actively working on problems using the Internet made teachers more aware of the value of using the Internet in their classes, and acquainted them with some of the associated problems.


5. Benefits and problems

As a result of our efforts, students learned how to use the Internet as a tool in solving various problems. We noticed the following benefits:

But a number of unsolved problems remain.

6. Conclusion

Connecting a school to the Internet is a starting point, not an end in itself. The important issue is how we use the Internet, once we're prepared to use it. As I mentioned before, preparing to use the Internet involves the whole school, including establishing conditions for using a network (material), drawing up a curriculum for using the Internet in information education and other subjects (opportunity), and training and supporting teachers (human resources). Our school couldn't have established our system without studying various examples from other schools and soliciting the advice of people with more experience, or without the cooperation of local volunteers. I hope that more and more schools including ones that plan to access the Internet can share and exchange information to improve conditions for using the Internet.


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