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

Creating a Home Page to Develop a Network for Our Area

Kimihiko Inoue and Tetsuo Akiyama, Junior High School Attached to the Faculty
of Education of Yamanashi University

1. Introduction

Since we began using computers in FY 1983, we've explored ways to incorporate computers for group use in school lessons. We installed 21 computers in our computer room in FY1988, and we've used them in lessons, mainly using software we created ourselves.

In FY 1994, when Yamanashi University went online, we got an access line for our own school as well. We participated in the 100-School Networking Project, set up a server, and established a subnet. Our present status for computer use is discussed in the "Report for FY 1997" on our home page. The current home page has links to results of our activities in FY 1995 and 1996.

2. Activities in FY 1997

This year, Yamanashi Prefectural Education Center launched an area collaboration project. We decided to create a home page as part of this project to introduce junior high schools in Yamanashi to each other, by supplying on our home page information such as the characteristics of each school, their location and size, and the characteristics of the surrounding areas.

Yamanashi prefecture has a relatively small number of junior high schools: 99 public schools, 3 private schools, and one national school, for a total of 103 schools. Despite the small size of the prefecture, each region has its own distinct characteristics. For example, the south part borders Shizuoka and has a warm climate with lots of rain throughout the year, while the north part borders Nagano and is very cold in winter. The Kofu Basin, where our school is located, has some of the hottest summer weather, and yet is very cold in winter.

We asked every junior high school in the prefecture to cooperate with us in creating a home page that would describe the characteristics of each area and the unique activities of each school to people from all over Japan.

Last October, we sent a letter asking for various kinds of information. About half of them were answered and returned with the information requested. We also requested links for home pages for those schools already having one. We entered into our home page the data for schools that sent us information, and sent a second letter to schools that didn't respond the first time. We're currently entering data for schools which responded the second time.

3. Educational effects

Right now, the home page doesn't have information for every school, and we are still entering information. To date, the educational payoffs of this project remain negligible, but we foresee the following benefits:

(1) Students will be able to acquire material on areas that their schools don't currently offer, including a particular region's history, weather, and cultural assets.

(2) Students can come to understand the unique characteristics of their own school by comparing it to others, including differences in school or its student council events, and size.

(3) Students will be able to communicate with students from other schools to exchange information on similar school events.

We need to review and improve the information offered on our home page to achieve these effects.

4. Benefits and problems

We began our project this year by requesting the cooperation of other junior high schools in the prefecture. We're just beginning, and haven't yet accomplished much. Still, we believe that our home page will be useful in bringing about the educational effects mentioned above once students have better access to the Internet.

We've observed some problems this year, which largely fall into two categories: problems concerning home page contents, and problems concerning the time and labor needed to create a home page.

(1) Problems concerning home page contents

Since we need detailed information to accurately portray the characteristics of each area and school, we have to determine what information is valuable. In doing this, we need to be careful about copyright infringements and the right to use photographs. Some schools sent us material and brochures published by their town offices. Before using these on our home page, we contacted the offices and asked for permission to use the material. Some of these requests were denied, for anxieties about how such information might be used. The possibility of such denied permission is a reality we have to live with.

(2) Problems concerning the time and labor needed to create a home page

The important thing for us and the teachers whom we ask to cooperate with us is developing a close working relationship with students, and trying to improve our understanding of them. Among the various skills we need to teach them as we approach the 21st century, information skills are probably among the most critical. But teaching these skills on a regular basis is very difficult when no set time has been allotted to do so.

I think information skills will become more valuable when every school has access to the Internet and can run and update its own home page. By then, I hope, the issue of necessary class time for information education may be solved.

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