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

Using a Networking System in our High School General Curriculum

Masaki Nakazato, Urawashiritsu High School

1. Introduction

Located in the southern part of Saitama Prefecture, our school is a general high school. It has nine classrooms for each grade, with 27 classrooms in all. Almost all of our students hope to go to college, and about 70% of them pass the entrance examination for entrance to a university or junior college. Our clubs are also very active. Our athletic club participates in the national athletic meet every year, our soccer club was one of the best eight teams in the nation last year, the broadcasting club always participates in the national competition, and the brass band is highly ranked in our prefecture. For our school trip, students visit Chengchou Henan in China, a sister city of Urawa city, getting to know high school students from this region.

At our school, students spend 34 hours per week in classes. Each week we teach an additional hour on Mondays and Wednesdays, so that students can have Saturdays off. From the tenth grade, students are divided into a science course and a general course. Because our schedule is so full, it's difficult to spare one credit to teach students how to use computers. Accordingly, we've decided to promote computer use around the following two themes.

(1) Everyday use of a network

(2) Network use within the regular curriculum




2. Our school's networking system

We first got on the Internet using a server and a client computer provided by the 100-School Networking Project. A half year later, we connected 21 computers to the Internet in the information study room. However, only a few teachers interested in computers actually used the Internet.

A year later, we extended the network from the information study room to the teacher's room. More teachers began using the Internet for e-mail, while international exchange students began exchanging e-mail with family and friends almost daily.

When the 100-School Networking Project was completed and this phase started, with the help of teachers and an organization that supports our school, we extended the network from the teacher's room to the library, mathematics room, social studies room, physics lab, chemistry lab, biology lab, geography room, academic counseling room, and college information room. The computers in these rooms are used primarily by teachers. But in the library, students have free access to two computers, which they stand in line to use to look for study materials and to send e-mail, until the library closes.

Connecting a computer to a network changes the way you think about computers. Without a network, you use only information you've placed in the computer, and the information available in this format tends to be outdated, expensive, or both. But when you have access to the Internet, you have on-the-spot access to the latest information, current newspapers being one example. You have access to a near-instantaneous e-mail network. Connected to such a network, a computer is not merely an information-processing machine, but a tool to gather, process, and distribute information.

When the 100-School Networking Project started three years ago, we knew nothing about networking, not was there was anyone to go to for help. Nevertheless, we established a networking system and installed equipment and software by ourselves following instructions from books and magazines. We somehow managed to connect to a server, using UNIX, and now have access to the WWW through a second server. We also offer ftp, mail, and telnet servers. We still face many difficulties, but the OCN is established. I feel that we've built a solid foundation for Internet use.


3. Lessons using a network at our school

In some lessons, we use a network as a tool to collect information. In others, we teach how a network functions. In our politics and economics course for tenth graders and in the moral philosophy course for twelfth graders, we use a network to collect information. In the physics IA course of the general curriculum for eleventh graders, students learn how a network actually functions.

(1) Using a network as a tool to collect information

In our politics and economics course for tenth graders, in addition to regular work, students are required to do research and present a research report to the class.

Students once collected research materials from books and CD-ROMs found in the library, but most of the themes selected by students tended to focus on new topics, on which library materials provided little information. The Internet offers a wealth of information, such as newspaper articles, making it possible for students to get the materials they need through search engines.

In our moral philosophy course for twelfth graders, we introduce debating. We divide the students into groups of four, choose an issue, and have one group take an affirmative stance, and another the negative one. The remaining groups act as judges and record detailed observations. Students put a great deal of energy into their research and into their arguments, because their grade depends on this work. Last year, some students used the Internet to collect material for this lesson and found it very efficient. As a result, many other students this year are using the Internet. Having access to this information source doesn't guarantee good work: one group that managed to collect a large amount of information using the Internet were unable to grasp a meaning for their research, failed to advance a coherent argument, and consequently lost their debate.

(2) Lessons in how a networking system functions (learning about networking literacy)

Eleventh graders at our schools study one of three different curriculums: general course 1, general course 2, and science. In general course 1, students are required to take two credits of geography 1A and two credits of physics IA for science credits. In the physics IA class, which meets twice a week, students were divided into two groups. The physics teacher taught one group, while I taught computer networking to the others, trading students following the mid-term. Since students learn about information and information processing in chapters four and five in physics IA, we added networking to this part of the course. In the first term I lectured on networking basics, paralleling the textbook, in ten one-hour classes. From the second term, students began applying their lessons toward actual use of computers.

Training

Content

Third term

1.

Computer networking spreads all over the world

2.

Word processing

3. 4.

Drawing a picture with a computer

5.

Introduction to HTML

6.

Your address

7. 8. 9.

Creating a home page

10. 11.

Viewing and evaluating home pages

12. 13.

Using e-mail

14. 15. 16.

Searching for information on your theme

17.

Summary



All students were fairly proficient at typing and drawing pictures, and in the final stages, they created a home page and sent e-mail to the teacher. Last year, we found that a third of the girls in the general course for girls tended to express enthusiastic interest in computers, while another third merely did the work that was expected of them. The last third seemingly had no interest in computers. Most of the boys at our school appeared interested in learning more about computers.


4. Conclusion

Students interested in computers tend to learn and absorb new skills quite quickly, while ordinary students need to be taught the most basic computers operations necessary in using a networking system. Unfortunately, this takes too much time and effort. This year we were able to teach networking system basic to some students in our regular classes. Students learned computer use basics over a period of time usually worth one credit. Most are interested in computers, and would like to use them on a regular basis.

I believe that students are able to learn how to use a computer, create a home page, and use e-mail in about half this time. Computer skills do not need to be taught as an independent subject, but can be a part of exercises or experiments done in the social studies or science. Once they learn how to use a computer network, students can also use it for other studies. If we can spare five hours per week and draw up an efficient schedule, I believe we can teach all students how to use a computer in the tenth grade. I plan to submit this proposal to various people and organizations.


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