Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase
Senior high school meeting
Internet use in Education for the Handicapped
Pros and cons of Supporting Home Study
Mamoru Ito and Katsuhiro Kanamori, KOMEI School for the physically
Tatsunori Ono and Toshiyoshi Fukamachi, Kinryu School for the Physically Handicapped
- Part of a CEC-initiative project within the 100 School Networking Project
(Phase II) involved improving Internet access for handicapped children and
students. Since the start of the Networking Project, we have examined this
issue, in part through operating the edhand mailing list. Here, we'd like
to report on our experience with edhand and outline the pros and cons of our
home study support system for physically handicapped students.
2. The edhand mailing list
- The mailing list edhand was set up on December 14, 1995, to promote
a joint usage program for special education within the 100-School Networking
Project. At its inception, the mailing list had fifteen members, including
teachers from special schools participating in the 100-School Networking Project
and project advisors. edhand objectives and activities were as follows:
- edhand is meant to provide an opportunity for teachers from eight
special schools participating in the 100-School Networking Project to discuss
problems and help each other with Internet usage. The teachers exchange information
and ideas to help students realize their goals.
- 1. An open symposium, "Education for handicapped students, and network
Theme 1: Ideal accessibility (seeking a network user-friendly for handicapped
Theme 2: Communication and privacy (distributing information while protecting
Theme 3: Networking systems within the school and within the curriculum (the
process of setting up a school networking system)
Theme 4: Distribution of information by students (encouraging student independence)
Theme 5: Free talking (what we expect from networks, etc.)
2. Joint projects: Maintain projects that encourage student participation.
Encourage students to suggest their own project ideas.
After numerous ups and downs, the mailing list membership as of February,
1998, had grown to about a hundred, including people unrelated to the 100-School
Networking Project. The membership came to include teachers of elementary,
junior high, and senior high schools, school board supervisors, researchers
in the fields of handicapped education and rehabilitation science, system
engineers, technical volunteers, and workers from various local community
Members conducted an active exchange of ideas and views on various matters
concerning the Internet and handicapped students, such as the best way to
provide Internet access for handicapped students, technical information on
Internet use, techniques, special education, activity reports, appropriate
training for teachers, reports and information on training and seminars, and
reports on handicapped education abroad. The mailing list served as a mutual
support system for Internet use among people involved in special education.
3. Supporting home study for physically handicapped students
(1) Planning a project for home study with Challenge Kids at Kinryu School
for the Physically Handicapped
<Student M's case>
- An eleventh-grade student, whom we will refer to as M., underwent a tracheotomy
in May. Physically unable to return to school even after being released from
the hospital, M. obtained an Internet ID from the Saga Prefectural Education
Center. He now has access to the Internet, using a Macintosh PowerBook and
a special input device. Over the past year, teachers visited him twice weekly,
providing instruction in five basic subjects on Tuesdays, and in computer
communications on Fridays. A review of his computer activities over FY 1997
To become familiar with the computer, he first started with word processing.
But this procedure taxed his interest, due to the time required for data input
(with scanning) and the physical exertion of the aspirations he required once
every twenty minutes. (unit: letter entry)
He showed little interest in home pages recommended in computer magazines,
but expressed interest in art work and self-introductions done by students
from other special schools, as published in their home pages. (unit: viewing
Teachers sent him e-mail, which they would open and read to him during visits.
He appeared to enjoy this at first, but expressed sufficient interest to respond
only to e-mail sent by classmates. However, his initial interest in corresponding
with friends, if not teachers, also waned, due to the help required from teachers
in order to use the e-mail system. (unit: using e-mail)
<Participating in Challenge Kids>
- In the case of M., we continued to try out various methods of computer communications.
But M. remained essentially unable to initiate communications by computer.
At this point, we gave him free access for about a week to the Challenge Kids
(operated by Special School for the Mentally Handicapped, Affiliated Faculty
of Education, Shiga University). We also played a videotape of the TV program
"Media and education," televised on October 3, 1997, and introduced
the activities of the Challenge Kids. We also gave him the "Challenge
Kids Digest '96" to read. He appeared to understand the idea of the Challenge
Kids, and began to access it frequently on his own. According to his mother,
on one occasion when he experienced trouble accessing Challenge Kids, he spent
two hours attempting to resolve the problem on his own. Asked by a teacher
if he would like to introduce himself to Challenge Kids members, he had written
an introduction about himself to send by e-mail by the teacher's next visit.
A nice thing about Challenge Kids is how quickly one gets responses. Student
M. was delighted to get so many responses to his first attempt at e-mail.
(2) Using CU-SeeMe at KOMEI School for the physically handicapped
- After upgrading its access line from a 28.8 k analog line to a 64k digital
line, KOMEI School for the physically handicapped undertook an experiment
to support student home study using the CU-SeeMe video conferencing system.
One teacher participating in the experiment reported enthusiastic student
School side: Apple Macintosh LC630/Enhanced CU-SeeMeColor Qcam/64 k digital
Student's home: PowerBook 5300 cs/Enhanced CU-SeeMeColor Qcam/Pardio
312S 32K Pardio data card DC-1S
4. Conclusion: Difficulties and current status in regard to home study support
for physically handicapped students
- The most important concern in home study support is inspiring student interest
and motivation. The example from Kinryu School for the Physically Handicapped
was helpful in providing ideas about the kind of environment teachers should
establish for the students.
- There are several home study support methods that involve teleconferencing,
including use of special TV phones, connecting computers over an ISDN line,
and using a teleconferencing system that operates over the Internet. In taking
the Internet route, Komei School found that line speed needs to be at least
32k for effective use. Despite growing use, ISDN lines remain rare among households.
- Trial attempts to conduct education for the physically handicapped students
through home visits have been undertaken throughout Japan, with the most practical
solution so far involving a notebook-type of personal computer, PHS, and the
Internet. The Komei School experiment made use of a teacher's personal PHSvery
few schools can afford to purchase PHSs with school money. Widespread implementation
of such a project will require additional funds for this equipment.
But even more important that equipment in home study support is providing
students adequate communication with others. If we can keep this in mind,
we can achieve significant results with minimal equipment. The Komei School
experiment suggests just that.
Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II)