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

Diversified Use of the Internet at a General High School
A Course on Cultural Exchange Using E-mail, and Creating a Database for Science Experiments and Observations

Yasumasa Tanimoto, Okayama Hosen High School

1. Introduction

Outline of Okayama Hosen High School

Okayama Hosen High School is a full-time general high school. It is one of five high schools in Okayama city, which have a unique entrance examination system. Most of its students hope to attend college.

Each grade has ten classrooms, and students are taught for a total of thirty hours per week.

Our perspective on the Internet

Use it to cultivate skills in independent learning.
Let students discover on their own things that will spark their interest and increase motivation.
Motivate students by offering them opportunities for self-expression and mutual evaluation with people outside the school.
In using the Internet, emphasize its potential for communication.

We would like to report on two of our projects, "A Course on Cultural Exchange Using E-mail," and "Project to Create a Database for Science Experiments and Observations." The first is a good example of Internet use during class time. The second is a good example of the exchange of teaching materials.


2. A Course on Cultural Exchange Using E-mail

Course outline

An optional course for eleventh graders on Saturdays. Lessons were seventy minutes long, with sixty-three students participating in two courses.

Partner school: Silver Creek High School, San Jose, California, USA

Computers used:
Linked to the Internet with e-mail capability 5
Stand-alone with floppy disk devices 23

Related URL http://www.hosen-hs.okayama.okayama.jp/emailexchange/

Goals of the course

1. Students learn about differences between and commonalties with other cultures, researching each culture's history through the exchange of e-mail with students overseas, coming to grasp the good points of each culture and to develop a deeper mutual understanding.

2. Writing e-mail in English motivates students to study English and improves English self-expression skills.

3. Students learn netiquette and how to exchange e-mail. They also gain some experience in making their way in a computerized society.

Lesson plan (70 min. x 7 hours)

1. Schedule, using computer software, and typing practice (one hour)

2. Registering IDs, sending and receiving e-mail, e-mail etiquette, and practice in sending e-mail to a teacher (one hour)

3. Forming a group, selecting a theme, and entering data (one hour)

4. Group study, entering data, and exchanging e-mail (four hours)
Students are also allowed to send e-mail after school, if they need to.

Pros and cons

Many students enjoyed the experience of exchanging e-mail and communicating in English. Here are two student comments: "I made friends with students overseas and talked about lots of things with them." "I wrote letters on my own in English by looking up words in a dictionary." Students were more motivated and asked teachers more questions about English expressions, compared to regular lessons. Some students were surprised to learn about differences in ways of thinking between students in the U.S. and Japan, coming away with a deeper understanding of cultural differences.

This experiment could have been more effective had we spent some time beforehand teaching computer basics. Since the program was an elective, and most of the enrolled students quite motivated, the students often remained after school to write and read e-mail. Ideally, each student would have access to a computer connected to the Internet, giving each student e-mail access during lessons.


3. Project to Create a Database for Science Experiments and Observations

Outline

This project started in FY 1996 as a joint usage program of the 100-School Networking Project, becoming a school-initiative program in FY 1997. In this project, we made available data for experiments and observations of potential use in science education, giving schools the opportunity to exchange data for use in safe, efficient experiments and observations.

To create the database, we listed examples of experiments available on the Internet, classifying them into six categories: physics, chemistry, biology, and geography for high school; elementary school data; and junior high school data.

Related URL http://www.hosen-hs.okayama.okayama.jp/rika/

Pros and cons

We began running the database in November 1996, adding a search function in FY 1997. Figure 1 shows database use from January to February 15, 1997. Figure 2 shows the ratio of registration for each category among the 120 experiments, as of February 15.


Teachers are able to modify experiments and pose questions as appropriate for their particular classes. Ideally, teachers would examine examples from other school for new ideas to improve their lessons, even if the examples cannot be applied directly. With the continued cooperation of others, I would like to continue to improve the database.


4. Conclusion

At our school, we have explored many ways to use the Internet, including collecting teaching materials through communicating with other people. We learned how fast communications can be through the Internet, and that the Internet allows practically anyone to distribute information. If we can take advantage of these features and use them appropriately, we will be able to further motivate students and improve their education.


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