Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase
Senior high school meeting
Familiarizing Students with the Internet
Exchange among Student Councils via the Internet
Masahiro Matsuda, Nobeoka Commercial High School
- The best way to familiarizing students with the Internet, I thought, would
be to have students teach each other. This was the impulse behind my project,
"Exchange among Student Councils via the Internet," in which students
are permitted to participate freely as part of our student council activities.
I hoped that students would be able to exchange information and resolve problems
concerning student council activities by discussing such issues across the
Internet. By exchanging views with other student councils, students from our
school would better represent their ideas in student council activities. I
also hoped that such participation would raise student interest in student
In the past, meeting a student council from another school generally required
detailed research into the particular school's activities, choosing a school
to visit, and communication by mail and phone to set up detailed visit plans.
Given the amount of time required by the meetings, they occurred infrequently,
with students visiting only three or four schools per year, and the visits
themselves involving merely looking around at each school and brief exchanges
of opinions. To get the most out of the actual meetings, we thought it might
be better to discuss issues beforehand. We also decided to allow students
to draw up meeting plans themselves. As part of this plan, I and members of
the student council decided to learn to use the Internet, with the intention
of spreading its use throughout the whole school. Using the computers available
to us, our student council began corresponding with other schools over the
2. Outline of Exchange among Student Councils via the Internet
- Along with three former members, our student council members planned and
ran the project. My role was limited to teaching the most basic computer and
Internet skills, after which students taught themselves by reading books and
instruction manuals and by proceeding under the credo that practice makes
In this project, students learned the basics of computers, the Internet, and
information processing, then created their own home pages and sent e-mail
to schools, inviting them to participate in our project. Students corresponded
with and befriended students from other schools. Once our project becomes
more firmly established, I hope our students will initiate correspondences
with and visit students from our schools. If this project is successful, I
also plan to get in touch with elementary schools, junior high schools, and
schools overseas. Given the opportunity to advise student councils of elementary
schools, students will develop leadership skills, which should serve them
in the future when they represent all of us within the international community.
3. Our student council
- Our student council has five tenth graders (two from the information processing
course), five eleventh graders (three from the information processing course),
and three twelfth graders (ex-members, one from the information processing
course). Most of the tenth and eleventh graders had never used a computer,
and even students from the information processing course were unfamiliar with
Windows 95 or the Internet, since their curriculum focuses primarily on COBOL.
Recently, our student council has been very active in planning new school
events, including "The Shopping Street PR Project," as part of the
Ohka Festival (school festival), taking advantage of our position as a commercial
high school rooted in the community. Thanks to help from local store owners,
this event was a great success. (Please see our home page for details.)
In the past, students tended to show little interest in serving on our student
council, with candidates generally nominated against their will. In contrast,
most recent candidates have actively sought election, giving enthusiastic
campaign speeches. Motivated, skilled at running the council, and having real
leadership ability, the students are still unfamiliar with the process of
forming plans and communicating with other schools. It is my hope that the
Internet will help teach them these skills.
- I taught students computer basics before we began communicating with other
student councils. By searching home pages and creating a guide to events and
award certificates in a word processor, students quickly picked up the material
on their own initiative. Teachers also participated in these activities, with
the result that student interest increased as time went by. Since the information
processing room was locked after school, we bought a computer for Internet
use in the student council room, which students had access to even after school.
By the beginning of September, as students logged more computer time and steadily
developed their skills and knowledge, we decided to create a home page to
introduce our activities and to propose the "Exchange among Student Councils
via the Internet" project to other schools. Software for creation of
a home page is not helpful for students, as they will not be creating it themselves.
I therefore decided to teach them HTML. After initial lessons in HTML, our
students quickly outstripped us, creating one home page version after another,
referring to reference manuals, and steadily growing more skilled. When their
HTML lessons were completed, as part of their training, they installed software
and created a home page called "Hotall 4.0." The ease of installing
and using the software boosted student confidence. On their own, they installed
and deleted software and learned file management. Our instruction also included
lessons on copyright law, emphasizing rights governing creative work. The
project also included training courses for teachers, to show them how to log
into UNIX and to issue e-mail IDs and passwords for students.
In October, our prefecture's high school festival was held in Nobeoka. Members
of our student council planned and operated the debate on school regulations
in the student council communication section. Their first plan was to use
the Internet to obtain regulations for each school. But we quickly discovered
that much of this information was unavailable from these sites. I taught them
how to use e-mail to request information directly from the schools. In late
October, our students completed the council home page, further boosting the
confidence of our students, and attended a class on information security and
In November, we began searching home pages to draw up a list of mail addresses
for system operators and schools, to prepare for exchanging e-mail with other
student councils. We asked students from the information processing course
to help us create the list and to draw up a questionnaire to send to other
We completed the mailing list in December. Student council members received
individual mail addresses. We updated our home page for the first time and
began drawing up an invitation to send to schools for participation in our
In January, we completed the letter of invitation and sent it via e-mail to
120 schools. So far, ten other schools are participants.
- The student council is responsible for planning and running eleven annual
events. Due the time required by these events, we had little time to teach
students how to use a computer. But students proved to be more enthusiastic
about learning on their own than expected and quickly picked up much of the
material on their own. Provided with required materials, the students planned
and ran the events by themselves. Some of the pros and cons we experienced:
1) Students should have been provided with individual e-mail accounts from
the beginning of their training.
2) The purchase and installation of the computer for the student council room
should have been made earlier.
3) Finding the mailing addresses of schools took far more time than expected.
4) The project increased student knowledge of and interest in computers and
5) Project effects included increased enthusiasm for council work, and increased
computer use at our school.
6) We established a foundation for exchange with other schools, which should
make future work much easier.
7) Most importantly, the project provided students the opportunity to develop
confidence in using computers and the Internet.
Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II)