Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase
Joint Development and Use of Educational Software on the Internet
Kazuo Tenra, Tokyo Metropolitan Komaba High School
- Installing the equipment needed to use the Internet in schools has the potential
to significantly change educational content and methods. Our project, "Joint
Development and Use of Educational Software on the Internet," was planned
under the assumption that in the near future, every school would be provided
with access to the Internet.
When computers were first introduced at our schools, we used the software
provided (BASIC and other packages) to create our own programs, as there was
little in the way of commercial software, and the software available was in
any case too expensive. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience of writing our
own programs. Then, the release of Windows created the need for more powerful
and more complex software. Our software budget increased, as did the range
of commercial software available.
Every day, more schools begin using the Internet. We see the need for a system
for jointly developing educational software. Commercial software is generally
written by large teams. In writing our own software, we should follow suit
and rely on the combined efforts of many people. Linked across the Internet,
teachers from different schools can collaborate in developing such software.
The Internet is nearly ideal for software distribution. Formerly, we distributed
our software by copying it to floppy disks and mailing them. The Internet
lets us access software merely by going to the desired home page.
In this project, we examined several ways to proceed in co-developing and
distributing our own software across the Internet.
2. The project
In this project, we examined how teachers can cooperate
to develop, operate, control, and use educational software that can be used
on the Internet.
Table1. Members of the study group
Kazuo Tenra, Tokyo Metropolitan Komaba High School
Junji Sumi, Tokyo Metropolitan Kokusai High School
Nobuhiro Kinase, Shibuya ward Sasazuka Junior High School
Takahiro Haga, Junior High School attached to Faculty of Education
at Chiba University
Saburo Oono, Nihon Sun Micro Systems K.K.
Hidetoshi Ogata, Microsoft Co., Ltd.
- Establishing a study group
We established a project study group, in which we discussed project contents
and operating procedures.
|Figure 1.A Screeen from the software controlling system to register
- Gathering the participants
- We started inviting people to participate in our project in July, 1997.
Forty-five people chose to participate, participating as individuals rather
than as representatives of a particular school. Participating teachers came
from elementary, junior, and senior high schools, twenty-three schools in
all. Also participating were university professors and people with no direct
ties to the educational community.
- Supporting the participants
- We introduced home pages targeted at the participants and conducted study
meetings on Java and ActiveX. We invited lecturers from computer-related companies.
During the study meetings, we developed software for use on a home page and
did research on future computer trends.
Project URL: http://www.cec.or.jp/kenkai/jsoft/jsoft.html
- Establishing a control system for operating and controlling software
- We established a control system on the server to register and search JAVA
applets, HTML, including scripts, and server software. Figure 1 shows an HTML
screen used to register software written by individuals. Registering software
in this screen automatically sends information for the software to examiners,
using e-mail. The examiners determine the appropriateness of the software,
after which it is either registered or rejected.
3. The potential of software operating on a web site
- Java is attracting attention as a language for web software development.
Below are listed some benefits of using this kind of software for education:
- Not just letters, voice, and dynamic/static images, but programs can now
be sent over the Internet.
- The framework supports more than one operating system, advancing the standardization
and permitting us to continue using computers currently installed at each
- Using educational software running on a web site, such as a Java Applet,
will dramatically change information education. If a computer has a web browser,
each student is able to use software without having to install it on his or
her own computer. If various educational software, information, and teaching
materials are collectively controlled on a server or connected to the Internet,
each student may choose his or her own software from a browser. Programs written
in Java have good security features and are stable and safe when running on
networks. Using Java should facilitate lessons held in a school computer room.
4. Developing software for use on a web site
- The joint development and use of educational software on the Internet requires
some advanced techniques and methods, including modular software and software
that can function with VRML or CGI. I would like to discuss what I consider
a significant topic, developing modular software.
When distributing self-made educational software, you don't have to think
about developing it in separate parts, as long as it's used for a single purpose.
But when people collaborate in developing and using software, as in our project,
many find that modular software is easier to use. For example, software written
expressly for the purpose of teaching functional relations can be used only
in teaching mathematics. But create a separate module during the development
process that works with graphs, and you have a program that can also be used
to graph data for natural phenomena, for science lessons, or social phenomena
for social studies classes.
- In this project, we've discussed ways in which teachers jointly develop,
manage, and use software written for use on the Web. The rapidly changing
nature of the technology involved in this project has produced many difficulties.
Some of the unresolved problems include changes in the Java language, obtaining
tools and instruction manuals for software development, delays in developing
a system for controlling software, and greater demand for the educational
server client system than anticipated. We believe that the need for educational
software for use on the Web will grow by leaps and bounds. We continue to
strive to resolve the difficulties, with the ultimate goal of improving Internet
use in our schools.
Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II)