Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase
Planning lessons using a Networking System
Advanced Use Project: Using Existing Databases
Yoshinobu Arao, Tama University Meguro High School
- We would like to mention some things you should know when using a network
in your lessons (database), and to help you plan lessons similar to the ones
we conducted in our project, "Advanced Use Project: Using Existing Databases."
2. A lesson using Nikkei Shimbun's (newspaper) database
(1) Lesson outline
||Ms. Noriko Watanabe (social studies)
||Eleventh graders (one class)
||One lesson (45 minutes)
||A group study as part of the "modern society" lesson.
In the lesson, Ms. Watanabe used articles found in Nikkei Shimbun's
database related to environmental problems. In a previous lesson, students
learned of measures taken by companies to protect the environment, to
prepare for the group study. Each group selected keywords beforehand,
so they could concentrate on searching the database during the lesson.
(2) Lesson Preparation
- 1. Calculate how many computers we can use to access the Internet (Internet
access: analog 28.8 bps, leased line via TRAIN) and decide on the lesson format
- We examined the number of computers we could use to access the Internet
at the same time without slowing line speed in our Internet room. Although
results differed slightly, according to the time of day, we found we could
use ten computers at the same time and still maintain decent access conditions.
After school, this number rose a little. Given the limited amount number of
computers, students formed groups to access the database.
- In this lesson, the teacher, with six groups of six or seven students each,
used a total of seven computers.
2. Prep work for using the network
- As on-line dictionaries or stationery, computers and networks should be
used in a lesson without hindering the original content of the subject. To
achieve this goal, we wanted to develop a system in which teachers could smoothly
incorporate Internet into their lessons. We then decided to teach some students
how to use networks, to make it possible for them to assist the teacher. We
felt that teaching only several students would be enough, since most students
in the class could enter Japanese characters.
We selected three students who used a browser on regular basis in the computer
club, and spent about three hours teaching them how to use the Nikkei Shimbun
database. Ms. Watanabe also spent about ten hours learning how to use a browser
and a database.
3. How the Nikkei Shimbun database works
We searched for data using various keywords, and examined more effective ways
1) Things to watch for when using the Nikkei Shimbun database
- We need to be very precise in searching the database. If we neglect to search
by a combination of all words, proper nouns are ignored. (for example, if
we put "Tito Mayer, president of Deutsche Bundes bank," the search also calls
up the president of the National Railways Corporation.
- If the keywords are long or vague, we do not get precise results. Teachers
should instruct students to select appropriate keywords in advance.
- Searching takes longer when searching over a wide span of time. Teachers
should be aware of the time needed for a search, so they can instruct students
to shorten the time period they want to search, consider different keywords,
or change their search style.
(3) Carrying out the lesson
- I gave students a brief lesson in using a browser and the Nikkei Shimbun
database, using Mac Ace at the beginning of the lesson. Ms. Watanabe conducted
the remaining portion.
Students were able to search efficiently, because we accessed the database's
home page before the lesson started. Each group printed out its results for
use in the following lesson.
1) Things to be look for, and how things went
- In many groups, the searches consumed considerable time before producing
search results. When this occurred, we asked for help from the trained students.
A particularly broad time period was the most common reason for a time-consuming
search (some keywords have over 1000 hits for a one-year period.) Some searches,
involving an entire sentence and character string, also were time-consuming.
Another group failed to get results even after waiting five minutes.
- When examining search results, students were unable to judge if the information
was worthwhile simply by examining the headlines or the lines matching the
keywords. Instead, this required viewing pages to check on the contents referred
to by the search engine, a time-consuming procedure.
- The students we trained were able to enter time period and keywords, but
were unable to resolve problems related to search style. Ms. Watanabe and
I were unable to predict results for particular keyword combinations, and
so experienced difficulty indicating to students the best combinations of
keywords, time period, and search style.
(4) Benefits of using Nikkei Shimbun's database in our lesson
- 2) Examples of keywords used in the lesson: Earth summit, nature conservation
movement, global environmental problems, energy saving, recycle, environmental
- We were able to focus on improving student information skills, rather than
spending energy merely on collecting information. As a result, the lesson
was carried out in an efficient manner, with high-quality teaching materials.
We then evaluated student work based on their reports.
- The lesson helped improve student skills at selecting pertinent information.
3. Actions required in using a network for a lesson (existing database)
- 1. Know the line capacity. If we plan a lesson that demands more line capacity
than is available, proper results cannot be obtained.
2. Plan a lesson according to line capacity.
3. Practice using the database in advance. When using a network for a limited
time, we should confirm the best way to use it to prevent problems from occurring.
4. Instruct assistants to provide lessons efficiently.
5. Hopefully, make sure all of the students know how use a browser. (In my
homeroom, during the long homeroom class, students access various colleges
through the college information available on our school's home page, becoming
familiar with browsers in this way.)
- I believe that lessons incorporating network use will open up new fields
in education and bring out some hidden student abilities, accelerating their
educational growth. But few good examples currently exists for using a network
effectively in a lesson. It will take time and effort before "media education"
becomes as established as more traditional subjects. Without the courage and
enthusiasm of Ms. Watanabe who was willing to try a new kind of lesson, we
could never have succeeded.
- The Nikkei Shimbun database is excellent, providing information we
want immediately. I hope that more databases like this will appear in other
fields in the near future. In mathematics, the subject I teach, there is a
long way to go before networks can be used effectively. Nonetheless, I support
lessons in any subject to promote the use of media education.
Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II)