ABSTRACT OF PRESENTATION
Group: ThinkQuest Program of Advanced Network & Services, Armonk, New York, USA
Speaker: Dr. Grant Beglarian, International Coordinator for ThinkQuest
* The program is designed for students 12 to 19 years old attending secondary schools.
* Since its inception in 1996, over 20,000 students and teachers in over 60 countries have participated in the program.
* Approximately 2,000 schools throughout the world are involved in the program.
* Nearly 200,000 packets of ThinkQuest information, including a CD-ROM containing free software, are provided annually at no cost to students and teachers in over 100 countries.
* National Partners in 20 countries manage and lead the program's local operations.
* Hundreds of training workshops for teachers and students have been organized by the National Partners and the home office.
* A growing library of educational web sites created by ThinkQuest participants has become a major resource on the Internet. It receives roughly 6,000,000 hits a week.
* Over $1,000,000 a year are awarded as scholarships to students for their university education and to their teacher/coaches and schools to enhance their educational resources.
Abstract of Remarks:
Advanced Network & Services is a not-for-profit organization. Its basic mission is to develop and use technology to advance education and communication throughout the world. It created, and now funds and manages the ThinkQuest program in order to bring the benefits of advanced technology to improve the educational resources available to students and teachers everywhere. An important aspect of the program is its encouragement of collaborative learning involving students from different nations, social and economic backgrounds, and availability of access to electronic technology and the Internet.
The core activity of the ThinkQuest program is an international competition each year for the creation of educationally valuable and useful web sites by teams of 2 or 3 students, 12 to 19 years of age. The conduct of the competition is governed by a set of published rules to assure fair and uniform standards. The competition begins in September when teams are formed by students and they apply on our web site. The initiative rests with the students. The judging criteria contained in the rules make it clear that we value diversity in the team members. Our web site provides the means for finding teammates that have complementary skills and common interests. The team members identify their own coaches - typically, but not always their teacher.
The team chooses the subject of their proposed web site. The selected subject must fit into one of the five ThinkQuest categories: Arts and Literature, Interdisciplinary fields, Science and Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Sports and Health. The submission deadline for the completed application, which includes parental approval, is 28 February.
An international group of evaluators, selected by the Internet Society, screens and approves the applications for compliance with the rules and the educational value of the proposed subject. The notice of approval is sent by e-mail to all qualified teams and an account is opened for each on our dedicated server for their use and eventual uploading of their web site.
The team's work now begins in earnest. Team members assume the role of authors, designers, technicians and managers in order to conduct the research for their entry, organize the materials in a coherent manner, and use the extraordinary capabilities of Internet imaginatively, reliably, and wisely. For young people in their teens this may be their first encounter with the necessity to divide tasks among themselves, to work collaboratively, to meet professional standards of quality, and a strict time-table. It should be noted that most of this activity is carried out on the Internet and use of e-mail. There is remarkable educational value in this complex experience.
The deadline for uploading the completed entries on our server is August 31. After an initial screening by educators and technicians provided by the Internet Society, qualified entries are made accessible on our web site. The formal judging of the sites that follows is by experts in the various subject matters and Internet technology. They evaluate each site according to weighed criteria on quality and accuracy of the content, technical design and reliability, diversity in the team, interactivity and resulting increase in the value of the site, usefulness, and creative use of the Internet. From hundreds of entries and by gradual narrowing down, the judges select 5 or 6 finalist teams in each category. They are required to attend the concluding judging process in November. This was held in Washington, DC, in 1997. This year it will be held in Los Angeles. The public is welcome to attend a specially organized open house exhibit of sites.
The final judging involves personal interview of team members to ascertain that the entry is their work and for judges' deliberations of the relative merits of the entries. The results are announced at a gala event. In all, over $1,000,000 is awarded to the finalist students for their university-level education and cash awards to coaches and the schools identified by the coaches for strengthening their educational resources. The expenses for transportation, lodging and all related expenses are borne by Advanced Network & Services.
An important aspect of ThinkQuest is that all submitted entries, not just the award winners, are placed in our library of entries for use by anyone with access to the Internet. We have nearly 1000 entries on a broad variety of subjects. The library receives over 6 million hits a week and has become a major education resource on the Internet.
By holding numerous training workshops for teachers and students on the substance and style of learning made possible by the Internet, Advanced Network and its ThinkQuest National Partners are contributing enormously to the creative use of this technology. Equally important is the free distribution of 200,000 information packets throughout the world, each with a CD-ROM containing valuable software, technical tutorials, and examples of winning entries.
A major concern we share with our National Partners is that we do not leave behind students and schools that are less developed technologically. We will continue to encourage collaboration involving students from technologically advanced schools and societies with students who lack these resources. We intend to continue our focused efforts in bringing the benefits of Internet to all who value and advance knowledge, enlightenment, skills and creativity in young people throughout the world.
Dr. Grant Beglarian, International Coordinator
ThinkQuest; Advanced Network & Services
200 Business Park Drive, Suite 307
Armonk, NY, 10504 USA
Tel.: +914 765-1148 Fax: +914 765-1149
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, URL http://www.thinkquest.org/
Dr. GRANT BEGLARIAN is the International Coordinator for the ThinkQuest program of Advanced Network & Services. He oversees the program's operations in over 100 countries and works closely with National Partners for ThinkQuest in 20 countries. Before this assignment, he was the founding President of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts which supports young US artists in various fields. He served as Professor of Music and Dean of Performing Arts at the University of Southern California, 1969-1982, and as Director of the Ford Foundation project in music and education, 1961-69. He has broad experience in international affairs having served as educational and cultural consultant in several countries and the United States.
He earned his doctorate in music at the University of Michigan where he did most of his graduate and undergraduate work. He now lives in Metropolitan New York area.