Just as Koreans have struggled for the last 40 years with the
transition from an agrarian to industrial economy, today we confront the
transition from an industrial to a technological economy. Globalization
is proceeding rapidly as we approach the 21st century and technology implementation
is necessary for the growth and stability of the nation in the future.
As we Koreans become active competitors in the global market, literacy
for information and technology are becoming the new basics which our students
must master in the schools. Thus, it has become essential to prepare them
for a lifetime of computer use being just as important as teaching students
to read and write.
The Minister of Information and Communication, Bae Soon-hoon, said that the budget for information technology investment will be expanded next year to create jobs, assist corporate restructuring efforts, promote information technology in the financial industry and increase computer literacy. He also reported that financial institutions' information systems will be integrated to help revamp the domestic financial sector. As a first step, banks' information network will be connected with that of securities firms within this year. In addition, they are planning to have cabinet ministries launch programs to educate the public on information technology and its application.
The Ministry of Education will launch programs for students, while
the Ministry of Government and local Administration will train government
officials. When this is achieved, it will enhance the productivity of government
administration and improve the quality of administrative services. The
ultimate plan is to have
all central administrative agencies be connected through a network by the end of this year and extend to the local government by next year to achieve a paper-less administration system by the year of 1999. The plan also calls for the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to develop programs for housewives and senior citizens. These programs are designed to make Korea the No. 1 country in terms of computer literacy to meet one of the 100 national tasks the new government of President Kim Dae-Jung has set for itself.
In the past decade, educators in Korea have had a full understanding of the importance of powerful technological media and have strived to implement information technology in school system. However, only 89 Elementary schools out of 5,685 schools (3,784,027 students); 108 Junior High schools out of 2,718 schools (2,180,296 students); 149 High Schools out of 1,935 schools (2,336,726 students) have access to Internet. Current figure show only 79 Elementary schools, 74 Junior High schools, and 111 High schools are actively engaged in utilizing internet in their schools for education. These figures were tallied as of September 1997.
2. Young Hoon's Technology Program
As Young Hoon seeks to give a high quality, progressive education to our students, our school is the first in line to implement this valuable technology education along with our English Immersion Program. Young Hoon was also the first elementary school in Korea to introduce open education. Since the open education program's philosophy is built upon the child-centered approach and technology education supports students' individualized activities through an authentic task and hands-on experiences, technology activities fit easily and naturally into our existing school program.
We have used computers and other information technologies as tools to increase student learning in Young Hoon Elementary School for over 25 years. In the early 80's we started to use a language laboratory which was equipped with audio-visual technology to implement English instruction. Prior to building the Language Lab system, we have attempted to build a school broadcasting system. Every classroom was equipped with a television which was connected with a central broadcasting room so that students in the classroom could view what was projected centrally. It was necessary to operate the school's central broadcasting system since well qualified English speaking instructors were not available at that time.
With the development and increased availability of lower-cost personal computers, Young Hoon was able to build a Technology lab equipped with 40 computers. In the late 1980s, computers were used as tools for such activities as drawing pictures and compiling word processing. As we approached the 21st century, new and powerful technologies began to make their way into classrooms. New personal computers support "multimedia" educational software that employs both sound and video to teach facts and concepts through assimilation.
Since the beginning of 1996, we were fortunate to be connected to Chulli-an's bulletin board service that provides students, family and community members, and staff with information on school activities, announcements, weather forecasts, academic materials, tutorials, and e-mail services. This interactive communication technology is commonly used with two-way text and audio based. Computer networks enable students and teachers to move the learning process beyond the classroom and into the world outside school.
Technology offers new and exciting ways for Young Hoon families to increase their involvement in their children's education. Beside having a network connection through the internet, Young Hoon also has installed a tele-communication system to serve each and every student and their family at home. Through this system, all students' home computers and modems are connected with our schools' network, thereby increasing the amount of time students can spend on educational activities outside of school as well as increasing family involvement. Students watch less television, improve problem-solving and critical thinking skills, improve their writing and math skills, and improve their computer skills. Parents are communicating more with their children and their children's teachers. They are more interested in their children's activities at school. Thus, parent involvement in school activities is expanded with the assistance of internet access. Support of the technology program is evident through the large number of active communicators on-line, parents, students and school staff members are able to work cooperatively in an open-communication style that encourages a positive academic program that benefits all participants.
Advances in telecommunications technologies have spurred access to the Internet, allowing students and teachers to communicate with people from around the world via electronic mail. New ways of obtaining and presenting information have given students powerful new ways of analyzing and understanding the world around them. Learning Network links classes from geographically diverse locations into "learning circle" to share informations and educational goals. By connecting telecommunications applications into their classrooms, teachers create environments where students can communicate with other students, participate in collaborative projects, and gather information in a joint endeavor to understand the subjects or issues.
Initially in 1995, Young Hoon established its own school server with 25 computers linked on a LAN network. This was expanded to 40 computers as well as one in each of 40 classrooms connected to 256 Kbps. To support Young Hoon's growing future technology program we are expanding the cable's capacity will be expanded to accommodate four or five computers in each classroom. Hardware modifications, including the installation of 2000 Kpbs. capable cables will ensure that Young Hoon will have the capability to grow well into the future.
Technology offers powerful support for learning skills through inquiry and problem solving. Students who have the opportunity to acquire computer technology skills early in life will be better able to maximize on their learning endeavors. The progression of this learning process can be delegated into four basic stages (Table 1):
Table 1 CLASSIFICATION OF EDUCATION TECHNOLOGIES
|Tutorial||Systems designed to teach by providing information, demonstrations, or simulations. Tutorial systems may provide for expository learning and practice.||Computer assisted instruction (CAI)
|Exploratory||Systems designed to facilitate student learning by
providing information, demonstrations, or simulations when requested to do so by the student.
Under student control, the system provides the context for discovery of facts, concepts, or procedures
Some videodisc/multimedia systems
|Application||General-purpose tools for accomplishing tasks such as composition, data storage, or data analysis.||Word processing
Desktop publishing systems
Video recording and editing equipment
|Communication||Systems that allow groups of teachers and students to send information and data to each other through networks or other technologies.||Local area networks
Wide area networks
Interactive distance learning
Technology has evolved to become a powerful medium. If technology functioned merely as a set of the mechanical tools, the problem would not be so challenging. Schools could simply add a few more required courses and more specialists to teach them. But technology has become more than a set of tools to be picked up and used when needed. Technology has become a required medium that mediates experience in most aspects of peoples' lives.
However, Technology education has been conceptualize by some educators simply as another special course to master as an operating tool. The failure of responding adequately to the full impact and significance of technology and their failure to reflect what we know about how people learn are a consequence of schools operating within an outmoded structure. An important aspect of contemporary culture is virtually absent from the core curriculum of today's most schools. This absence deprives the students from true learning in our schools from performing important functions such as culturally literate and technically competent.
In the process of implementing the information technology program in our school, we have faced two major obstacles: (1) enormous financial obligations; (2) language barrier. The Korean government has a plan to assist the schools with the networking and necessary tools, such as computers, to implement a successful technology program. However, the language barrier restricts the full implementation of this program as we advance into the depth of information education. Because the web is dominated for the most part by English speaking people, most of all the information on the website is compiled in the English language. As English is becoming the universal language, inability to communicate with others through the English medium will be at the disadvantage in functioning normally in this modern society. Therefore, it was imperative for Young Hoon Elementary School to expand our curriculum by teaching English in order to meet the needs of our global community. To meet this demand, in 1995, we implemented the English Immersion Program in our school. We have an intensive language program taught by eight native English speakers.
Through the use of advanced computing and telecommunications technology,
learning can also be qualitatively different. The process of learning in
the classroom can become significantly richer as students have access to
new and different types of information. If the technology properly used,
can enhance the achievement of all students, increase families' involvement
in their children's schooling, improve teachers' skills and knowledge,
and improve school administration and management. In conclusion, we are
optimistic that the technology programs that are being introduced into
Korean society today will bring educational reform.