ERIC Identifier: ED354903
Publication Date: 1992-12-00
Author: Eisenberg, Michael B.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Information Resources Syracuse NY.
Networking: K-12. ERIC Digest.
At-risk high school students in the states of Washington, Texas,
Massachusetts, and California "meet" online to discuss teenage pregnancy, drug
prevention, Middle East foreign policy, and other topics of current interest.
Students of all ages collaboratively produce a newspaper, Global Village
News, using input from dozens of worldwide student "news bureaus" linked through
more than 15,000 free computer bulletin boards in over 50 countries. The paper
is distributed to thousands of users throughout the world. (Rose, 1992)
Students from the United States and other countries go on a simulated space
shuttle journey, assuming various roles including secondary mission control,
selecting alternative landing sites and docking other shuttles. (Clement, 1992)
What makes these common educational experiences exciting and unique? They all
involve students and teachers from around the world interacting through computer
THE BENEFITS OF NETWORKING
Long-distance, or wide-area,
computer networking can change teaching and learning dramatically. Teachers and
students with access to a computer, a modem, and phone lines are freed from the
physical limits of a school building and the time limits of an 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
school day. They can communicate with peers and gain access to electronic
resources as they wish, making individualized instruction and personal inquiry
the norm, not the exception. Interaction through networks helps break down
communication barriers and inhibitions that often stifle the open exchange of
ideas in traditional classrooms. There is also a strong motivational aspect to
network use: kids bring an energy and enthusiasm to it that's often missing in
traditional classrooms, and teachers are thrilled to be able to share ideas,
problems, and solutions with colleagues across the country as easily as if they
were next door.
The excitement and enthusiasm for networking is not wistful speculation based
on theoretical possibilities--it's happening right now. Thousands of students
and teachers are tapping into networks, sharing experiences, and engaging in a
wide range of learning activities. As the pace of networking accelerates, so too
will the creative uses and the overall impact of the movement.
HOW ARE NETWORKS USED?
Whether connected to a state,
regional, or private network, or to the Internet (the worldwide "network of
networks"), network users can undertake three primary activities: electronic
mail, computer conferencing, and accessing information from remote sources. Each
of these offers opportunities to expand the learning environment, foster better
communication, and excite learners and educators.
Electronic Mail (or E-Mail). Using e-mail, learners can exchange information
with teachers or other learners, and teachers can communicate with students or
colleagues, locally and worldwide. E-mail messages offer immediate access to
others on the same network.
administrators, librarians, and other educators can consult with colleagues in
the district and across the country on curriculum, policies, technology, and
can "talk" to others across time zones and continents and get responses much
more quickly than by mail.
or files, can be transferred through e-mail, facilitating the exchange of
papers, reports, and resource materials for teachers, administrators, and
Group Communication. Network communication also makes it easy for groups of
people to work cooperatively and share information without having to be in close
physical proximity. It is possible to create "global classrooms" where students
work with others as if they were in the same location. Educators and students
can join organized discussion groups on specific topics. The networks are filled
with hundreds of such groups (sometimes called "listservs"), many having
international membership. LM[underscore]NET, for example, is an Internet
discussion group for the library media field; EDTECH-L is dedicated to
Remote Information Access. Through computer networking, information from
around the world becomes available in the local school and even in the
individual classroom or library media center. A few examples of the wealth of
information available to students include:
data, discussions, libraries, and additional services related to drug and
alcohol abuse from California's Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Net.
and commentaries of Supreme Court decisions, information on space flights and
space science, and data from the U.S. Commerce Department through the Cleveland
full text of the Federalist Papers, the U.S. Constitution, the Koran, and a host
of other books through Project Gutenberg, a non-profit organization seeking to
prepare electronic editions of more than 10,000 books by the year 2001.
To get into wide area networking, you need
to know: (1) how to operate your own computer, modem, and telecommunications
software; (2) how to connect to and communicate with a computer already linked
to the network; and (3) how to use the network to communicate with others. User
manuals, classes, and general reference books (for example, Roberts, 1990;
Glossbrenner, 1989) can help you master these basics.
Finding a connection to a computer on a network is not always an easy task.
bulletin board systems (bbs). Telephone dial-up to a local bulletin board is a
readily available and generally free connection to a computer network. Computer
stores, the public library, education agencies, or computing centers at local
colleges should be able to provide information about bulletin boards in your
and university computer systems. Most colleges and universities provide free or
low-cost accounts on their computer systems to all students. These systems
usually connect to BITNET or some other network that in turn provides access to
the Internet. Educators who are enrolled in college or university courses should
inquire about network access.
and regional systems. A growing number of states, including Texas, Virginia,
Florida, and North Dakota, provide low-cost or free connections to schools
and/or teachers, administrators, and students within the state. These networks
generally provide some statewide services (e.g., bulletin boards, conferencing,
curriculum resources sharing, administrative data transfer) as well as a gateway
to the Internet and other networks. In addition, some of the National Science
Foundation mid-level and regional networks are providing fee-based access to the
Internet. Contact state education agencies to learn about services and costs.
computing facilities. Local schools and districts are just beginning to develop
wide area network capabilities. Check with your building or district computer
support personnel to see what is available to you.
vendors. Commercial vendors provide a wide range of fee-based information
resources and services, including electronic mail and messaging. Many of the
commercial systems offer, or intend to offer, connections to the Internet (see
Notess, 1992 for list).
SELECTED K-12 NETWORK RESOURCES
Academy One. Affiliated with the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN)
and the Cleveland Free-Net, this program aims to create a "national online
information cooperative for K-12 telecomputing activities." Schools throughout
the world access the resources of Academy One's community computer systems and
participate in a variety of online projects and events. Contact: Linda Delzeit,
NPTN Director of Education, Box 1987, Cleveland, OH 44106; (216) 368-2733.
AppleLink. This official online information resource of the Apple Computer
community offers a K-12 Education Area with discussion forums, software reviews,
conference listings, lesson plans, and research results. Contact: Lisa Bauer,
Mail Stop 41-D, Apple Computer, Inc., 20525 Mariani Ave., Cupertino, CA 95014;
Commercial Vendors. Following are some of the many commercial networks
offering some resources and services specifically for education: America Online,
8619 Westwood Center Drive, Vienna, VA 22182, 800-827-6364. America Tomorrow,
P.O. Box 2310, W. Bethesda, MD 20827-2310, 800-456-8881. GTE Education Services,
West Airfield Drive, P.O. Box 619810, D/FW Airport, TX 75261-9810, 800-927-3000.
FrEdMail. The "Free Educational Mail Network," the oldest and largest
educational network in the U.S., uses the Internet to link more than 150
electronic bulletin boards operated by individuals and institutions. (See
Rogers, 1992). FrEdMail offers collaborative activities designed to help
students become better writers and learners. It also promotes the sharing of
resources and experiences among teachers. For information on finding a local
node or setting up your own electronic mail center, contact: Al Rogers, FrEdMail
Foundation, P.O. Box 243, Bonita, CA 91908; (619) 475-4852. Internet:
K12Net. This bulletin
board-based system works through "echo" forums around major curriculum areas for
teachers and students interested in particular topics. These forums facilitate
cooperative projects such as Global Village News (see opening). Access to K12Net
is through FidoNet, a free general-interest computer network that joins more
than 15,000 computer bulletin boards in more than 50 countries. Participation is
free to anyone with local bulletin board access. To find active bulletin boards
in your region, call a local computer store or your public library (Rose, 1992).
KIDSNET. Accessible through the Internet, KIDSNET is a global discussion
group for teachers and others interested in networking for children and
education. (See Join KIDSNET!, 1991.) Participants discuss general questions
regarding computer networking and user interfaces, and specific projects that
link teachers and students using the Internet. KIDS is an associated list just
for children. To subscribe to KIDSNET, send an Internet request to:
JOINKIDS@PITTVMS.BITNET. Children with access to the Internet can post messages
to KIDS by sending mail to: KIDS@PITTVMS.BITNET.
REFERENCES AND READINGS
Clement, John. (1992,
January/February). Network-based collaborations: How universities can support
K-12 reform efforts. EDUCOM Review, 27(1), 8-12.
Glossbrenner, Alfred. (1989). The complete handbook of personal computer
communications: Everything you need to go online with the world, 3rd ed. New
York: St. Martin's Press.
Jensen, Eric. (December 1991/January 1992). At-risk students online. The
Computing Teacher, 19(4), 10-11.
Join KIDSNET! (1991, December). NYSERNET User, 2(2), 6.
Kochmer, Jonathan. (1991). NorthWestNet User Services Internet Resource Guide
(NUSIRG), 3rd ed. Bellevue, WA: NorthWestNet.
Notess, Greg R. (1992, September). Gaining access to the Internet. Online,
Polly, Jean Armour. (1992, June). Surfing the Internet: An introduction.
Wilson Library Bulletin, 66(10), 38-42, 155.
Polly, Jean Armour. (1992, December). Surfing the Internet, Volume 2.
Available through anonymous ftp at host nysernet.org, directory
pub/resources/guides, filename surfing.the.internet.2.0.txt.
Roberts, N., Blakeslee, G., Brown, M., & Lenk, C. (1990). Integrating
telecommunications into education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Rose, Mike. (1992, May/June). Are you plugged into the global classroom?
American Teacher, 76(6): 8-9.
was adapted from: Eisenberg, Michael B. & Ely, Donald P. Plugging Into the
'Net. The ERIC Review, 2(3), 1-29.