Using the Internet in Vocational Education. ERIC
by Wagner, Judith O.
"It is an exciting time in education. The Internet offers new opportunities
for students and teachers a link to learn in interesting ways" (Ellsworth
1994, p. xxiii).
"Telecommunications truly is one of the most exciting educational tools
I have encountered in my teaching career" (Watson 1994, p. 41). "
The Internet's usefulness is limited only by our level of commitment.
We first have to get plugged in before we can get turned on. Then we can
help our profession by using our imagination to create a vocational educator's
Dream Net in the years to come" (Seguin and Seguin 1995, p. 33).
The Internet is a vast computer-based network of networks that includes
listservs and newsgroups--discussion forums on specific topics--as well
as electronic mail and electronic journals. It is used in education, business,
and leisure, and students must be able to navigate it to become prepared
citizens. This ERIC Digest does not pretend to be an exhaustive list of
vocational education resources on the Internet--the list changes daily.
It offers suggestions for using the Internet in the vocational classroom
and lists newsgroups, World Wide Web (WWW) sites, listservs, and electronic
journals of interest to vocational educators. It also serves as a supplement
to an ERIC Key, LOCATING ERIC CLEARINGHOUSE ON ADULT, CAREER, AND VOCATIONAL
EDUCATION MATERIALS ON THE INTERNET.
Much of the material for this Digest was received as a result of a message
sent to the VOCNET listserv asking how vocational educators were using
the Internet in their classrooms. Responses varied widely. Many of the
respondents indicated that they were just getting started with the Internet
and using it primarily for sending messages. Some students have joined
listservs and newsgroups; others have surfed the 'Net for information and
materials from all over the world.
EXAMPLES OF CURRENT USE
The director and associate professor of vocational-technical education
at Dakota State University uses the Internet primarily for e-mail. He requires
students to send queries to AskERIC; in his "Technology in Voc Ed" course,
graduate students have to use the WWW and sign up for a listserv. He is
considering offering a course for vocational education personnel entirely
through the Internet (A. Seguin, Internet message, June 20, 1995).
Cognitive Training Associates, Inc. develops and uses networks for large
corporations. They use the Internet to distribute technology-based training
applications--core skill acquisition and reinforcement, knowledge transfer
and sharing, and use of job-specific smart applications that perform lower-level
tasks and provide on-demand expertise (M. Brown, Internet message, June
A secondary vocational teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina, is planning
to use the Internet in her international trade and marketing class. The
students have participated in real-time conferences with schools in Finland,
Israel, and many places in the United States, studying such topics as farm
subsidies, economic development, the European Union, and trade issues.
Through a Junior Achievement project, Globe, her class will be exporting
and importing products from a class in another country (C. Rainwater, Internet
message, June 20, 1995).
The Technical Integration Project coordinator at a Maryland high school
assigned seniors to write a research paper related to their trade area.
Working with a local community college, she and her students used their
resources, library, and online workstations. The resource center personnel
provided instruction in research and use of the Maryland Internet connection.
Students downloaded materials, joined listservs, and communicated with
others on the Internet to get the information they needed. The WWW is their
next step (R. A. Fitzgerald, Internet message, June 19, 1995).
Students in the University of Florida counseling program use e-mail,
surf the WWW for information, and have group e-mail sessions. The "ticket"
to their final exam was to find Universal Resource Locators (URLs) that
were career related as well as some that were just for fun. Plans for next
year include matching beginning students with experienced counselors who
are using a developmental approach via e-mail (R. Myrick, Internet message,
June 25, 1995).
Students at a high school in Calgary, Alberta, exchange mail with people
all over the world, subscribe to listservs and newsgroups, and use Internet
Relay Chat (IRC) to converse with others in real time over the Internet.
They make friends and learn about other cultures, lifestyles, and philosophies.
Students have located software for a Japanese language course, searched
for resources to use in assignments, and introduced a new discussion group
The Texas Education Agency Quality Workforce Planning program runs a
statewide newsgroup for Texas teachers. They use the state's gopher/Web
site for statewide priority occupations and regional targeted occupations
lists which are heavily used at the State Employment (Security) Commission's
Telnet bulletin board system. They distribute materials via e-mail to tech
prep and Quality Work Force Planning locations (D. Kinnaman, Internet message,
June 26, 1995).
An agricultural education teacher suggests that technology must follow
and facilitate the curriculum while helping students and teachers reach
their goals. Some of the reasons cited for going online include access
to a tremendous amount of information, the ability to communicate with
others who share specific interests, and the fact that it motivates students
POTENTIAL AND PROBLEMS
Advantages of using the Internet include its ability to arouse the interest
of students, the ease of communication among teachers for sharing ideas,
the availability of new resources, and the potential to develop new relationships
all over the world (Pool et al. 1995). The Internet also offers the possibility
of interaction with experts (P. McCorkle, Internet message, July 18, 1995).
Telecommunications, specifically the Internet, are potentially the most
significant educational tools to come along in quite a while. However,
there are problems such as making sure that the technology is used in educationally
appropriate ways. Too often people worry more about the accessibility of
the Internet to all students than about using it effectively in their classrooms
(Maddux 1994). Other problems include antiquated hardware and software
particularly in elementary schools, lack of technical and curriculum support,
lack of coherent structure, stability, and documentation, lack of training,
censorship, and quality control (Maddux 1994; Murphy 1995).
ADDRESSES, LISTSERVS, USENET NEWSGROUPS,
ELECTRONIC JOURNALS, AND WWW SITE
Listservs are automated mailing lists of people with a similar interest.
They are used for transmitting news, searching for information, and networking.
All messages are sent to members' mailboxes. Following are some listservs
that are of interest to vocational educators.
email@example.com (American Association for
firstname.lastname@example.org (adult and continuing education)
email@example.com (AUTOCAD discussion list)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Technologies in Business Education)
email@example.com (discussion of business
education teaching practices)
firstname.lastname@example.org (for faculty, staff, and
administrators at two-year institutions)
email@example.com (National Educational
firstname.lastname@example.org (education policy analysis)
email@example.com (Florida School-to-Work
firstname.lastname@example.org (National Business Education
email@example.com (National Workforce Assistance
firstname.lastname@example.org (School-to-Work Network)
email@example.com (School-to-work/tech prep)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Special Interest
Group/Telecommunications of ISTE)
email@example.com (teaching in the community college)
firstname.lastname@example.org (technology education)
email@example.com (training and development)
firstname.lastname@example.org (National Center for Research
in Vocational Education)
Usenet is a distributed message system that exchanges messages among
subscriber sites (Ellsworth 1994). Newsgroups of interest to vocational
educators include the following:
The World Wide Web allows the possible integration of full-color graphics,
varying typefaces, animation, and sound (Seguin and Seguin 1995). WWW sites
of interest include:
Universal resource locator
Florida School-to-Work Clearinghouse
Search for keywords throughout the Web
National Center for Research in
Employment for the U.S. high technology industry
National Library of Education
(through the U.S. Department of Education)
North Central Regional Educational Laboratory
Texas Tool Box from North Harris Montgomery
Community College District
The Education Center, Peterson's Guides
A catalog of the WWW
Internet addresses to try for information on additional resources include:
National Center for Research in
ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career,
and Vocational Education
Many electronic journals and newsletters are available over the Internet.
A few are listed here.
(refereed journal for community college educators)
(American Journal of Distance Education)
email@example.com (information technology news)
(Educational Uses of Information Technology)
(New Horizons in Adult Education)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Journal of Extension)
(Journal of Technology Education)
email@example.com (Teaching in the Community Colleges)
Ellsworth, J. H. EDUCATION ON THE INTERNET. Indianapolis, IN: Sams Publishing,
Hanson, W. R. "Student Drivers on the Information Highway." WILSON LIBRARY
BULLETIN 69, no. 3 (November 1994): 34-37. (EJ 493 345)
Maddux, C. D. "The Internet: Educational Prospects And Problems." EDUCATIONAL
TECHNOLOGY 34, no. 7 (September 1994): 37-42. (EJ 489 815)
Murphy, T. "Merging Your Classroom onto the Information Superhighway."
AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION MAGAZINE 67, no. 2 (August 1994): 6-8.
Pool, T. S.; Blanchard, S. M.; and Hale, S. A. "From over the Internet."
TECHTRENDS 40, no. 1 (January-February 1995): 24-28. (EJ 497 975)
Seguin, A., and Seguin, C. "Window to the World." VOCATIONAL EDUCATION
JOURNAL 70, no. 2 (February 1995): 30-33. (EJ 497 204)
Watson, L. "Net Talk." VOCATIONAL EDUCATION JOURNAL 69, no. 6 (September