ERIC Identifier: ED314914
Publication Date: 1989-00-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and
Gifted Children Reston VA.
Using Personal Computers To Acquire Special Education
Information. Revised. ERIC Digest #429.
Personal computers (also known as home computers or PCs) can provide access
to a variety of information in special education including professional
literature, curricular and resource materials, training events, and news. They
also make it possible for computer users to communicate with each other. This
digest answers some basic questions about resources for professional development
that are available to users of personal computers. Two types of resources are
described: those that can be purchased on computer diskettes and those made
available by linking personal computers through electronic telephone networks.
This digest will be most useful to readers who are somewhat familiar with the
operation of personal computers.
USING A PERSONAL COMPUTER AS A SELF-CONTAINED UNIT
types of references that previously were available only in books or through
electronic search devices are now available on diskette. Owning a diskette
version of this type of material gives quick access to the information at any
time and, because of the computer's search capability, can make it much easier
to find the specific information you need.
The ERIC Clearinghouse on Information Resources has made selected portions of
the ERIC database available on diskettes for use with most personal computers.
ERIC citations on Computer Literacy and on Microcomputer Software/Hardware
Evaluation and Selection are available, and database diskettes on
Library/Information Science and Educational Technology are available in
quarterly updates beginning with 1982. Each of the quarterly updates contains
250 to 350 citations on the appropriate topic entered in the ERIC system by
For further information contact the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information
Resources, Syracuse University, School of Education, 150 Marshall Street,
Huntington Hall, Room 030, Syracuse, NY 13244 (1-315-443-3640).
USING A PERSONAL COMPUTER FOR NETWORKING
to the capability of computers to communicate with other computers. To do this,
a microcomputer is attached to a modem, an electronic device that converts the
computer's binary code to auditory signals and sends the signals to other
computers via a telephone line. In this manner, individuals can access the
information stored in many other computers, even those that are thousands of
miles away. By using telecommunications, individuals can contact large data
banks, information services, or electronic bulletin boards.
BRS AND DIALOG
Two services make their online education
databases available to individuals. BRS/After Dark and DIALOG's Knowledge Index
both use a simple system whereby words or phrases are used to locate relevant
documents. The services to individuals are simplified versions of the regular
search services used primarily by libraries, resource centers, businesses, and
other organizations. Many public libraries and university libraries offer
searches of these systems to individuals. The fees for such services vary
Both BRS and DIALOG offer access to the ERIC and Exceptional Child Education
Resources (ECER) databases, descriptions of which follow. Each system also
offers other related databases covering such areas as vocational education,
educational testing, and the professional literature in psychology and
For further information contact DIALOG/Knowledge Index, 3460 Hillview Avenue,
Palo Alto, CA 94304 (1-800-334-2564) and BRS/After Dark, 1200 Route 7, Latham,
NY 12110 (1-800-468-0908 or 1-800-345-4277).
THE ECER DATABASE
The Exceptional Child Education Resources
(ECER) database provides wide coverage of all types of professional literature
in special education including books, journal articles, reports, dissertations,
instructional materials, and nonprint media. ECER also includes most of the
special education literature that goes into the ERIC database. ECER is developed
and maintained by The Council for Exceptional Children, 1920 Association Drive,
Reston, Virginia 22091 (1-703-620-3660).
THE ERIC DATABASE
The ERIC database provides bibliographic
information on over 200,00 journal articles and nearly as many other
education-related documents. The 16 ERIC Clearinghouses, each with a different
scope of interest, contribute information to the database. The Council for
Exceptional Children operates the ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted
Children. Over 2,000 items are added to the database each year by this
ERIC ON CD-ROM
Three vendors are currently offering the
ERIC database on CD-ROM (compact disk read only memory): DIALOG
(1-800-334-2564), OCLC (1-614-764-6000), and SilverPlatter (1-617-239-0306).
This technology allows a search of ERIC via a personal computer attached to a
CD-ROM player. However, the costs range in the area of $800 per year. The cost
is fixed, which allows libraries an alternative to on-line searching, but it is
not geared for individuals at the present time.
ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK
SpecialNet is an
electronic communications network designed for special educators. This system is
operated by GTE Education Services, Inc., in Washington, DC. SpecialNet has two
functions. First, it provides an electronic mail service that allows subscribers
to send private messages to other SpecialNet subscribers. Second, it provides a
number of electronic bulletin boards where public information on diverse topics
can be listed and accessed by any subscriber. Many of these bulletin boards are
also online databases; the information put on the bulletin boards is collected
and made available for online searching on a long-term basis.
Following are some of SpecialNet's bulletin boards:
Th e annual subscription fee to SpecialNet is $200. No minimum use
per month is required. Contact Anna Snodgrass at GTE Education Services, Inc.,
2021 K Street, NW, Suite 215, Washington DC 20006 (1-202-835-7300).
APPLE SPECIAL EDUCATION SOLUTIONS
Solutions is an online database of resources available to Apple computer users
who are disabled. Maintained by Apple's Office of Special Education, it
currently contains close to 1,000 entries describing adaptive devices,
specialized software, support organizations, and publications. New entries are
added regularly. Every authorized Apple dealer can help locate the information
needed to tailor an Apple computer to the requirements and learning styles of
disabled children and adults. For further information, call 1-800-538-9696.
Apple Computer also sponsors the Apple Bulletin Board on SpecialNet.
IBM/SPECIAL NEEDS EXCHANGE
The IBM/Special Needs Exchange
is an online information resource available nationwide through the CompuServe
Information Service. It is designed to promote sharing of information among
users. It features a wide variety of resources including information on
educational software and computer technology products and programs. The Exchange
is coordinated by LINC Resources and is sponsored by IBM. Contact CompuServe
(1-800-848-8990 or 1-614-457-8650).
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Two ERIC digests provide more detail
on using ERIC electronically: "Accessing ERIC With Your Microcomputer" and "New
Access Points to ERIC--CD-ROM Versions." Both digests are available from the
ERIC Clearinghouse on Information Resources, Syracuse University, School of
Education, 150 Marshall Street, Huntington Hall, Room 030, Syracuse, NY