Computer Department Chair
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Roanoke, VA 24018 USA
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Telecommunication Projects That Work . . . and Why!
For several years now, students and educators have used telecommunication networks to explore the exciting possibilities of completing bibliographic research on-line and sharing data or cultural information with peers from across the world. This presentation will examine successful activities and explain why some are repeated year after year without losing the ability to captivate the imagination. This session will also identify and discuss common characteristics of these fascinating projects.
For example, telecommunications enable educators to provide a plethora of on-line activities. Thus, when using electronic resources such as Dialog, students quickly appreciate the vast mountains of information available for bibliographic research.
On-line libraries and databases allow searches through books, magazines, thesis papers, professional journals, encyclopedias and full text newspapers. Other telecommunication activities span the curriculum from A to Z . . . art to zoology. In Language Arts, students ages 10 to 15 can write a short essay to answer the Kids-93 questions. Two of them are “Who am I?” and “How do I want the world to be better when I grow up?” Students share poetry, book reviews, creative writing and newspaper articles for student newsletters. All telecommunication exercises use reading and writing skills essential in developing communication expertise. A Physical Education project sponsored by the Cleveland FreeNet invites mathematical analysis of the results of an international games day. Classrooms from across the world share information which is sent to all interested participants and observers.
Analysis by a computer spreadsheet, graphing or statistical program demonstrates a purpose for using and understanding mathematical skills, thereby sparking an interest in learning these abstract principles.
Foreign Language students also practice their expertise when communicating with their peers. Students learn the nuances of idioms and quickly master subtle phrases as they explore the commonalities and wondrous differences of their cultures. In addition to sharing folk lore, local customs and history with others, there are Internet and Bitnet discussion groups conducted in a native foreign language.
Science enthusiasts share data from experiments or provide opportunities to develop and use scientific reports from around the world, design futuristic worlds based on known principles or observe phenomena occurring daily. For example, earthquake data allow students to see faults in the earth’s crust slowly emerge as map pins track the sites of significant earthquake activity.
Readily available global connections make Social Studies a natural arena for sharing and comparing. There are probably more projects that include Social Studies than any other curriculum division. However, looking at curriculum areas artificially delineates the power of the most inviting telecommunication activity. Effective projects are interdisciplinary, if not by design then by the nature of sharing the international experience. However, educators recognize the most exciting benefit for the future of education as the melting of curriculum divisions created by the requirement of a variety of skills and knowledge from all areas. Telecommunication activities are engaging, compelling and powerfully attractive for its participants. We as educators are challenged to find a way to increase use of this new technology, and this presentation will explore how we can transform our own classroom into a global classroom.