This creative exploration, invention and testing will require a change in schools that breaks down isolation, facilitates the work of teams and provides ample time for program development.
Because a previous volume, How Teachers Learn Technology Best (McKenzie, 1999), provides a detailed portrait of successful professional development practices, this book will not repeat that material other than to point out the crucial role such investments can play in helping a district to cross the chasm and promote frequent, standards-based usage.
5. Design a network system
to support learning goals and activities
Once the program "horse" is directly leading the network "cart," the design process changes dramatically. The chief design issue is utility. The design team will want to know clearly and simply what the network can do to help produce the student learning outcomes identified as the main reason for building the network in the first place.
A. Information Power: Quality Information to the User Desktop
- When a student or teacher sits down at any networked desktop, how rich and reliable are the information resources made available? Does the network support student research and problem solving?
- Does the network support powerful information harvesting in a child friendly manner?
- Is there a periodical collection on every computer such as EBSCO, Electric Library, or ProQuest which supplies current articles on topics which are supportive of the school curriculum?
- Is there an assortment of electronic reference tools on every computer such as an encyclopedia, an atlas, a thesaurus, and a dictionary?
- Does the network provide user friendly access to information resources available on the Internet with appropriate "interfaces" so that teachers and students may move rapidly and efficiently to useful information?
- Does the network provide adequate bandwidth so that information arrives rapidly and efficiently?
- Does the network provide access to locally collected data (such as historical documents and water quality data) and lesson resources in support of the curriculum?
- Does the network provide access to local resources such as library books, videos, curriculum guides, board policies, personnel policies, etc.?
- Does the design of the desktop or "interface" make location of information and navigation efficient and comfortable?
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