Papers & Essays

TeacherNet

"I cannot teach anybody anything,
I can only make them think."...Socrates

  1. Societies in Transition - Requirements for the Educational System
  2. The Initiative "Schools Online"
  3. Internationalization of L-O: TeacherNet
  4. The Long-Term Goals of the Initiative

I. Societies in Transition - Requirements for the Educational System

These days society is undergoing a fundamental transformation from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. New technologies, such as the Internet and the multimedia computer, have largely increased the availability, the storage capacity, the processing and the distribution of information. In the information society information and knowledge have to be considered the capital of the future.

The new technologies as well as the increasing availability of information compels us to update our handling of information and knowledge. This currently occurs in two different respects. On the one hand we have to learn how to use the new technologies. On the other hand we have to learn how to transform information into knowledge. Media competence, the ability to utilise the new media in a responsible, critical and useful way, is an important skill of the future.

Considerable challenges obviously await the educational sector in the Information Age. An important task consists in familiarising schools with this changing landscape. It is acknowledged that teachers are the key actors when it comes to introducing the educational use of computers. It is therefore imperative to draw the teacher's attention to the opportunities of learning with computer networks. These new opportunities are:

  • Boundaries disappear: Pupils communicate and work together in networks on a local, regional and global level.
  • Established roles take on new dimensions: Teachers and pupils are forced to re-evaluate the positions they have held until now.
  • New requirements emerge: Individual initiative and team skills are crucial to applying the new media in a useful and effective manner.
In response to the above mentioned developments and the resulting requirements the Federal German Ministry of Education and Research and Deutsche Telekom AG launched the initiative "Schulen ans Netz e.V." ("Schools Online") in 1996.

II. The Initiative "Schools Online"

By establishing the association "Schools Online" in 1996 the Federal German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and Deutsche Telekom AG launched a social initiative to introduce multimedia technologies in schools. The aim of the association is to firmly establish the use of the new media and the use of the Internet as an integral part of day-to-day teaching in schools.

"Schools Online" is a registered association which collaborates with the Ministries of Education and Cultural Affairs of Germany's individual federal states, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the individual federal states of the Federal Republic of Germany, the representatives of schools' maintaining bodies and sponsors from industry.

The objectives of the initiative consist in the improvement of the infrastructure in schools, in the development of pedagogical concepts for classroom-teaching and learning as well as for the further vocational training of teachers and in the development of service and support structures and online services.

Assistance for teachers

Since the role of the teacher is crucial, teachers already in service need to be carried along in the evolution as quickly as possible. The integration of ICT into the learning process will fundamentally change the role of teachers and traditional educational methodology will change substantially. Teachers will rather have a guidance function than an instructional role. Future generations of teachers have to be trained for their new role in the information society.

"Schools Online" provides assistance for teachers by organising conferences and workshops, by supplying them with offline media such as handbooks and CD-ROMs and via the online service "Teachers Online" (www.lehrer-online.de).

"Teachers Online" is a contemporary online service for members of the teaching profession. It provides a fund of material for classroom teaching as well as for teacher training purposes. Forum and chat groups make "Teachers Online" an interactive communication platform.

In 1999 "Schools Online" launched its platform for female teachers - LeaNet (www.leanet.de). LeaNet is an information, service and working platform for female teachers as well as for women striving for this profession. A wide range of information is available. Subject specific forum and chat possibilities make this platform even more attractive.

Assistance for classrooms

In addition to LeaNet "Schools Online" has launched a Network for girls and young women, so called LizzyNet (www.lizzynet.de). The online network "LizzyNet" started on the 7th of April 2000. The offer is addressed to female pupils from the age of 14 years up. They won't need any previous knowledge for this project. There will be appropriate offers for internet experienced members as well as for beginners. LizzyNet is a platform for communication and learning which contains a comprehensive public section and a section that is only accessible to members.

"Schools Online" launched in 1999 two different platforms for a special use in the classroom:
a) "Nature Detectives on the Internet" (www.naturdetektive.de) focuses on students, groups of students as well as individuals, groups of nature conservation and the public in general, using the Internet to interactively locate their field observations on plants & animals and local ecosystems by clicking on a map producing a colored interactive pictogram/icon. Seconds later these entries are visible as interactive icons on a map. With the growing number of observations on country level the development or "migration" of the observed plants and animals can be tracked dynamically on various maps with different scales. The colored pictograms/icons are interactive and linked to the observer's individually attached information work-spaces via database functionality.

This allows communication, exchange of experiences and comments between participants and facilitates the exchange of experiences and better understanding of the different situations. The project is regarded as a complementary way of how to introduce and handle "nature" in environmental education how to raise public awareness and stimulate broad public participation. The combination between practical field-based observations with the New Media (Internet) shall stimulate exchange of information and communication between participants on national level and open a new window in getting them interested in their natural (cultural) heritage.

b) "Afric@Life" (http://www.lehrer-online.de/africalife) is an interactive project of our online-service for teachers via internet pupils and their teachers can join a journalist-couple on their one-year-long trip across the African continent. Every week the two journalists, Kirsten Hildebrandt and Dirk Grote, send texts, photos and a diary about their experiences. Countries and people, animals and plants, cooking-recepies - with a mouseclick the distant continent seems so close. The aim of the project is to evoke interest for the people and to encourage the understanding of the different cultures living in Africa. Afric@Life is supported by experts and regional institutions.

Support / Helpdesk

The helpdesk addresses the specific technical questions which arise in day-to-day teaching. An ongoing exchange of experience makes the helpdesk a tool which is able to respond in a flexible manner and adapt to the prevailing requirements. To this end, the experts from "Schools Online" co-operate closely with the various hardware and software manufacturers.

III. Internationalization of L-O: TeacherNet

The development of an Internet Platform of Teacher-Online (L-O) in the direction of Internationalization would have the services in collaborating with teachers between German schools and institutions, and other European institutions and outside of Europe. The co-operation should work on the basis of transnational projectwork system supported by an (in L-O) embedded service area, on which the German teachers can easily get the help and support from other teachers in Europe and outside in organising and moderating the project events. Doing this most successful we need a platform of an "International Teachers-Network", so called TeacherNet, which includes the following services:

III.1 Pool of Information

III.1.1 Information about the different countries according to
  • School system
  • New Media: National approaches and programmes
  • Databases including all schools that can be available for contacts
III.1.2 Research and Information about International Projects and World Education Contests

Setting the information pool for the international proposal with following statements:
  • Project explanations, conditions of participation, Explaining the goals and aims and main area of work, Practical work, Initiators, and contact addresses
  • Definition of project and contacts will be given between collaborators (who is taking part in the project events)
And, these proposals must continue to be proved to have actual information. It will be an excellent point to include each project report at the end of project, but this cannot be taken as guaranteed.

THE GLOBE PROGRAM at (http://www.globe.gov) -with mission of Global Learning and Observations to benefit the Environment, includes services in the direction of Teacher's Guide, School Collaboration, Scientist's corner, Educator's corner, Teacher Workshops, and many more interesting events. GLOBE is a worldwide network of students, teachers, and scientists, working together to study and understand the Global environment.

III.1.3 Annotated Lists of European and International Databases, Online & Multimedia Library

which includes: Titles with short explanation of each services with statements according to themes, conditional hints, user conditions and addresses of contact persons

i.e. Collaborative Multilingual Encyclopaedia at
http://www.cn.eun.org/encyclopaedia/en

III.1.4 Annotated Lists of European and International Networks

which includes: Titles with short explanation of each network with statements according to themes, conditional hints, user conditions and addresses of contact persons

Examples:
a) ITEACHNET: The International Educator's Network Association (http://www.iteachnet.org) Iteachnet is an association of International school teachers and administrators.
b) Online Community for K-8 Educators (http://www.teachernet.com) This site is an educational storehouse for K-8 teaching resource for educational projects, and Classroom tools.
c) European Experts' Networks for Educational Technology at (http://www.eenet.org) is great -you can use this site as Mentors in our HELPDESK, one more site is highly recommended under Helpdesk is of European Schoolnet at http://www.de.eun.org/menu/projects/helpdesk.html)
d) European Treasury Browser (ETB) at (http://www.en.eun.org/etb) is a new tools of teachers and learners -ETB is the European Schoolnet's web-based educational resource infrastructure.
e) EdUTOpia is a free newsletter published semi-annually by The George Lucas Educational Foundation (details, see http://www.glef.org) -Each issue of newsletter shares insights and information about effective innovations in K-12 public education, with a special emphasis on the power of interactive media to enliven the learning process. To become a subscriber, please send an e-mail to (edutopia@glef.org) -with mission to tell stories of education.
f) Evaluating Web Resources by Jan Alexander and Marsha Ann Tate See http://www2.widener.edu/Wolfgram-Memorial-Library/webevaluation/webeval.htm
g) Science Education Research in Visual Instructional Technology (SERVIT) -is a research project launched by North Carolina State University, USA -with a mission to research the effects of electronic instructional delivery systems and technology tools on the learning and teaching of science. The research areas at SERVIT, includes the CALCULATOR-BASED LABORATORIES, MICROCOMPUTER-BASED LABORATORIES, SIMULATIONS, TEACHER EDUCATION, VIDEO & MULTIMEDIA and TELECOMMUNICATIONS. More details, see (http://www.ncsu.edu/servit)
h) Web-Based Science Networks (http://www.techlearning.com/db_area/archives/WCE/archives/bodzin.htm) [List of recommended sites] with Instruction Materials in Science Education at (http://www.ncsu.edu/imse) and SCIENCE JUNCTION -a cyber-community for teachers, students, and researchers of science at (http://www.ncsu.edu/sciencejunction)
i) Where the World Comes to Learn at (http://www.globalearn.com) The site is suitable for teachers, parents and students. their mission is -the opportunity to improve the way we educate our kids -with new technologies.
j) Global Schoolhouse at LIGHTSPAN.com (provides online learning for school and home) -a world class educational portal. Please look for *Collaborative Projects* at Global Schoolhouse site (http://www.gsh.org) at this site -one can read the databases of different projects -since 1984, GSH has been a leader in the Collaborative Learning -the site provide a wide area of opportunity for teachers worldwide to share their wisdom, to collaborate, communicate and celebrate shared learning experience. One more aspect of GSH is important, which deals with Communication Tools (as described elsewhere in the writing of Teacher International). They are using the communication tools, with interactive features such as Classroom Conferencing, Mailing lists, Discussion Boards, and Newsletter to communicate with other professionals around the world.
For more details, please see (http://www.gsh.org) -a one click educational organization.
k) Well Connected Educator at (http://www.techlearning.com/index2.html) The online publishing center for K-12 community to write, read, and talk about educational technology has merged with Technology and Learning magazine. Contact person: Gwen Solomon, Co-Director TechLEARNING.com (Formerly The Well Connected Educator) E-mail: gwens@ix.netcom.com
l) Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) at (http://www.cosn.org)
CoSN promotes the use of telecommunications to improve K-12 learning and explores the practical application and approach of emerging technologies. It also fosters partnerships and collaboration and support in building the networking of schools.
m) The Concord Consortium - is an educational organization, with a mission to realize the educational promise of technology in schools, which also support in development and dissemination of dynamic and successful educational tool nationwide. More details: see (http://www.concord.org) and also see Current Projects such as BioLogica, CILT: The Center for Innovative Learning Technologies, and others at (http://www.concord.org/projects/index.html)

Others in Europe: EUN at www.eun.org, EEP at http://www.eep-edu.org/1.1.1.htm,

III.2 Contacts and exchanges

The forum of co-operation for teachers between Germany and foreign countries with the shared interests to the German-International contacts. The function of matching proposals between those organizations who are proposing the projects and those organizations who are showing their great interests will be done through L-O/ TeacherNet.

Profile:
Partners in TeacherNet (other networks like L-O) will look after those collaborators, who is looking for partnership for project from L-O to outside Germany and vice versa. From there the projects can be allotted to different educational institutions through Internet Platform in foreign countries with a request to look for more partners and support. And, those educators from the foreign countries who are looking for projects with German institutions via TeacherNet, will be responsible for this job L-O in Germany. L-O will further publish the project proposals on their platform in Germany.

At last, it is an important aspect to get the agents -that should (or able to) work on the L-O model, to bring the outstanding performances in the networking of schools.

In above discussed points -the goals of portal functions with the development of an information platform -the schools/educational institutions should be supported by the agencies (i.e. L-O) competent and transparent in the solution with following questions:

How can I find the partner for my project?

How can I finance my project?

How can I organize my project?

How can I finance and organize my travels/meeting for my project?

How can I prepare my project results for web-based events?

III.3 Projects

Development of projects like (i.e.) Exil- Club (www.exil-club.de), LizzyNet (www.lizzynet.de) , Expedition www.yourexpedition.com) internationally.

III.4 International Marketplace for Online- Courses and Professionell Development

We haven't done it nationally.
  • Online - teaching and learning platforms for schools and other educational Institutions. Realisation of a teaching and learning platform for the inter- / intranet allowing learners to compose units for several students, student-groups or school-classes. This platform will include appropriate feedbacks for teacher support and learning score for students as well as criteria for the analysis of single and group performances. Teachers are able to intervene in learning processes. The learning platform will also offer open interfaces for the import of units from other services.
  • Learning centre - online - advanced training services / courses. Realisation of a learning centre for scalable, specifiable learning processes. Courses (computer, internet, network technology) will be offered by the learning centre. Moreover the platform will have an open access for other services by providing an extra room. This extra room allows to organise and to edit complex contents for the learning online. Communication facilities for assisting are a basic part of this system. An extension of the learning centre with video and audio support is planned as soon as bigger bandwidths are available. In general all online courses will provide certificates.

IV. The Long-Term Goals of the Initiative

The long-term goal of the initiative mainly consists in connecting all the 44,000 German schools to the Internet until 2001.

Equal access has to be ensured, in order to avoid the rising of a "knowledge gap" between those who can afford and know how to use the new technologies and those who cannot. It is imperative that also socially-disadvantaged persons are given the possibility to have access to the new technologies.

In times of the united Europe a great emphasis has to be put on intercultural aspects. Also multidisciplinary aspects of the learning process have to be promoted.

As the information society will demand an unprecedented level of technology literacy from tomorrow's workers the concept of life-long learning has to be supported and the pupils have to be prepared for the new professions in the field of ICT.

The best use of Internet in education is as medium to carry out online projects with other schools. Through this sort of collaboration, teachers and pupils can benefit more from taking part in online projects with other schools, rather than just using the World Wide Web as a global library of good, bad and indifferent material. The network is very good for communications that do not require the sender and receiver to be present at the same time. Asynchronous communication is more convenient, more adaptable to a person's schedule, works far better internationally, can result in more thoughtful interactions, and usually requires less and lower bandwidth technology. When new technologies become available, it takes time to realize their potential.

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