An Integration/Inservice Model that Works
by DR. DICK PAUL, Assistant Principal Totino-Grace High School Fridley, Minn. Five years ago we had 30 Apple IIe computers tucked away in a lab and the only teachers who used them were the business teacher, a computer programming instructor and an occasional math teacher. We worked each year presenting inservice to our faculty and encouraging their use of the available technology, but something was missing. There was no interest in bringing technology into the broader curriculum areas. Today we have three Macintosh labs: one networked lab, one non-networked lab and one open-access lab. We have two Quadra computers linked to ISDN lines, five mobile CD-ROM stations with color computers and LCD projection panels, two videodisc players with color computers, one flatbed scanner, a Canon still-video camera, five modems, six Apple PowerBooks, two stationary teaching stations with LCD panels and computers, two mobile carts with LCD panels and computers, one dedicated computer and printer for faculty use, a dozen Internet accounts, one AppleLink account, one Minitel account and a fully automated library system with online database capabilities. Our administrative offices are completely automated. The IBM platform is used for attendance, grade reporting, scheduling, accounting and development; Macintoshes are used for word processing, desktop publishing and file sharing. We have formed business partnerships with Apple Computer, Inc. (Christopher Columbus Consortium), U S West (Compass Project), Honda (Tapestry Grant program), and GTE North (Pioneering Partners in Education program in conjunction with the Great Lakes Council of Governors). We have education-to-education partnerships with the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Catherine, St. Louis Park public schools, St. Paul public schools, Breck School, Hill-Murray Middle School and St. John the Baptist Parish School. What happened to promote such a radical change in a mere five years? How Did We Get From There to Here? We started with an initial partnership with Dr. Ann Hill Duin, Department of Rhetoric, University of Minnesota. This partnership focused on writing across the curriculum. We invited seven faculty members (all computer illiterate) to make both a commitment to significant inservice for themselves and a technology project with their classes. In a conscious effort to make participation non-exclusive, we invited faculty members from varied curriculum areas (English, religion, special education, science and math). Despite development problems with the software (it was a Beta version), they all came up with a project. In some cases they completely rewrote their entire curriculum (English, grade nine); in other cases, they focused on a small project. The teachers' enthusiasm and excitement about what their students were doing led to an intensified interest by other faculty members about using technology in their classes. Teachers' hard work and dedication, and our partnership with the University of Minnesota staff, were instrumental in obtaining our first successful grant from the Christopher Columbus Consortium sponsored by Apple Computer. We had a valuable program in place in which college students were mentoring ninth-grade students in writing, and Apple was in the process of expanding a program they had piloted in the Southeastern United States. The direct result of becoming a consortium member was our first Macintosh computer lab; Apple donated a large portion of the equipment. In addition, our membership created a national network of other educators trying innovative technology applications. This network has since expanded to include 48 sites internationally. Each site consists of a post-secondary institution and either an elementary- or secondary-school partner. What Happened Next? Soon faculty and staff began to get really excited about the possible ways technology might enhance their curriculum. They were not interested in technology for technology's sake, but rather for better teaching and better learning experiences for students. We invited everybody in our building to take advantage of free, after-school inservice opportunities. Maintenance personnel, kitchen personnel, teaching faculty, support staff and administrators alike participated in our inservice program. We developed all our own inservice materials and our own philosophical approach: KISS -- "keep it simple, stupid." We did not overwhelm people, yet we gave them enough information to do something. Our initial word-processing inservice consisted of teaching how to turn the computer on, open the application, enter some text, save it and retrieve it. That was it! Then we told participants to go play with the computer for two weeks and we would teach them more. We were sensitive to the fears many adults have about computers. We did not preach "computers for computers sake," nor did we use jargon, but instead explained even the simplest computer terminology. Inservice sessions focused on how this could enhance their students' learning or how it could assist in their professional preparations. We expressly avoid overwhelming people or trying to teach them every feature of an application in a few meetings. We continue to do inservice on a regular, voluntary basis. Topics have included: introductory word processing, advanced word processing, databases, telecommunications, network use, CD-ROMs, videodiscs, HyperCard, Aldus Persuasion, HyperStudio, the Internet, spreadsheets, desktop publishing and curriculum models. The curriculum model inservice is especially unique. It focuses on models that our own teachers have developed for creative application of technology to the curriculum. Support Issues The original seven teachers talked constantly about the changes they were experiencing with their students. Such conversation prompted other teachers to become interested. Peer support was a key ingredient of teachers' willingness to experiment with the use of technology. Seasoned teachers made themselves available when new faculty used the lab for the first time. New converts merely had to have an idea about how they wanted to utilize technology, the rest was provided for them. Needless to say, administrative support was essential. In addition to capital dollars for the purchase of equipment, time was a tremendous gift from the administration. One teacher was given a half-time position as lab coordinator. This person now d'es all orientations with new classes, organizes the lab schedule, d'es all maintenance of the hardware and software, coordinates all telecommunications projects, works with teachers on curriculum models and develops new inservice models. The most exciting thing to see is teachers and students genuinely interested in what they are doing. Teachers continue to discuss technology's role in changing student attitudes, performance, achievement and behavior. These conversations generate excitement about new ways to deliver education. That, in turn, has also led to continued creative funding enterprises that have developed into other business-education partnerships. In addition to our own efforts, the local Apple vendor has been invaluable. Besides technical support, they are available to assist us whenever we have a design or software question. Apple Computer itself has also been helpful. GTE North and the Great Lakes Council of Governors were instrumental in the expansion of our telecommunications projects. Besides conducting a leadership institute in Connecticut, GTE provided the original four Internet accounts, four modems and technical support for us to begin exploring the available Internet's resources. Finally, U S West has stretched us beyond imagination in telecommunications. With them we have piloted high-end software and hardware that enable full videoconferencing with shared data in real time. Without the support and resources of all of these professionals and organizations, we would not be where we are today. Theoretical Underpinnings We have operated under several underlying theoretical assumptions for the past five years. The most important is a concept that we learned early on from Dr. Ann Hill Duin. She always encouraged us to make technology invisible. Consequently, our emphasis has been to provide a high level of support. Even today, teachers bring their classes into the lab to complete an assignment knowing that the lab coordinator will provide or arrange for technological support. Technology is a means to enhance the curriculum, not an end unto itself. We have also made a conscious effort to take a non-exclusive approach to technology. We did not want to create the image of a computer center for English or math or science. We wanted to say to everyone (and we did) that if they could think of a way to use the technology, we would find a way to help them. Successful Results So how did it work? Art, business, computer science, English, health, home economics, industrial arts, modern languages, math, music, physical education, religion, science and social studies classes all use the computer centers and portable equipment we have in a variety of ways and to various degrees. We have numerous telecommunications projects that expand our students' concept of the classroom. All of our modern languages (French, Spanish and German) teachers have their students correspond with students in their native tongues. Students participate in mentoring projects: post-secondary to secondary, secondary to secondary and secondary to elementary school; files are exchanged via telecommunications. One of our English honors classes has used the Internet to reach the Danté Project at Dartmouth University, accessing 600 years of scholarly research on the Inferno. Four of our science classes will use telecommunications to share their HyperCard projects. Our students are writing and working with real audiences, which gives them greater ownership of their writing, thereby increasing the quality of their work. One unique telecommunications project that resulted from our initial project with the University of Minnesota was a trial with U S West. We piloted a real-time, voice-video-data project in conjunction with U S West and Compression Labs (CLI) in California. The project entails doing videoconferencing and sharing data at the same time. Using Quadras, RasterOps graphics cards, video-compression boxes and ISDN phone lines, our students communicated live with students at remote locations. They shared the same data during these sessions and discussed changes that could enhance their writing. The next phase of the trial will not only involve post-secondary-to-secondary, but also, secondary-to-secondary cooperative projects. It will also attempt to be cross platform. Our teachers have expanded their concept of what education involves. Interdisciplinary work has exploded. Using our network, we have had numerous cooperative projects. For example, by saving thoughts in a public folder on the file server, we had an open discussion on the concept of good and evil between a religion class and a literature class. Our Macintosh Applications class cooperated with a ninth-grade religion class to produce a newspaper about biblical times using desktop publishing. And a senior religion class adopted a tenth-grade English class and offered advice by sharing network files with their partners. Another significant development has been the emergence of many new curriculum models.
Collaborative models, mentoring models, interdisciplinary models and distance-learning models have all been developed. Teachers' roles have been redefined and delivery methods have been substantially changed. Lively discussion has taken place among teachers about how the technology has changed their roles and enhanced curriculum. Teachers have become creative in the lab environment, discovering new teaching strategies to match the various new learning models. What Now? So far, 70% of our faculty have purchased their own computers. Many have modems and 15 have Internet accounts. There is a continuing demand for inservice on more advanced topics. The non-exclusive, invitational approach has been a tremendous success. We have removed the intimidation for non-computer-literate faculty and developed a positive attitude about technology as a curriculum-enhancement tool. We have formed a committee, including a new group of teachers, that is actively involved in formulating a long-range technology plan for the entire school. With continued administrative support, and our philosophical approach to making the technology invisible, hopefully we will continue to find new ways to expand both our students' and teachers' concepts of education. Dick Paul has been assistant principal at Totino-Grace High School for the past 11 years. He is a former math teacher at the high school. His doctorate is in educational policies and administration. E-mail: [email protected]
Companies or products mentioned: Aldus Persuasion; Aldus Corp., Seattle, Wash. Apple Computer, Inc., Cupertino. Calif. Canon U.S.A., Inc., Lake Success, N.Y. Compression Labs, Inc., San Jose, Calif. GTE North, Westfield, Ind. HyperCard; Claris Corp., Santa Clara, Calif. HyperStudio: Roger Wagner Publishing, El Cajon, Calif. RasterOps Corp., Santa Clara, Calif. U S West, Englewood, Colo.
This article originally appeared in the 04/01/1994 issue of THE Journal.