Overview of Effective Uses of the Internet in K-12
The Savvy Cyber Teacher®:
A Professional Development and Turnkey Training Model for the Use of Internet
in K-12 Education
Over the last four years teachers have heard everyone from Former President Clinton
to their local school principal talking about the importance of using the
Internet in education. Every time the issue is raised educators ask, “But
why should I use the Internet in MY classroom?” This is a critical
question whose answer lies at the heart of the Alliance Project and the Savvy
Cyber Teacher® training materials.
The focus of the Alliance Project comes from the experience of the Stevens Center for Improved Engineering and Science
Education (CIESE), which is the principal developer of the Savvy Cyber
Teacher training materials. In 1994, CIESE launched a three-year, $3 million
National Science Foundation project to pioneer the use of the Internet in K-12
mathematics and science classrooms throughout the state of New Jersey.
This project was called the New
Jersey Networking Infrastructure in Education (NJNIE) project. In
setting the directions for NJNIE, CIESE staff (a group of former classroom
teachers and university scientists and experts in the use of technology in
education) asked themselves the question: “Why should teachers use the
Internet in the instruction of students?” As this question was
investigated, it became clear that most educators saw the Internet as one
gigantic library resource where students could conduct research and search
through endless volumes of information.
As we explored this question, we began to realize that other technologies and
school resources were already playing this “library research” role in most
schools. The question then became, why use a web site to do research when
students could use a CD-ROM, textbook, encyclopedia, or software package to
conduct the same investigation faster, cheaper and more effectively? It
soon became clear that although the Internet could be used as a pure research
tool, even more compelling applications of this unique technology could vastly
enrich the classroom environment.
These unique and compelling applications finally gave us an answer to the
critical question, “Why should teachers use the Internet in their classrooms?”
The Internet can provide invaluable resources which cannot be delivered using
other technologies, books, or other school resources. This fact IS the
compelling reason that should motivate the educational community to invest the
time and money required to integrate the Internet into schools through the
country. It is also the underlying theme throughout the Savvy Cyber
Teacher® training materials which assist teachers to use the Internet effectively
in the K-12 Classroom.
The four unique and compelling applications of the Internet in K-12
education which come from CIESE’s work with more than 3,000 teachers
from 700 schools in New Jersey are:
Use of the Internet as a Communications Tool: Using the Internet to communicate
with experts in various fields or other classrooms from around the world
via Internet-based Collaborative Projects.
Use of the Internet to collect Real Time Data/Information: Students now
have access to the same information which was accessible only by scientists
just a few years ago. The data ranges from real time weather satellite
images, to data from ships at sea, to hourly air quality readings to images
from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Use of the Internet to Publish students’ work: Teachers and parents already
publish students’ work on school walls, in school newspapers, on home
refrigerators, and at special events to motivate students and demonstrate that
their work is meaningful. They can now use the technology to take this
fantastic student motivator one step further and publish their work online where
the whole world can see it, comment on it and interact with the students about
it. (Detailed information about Internet safety for children is an
important theme throughout these materials.)
Use of the Internet to find Unique Sources of Information: This might be
a diary kept by an African-American slave which is only available on the
Internet or a web site where you can use your zip code to find out who
your Congress person is, how he or she voted and what the bills were about.