Vol 6|No 7|April|1997
How can you tell if a school is ready for the Internet and other networked information? How much must be spent on staff development to provide readiness?
Walk through the school hallways at the end of the day. Look in each doorway. What do you see?
Landscape #1 - Sage
All seats and desks are lined up in rows facing the front of the room. The teacher's desk (or podium) is up front and dominant.
Count the number of rooms which fit this description.
Landscape #2 - Guide
Are some other rooms set up so that students will work in groups facing each other? Are there tables instead of desks? Is it difficult to identify the front of the room? Is it arranged to encourage dialogue and discussion between students?
Count the number of rooms which fit this description. Next compute the percentage of classrooms which fall into the second category where you cannot tell the front of the classroom.
Souhegan High in New Hampshire is an excellent example of a school which is Internet and Information ready. Walk through this high school built to support the learning strategies of the Coalition of Essential Schools and it is nearly impossible to identify the front of any classroom because the classrooms focus upon students as thinkers and workers.
One might assess the "Internet Readiness" or the "Information Readiness" of a school by determining the percentage of constructivist or student-centered classrooms with a major focus upon investigation, questioning and research.
|Percentage of Student-Centered||Less than 10%||20-35%||40-50%||80-90%|
|Internet Readiness||Low||Medium||High||Very High|
|Staff Development Expense||Budget at least 20 per cent of Hardware dollars||Budget at least 10 per cent of Hardware dollars||Budget at least 5 per cent of Hardware dollars||Budget at least 5 per cent of Hardware dollars|
Each of these four categories of readiness represent vastly different staff development challenges if the school expects to see a significant return on hardware investment. Without such staff development, there is a probability in low readiness schools that the computers may serve as screen savers rather than information ATMs.
Another way to assess readiness is to make use of Plugging In, the excellent technology planning document available from the North Central Educational Laboratory. Central to this document is the concept of Engaged Learning derived from the work of Barbara Means. Internet or Information Readiness would be high if the following elements of Engaged Learning are present and thriving:
There are several assessment pages contained within Plugging In which help a school to determine how far it has traveled and how much farther it has to go up the path toward a high level of engaged learning. Table I is excellent.
Another way to judge readiness is to determine how what percentage of a building's teachers report that they make frequent use of the kinds of learning strategies outlined by Marty and Jacqueline Brooks's book In Search of Understanding: the Case for Constructivist Classrooms. Alexandria: ASCD, 1993, pp. 103-117. Ask all teachers to note frequency on a form like that below derived from the Brooks list:
Credits: The background is from Jay Boersma.
Other drawings and graphics are by Jamie McKenzie.
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