Three case studies show that incorporating modern computing technology into the regular school curriculum can yield significant benefits
Students and teachers from schools in areas as diverse as Kansas, Los Angeles and Oregon grappled with real-world problems ranging from racism to the fine arts to water shortages. The reality-based class projects - enabled by donations of Pentium II processor-based technology from Intel Corporation - were demonstrated recently by three educators at the Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference.
Intel's education initiatives to bring technology into the classroom are in line with the Clinton Administration's national objectives to establish computer literacy as a basic education requirement and have every school and classroom linked to the Internet by the year 2000.
Dr Craig Barrett, Intel's president and chief executive officer, said: "We must put the best tools in the hands of our youth, arm them with the best education possible, and then challenge the next generation to continue the spirit of innovation and scientific discovery that has already achieved a better life for so many of us."
The goal of Intel's K-12 Education Program is to enhance maths and science education, increase the use of technology in schools and develop a future work force that reflects the diversity of our communities. Three teachers who received hardware and software donations through this program modified their curricula to integrate the technology into class projects. These educators have posted their lesson plans for other teachers to learn from at www.intel.com/education. They describe below how implementing technology as a tool to explore different cultures, social issues and arts impacted their students.
"Creating an environment that joins history, humanities, art, science and technology promotes a culture that raises students to a new level of commitment to education, learning and social responsibility," said Norm Conard, a social studies and technology teacher at Uniontown High School, Kansas.
Conard worked with students to produce eight video documentaries addressing social issues, such as civil rights, racism and discrimination, using Adobe Premier software and the Intel Create & Share Camera Pack.
One piece traced the great migration of African Americans to Chicago in the 1940s, while another student video explored the impact of the racial crisis precipitated by the integration of Little Rock Central High School in the 1957/58 school year. In a third project, two educators from rural schools brought students together over the Internet to discuss current discrimination and bias in rural America.
"These are the types of creative projects that change lives as our students reach out beyond the classroom to our local communities and around the globe," Conard said.
Conard's students also used video-conference calls to investigate other cultures, explore geography and discuss social issues with students throughout the US and all over the world. The result of these calls presented a "wonderful harmony of hands-on learning for all parties involved," Conard said.
An art teacher in Los Angeles assigned students to transform a static 2D surrealist landscape painting by Giorgio De Chirico into an animated 3D environment. Students created objects and hid them in the painting to surprise viewers as they explored the animated 3D version using Microsoft Softimage3D. For example, students created water fountains and other objects, which they hid in different planes that the viewer could only see by zooming around the corners of a building or virtually moving into the interior of the building.
Jane Porter-Jacobs, the art teacher at Milken Community High School in Los Angeles, said: "Using this technology gave the students an opportunity to explore architecture, space and scaling that they would never have had a chance to do otherwise. This project crossed over curriculum subject matters into geography, science and history as students explored why the artist used certain lighting and different tones in the original painting." Porter-Jacobs said that the school is planning to use this technology in science classes to allow students to graphically build atoms and experiment with other scientific projects.
Eighth-grade students in Oregon used technology to solve a fictional water shortage problem in a town by forecasting when the town's water supply would be depleted. Winnie Miller, an eighth-grade maths teacher in Lake Oswego, Oregon, presented her project at the National Education Conference.
"This [original maths] project became even more powerful than it has been in the past; its emphasis was no longer on just the mathematics behind the project but shifted to a social issues project. In my opinion, this provides purpose and connections to the real world for the mathematics we do in class," Miller said.
Students used Intel's Create & Share Camera Pack, an electronic spreadsheet, graphs and calculators to create formulas, and then used the Internet to research alternatives, consult experts and propose solutions.
"These three case studies have provided a rich source of ideas for educators interested in applying technology to their classroom instruction," said Lowell Milken, president of the Milken Family Foundation. "The benefits of the studies extend both to educators with well-developed technology programs as well as to computer novices who want to increase their technological proficiency."
Compiled by Ajith Ram
(c) 1999 Intel Corporation
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