PCI-97: CyberESL and Beyond

Classroom Applications
Ron Corio

  1. Introduction: The Computer-connected Classroom In the computer-connected classroom, students and the teacher are connected with computer accounts on a computer network. This connection enables the class to employ the Internet tools that have been described earlier as learning tools. In this segment you will learn about ways to apply electronic mail, netnews, ftp, and gopher as learning tools in the classroom.

    Computer resources, hardware and software, are needed in order to use these Internet tools. Teachers are dependent on their educational institutions for these resources. The first step, then, is to determine what computer resources are available to you and your students. A visit with the computer systems administrator is the starting point to a computer-connected class.

    Tell the systems administrator what it is that you would like to do with computers in your classroom. You might begin by saying that you would like to connect your class on a computer network by giving each student a class or personal computer account. You and your students might want to do one or more of the following things: electronic mail, ftp, gopher, library searches, word processing, netnews. The systems administrator can tell you if this is possible and what steps to take to connect your class.

    You are halfway home in your goal to establish a computer- connected class, if you get positive answers to your requests. There is one more critical need you must fill--computer classrooms (labs). You and your students need to have convenient and timely access to terminals that are connected to the network. Lack of a sufficient number of computer labs and a scarcity of computer classrooms is a problem. You will be competing with other teachers who are looking for network access for their classes.

    Two types of network access are needed: classroom and open labs. Computer classrooms are needed in order to provide students with instructions in the various Internet activities they will be using, e.g. electronic mail, netnews, ftp, gopher, and World- Wide-Web. Computer classroom time is needed for doing writing workshops, reading and responding to email, and doing information retrieval projects. Likewise, students need to have access to open computer labs for assignments that are done outside of the classroom. The computer systems administrator can answer your questions about network access. If you have the hardware and software resources and the access to the network, you are ready for the computer-connected classroom.

  2. Electronic Mail (email)

    Classroom applications for email are limited only by the imagination of the teacher. Email requires writing, thus is an excellent tool for improving written communications. A description of some language classroom activities that use email follows.

    USENET, or NETNEWS, is a collection of discussion groups organized under a set of broad headings called "newsgroups." These newsgroups are presented in an orderly way through a menu system, e.g. a menu of classical music discussions, followed by a menu of pencil collecting discussions, followed by a menu of chemical engineering discussions, etc (Krol 127). Inside each newsgroup there are multiple discussions presented in the form of articles that have been posted by Internet users.
  4. Retrieval of Information

    In this section you will find an overview of Internet research tools. The possibility for classroom applications of these tools in limited only by the imagination of teachers to design learning tasks that involve research.

Works Cited

Krol, Ed. 1992. _The whole Internet: Users guide and catalog_. Sebastapol, CA: O'Reilly and Associates Inc.

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Ron Corio, rcorio@vcu.edu