THE INTEGRATION OF MICROCOMPUTERS
A RESEARCH PROJECT SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF EDUCATION
Following is a description of the three phases of the research undertaken:
PHASE ONE: SURVEY BY QUESTIONNAIRE
To help determine the successes and difficulties other teachers in our local school division have had in integrating computer technology into their curricula, I prepared and administered an in-depth questionnaire. All teachers in the four Birdtail River #38 School Division high schools were surveyed - Birtle, Hamiota, Shoal Lake and Strathclair. Further, to obtain as wide a system response as possible, junior high teachers in the St. Lazare French-speaking school were also included. Of the 29 questionnaires distributed, 20 were completed (See Appendix 1).
The survey probed six main areas:
1. Personal use made of the computer by the teacher: extent of use; programs most used; computer-related training; computer-related experience; availability of computers; barriers to personal use; comfort level with computers.
2. Classroom use made of computer by the teacher: methods; programs most used; availability of computers; availability of programs.
3. A most-to-least ranking of barriers to the use of computers -- selecting from: class size; effective software; familiarity with software; availability of computers; availability of programs; time; timetable conflicts; budget; hardware incompatibility; space; exposure and comfort; down time -- concluding with a section requesting written comments.
4. A most-to-least ranking of needs priorization -- selecting from: training; time; software; hardware -- concluding with a section requesting written comments.
5. Assessment of computers as effective tools in the school system: yes/no; reasons for why/why not; most effective grade levels; appropriate uses.
6. Respondents' personal input: concerns and suggestions; fully-written remarks.
The results of the analysis of the questionnaire indicated a general dissatisfaction with the current limited use of computers in the curriculum. Furthermore, there was general agreement that more training, time, resources and direction should be provided to teachers to facilitate integration into their curricula. A more detailed analysis accompanies the presentation of the data in Appendix 1. However, for the purposes of this paper no greater inclusion in the text is necessary.
PHASE TWO: IN-SERVICE PRESENTATION
In Phase Two of my project, to address the teacher concerns which I interpreted from the Division Questionnaire replies (Appendix 1), I designed and executed an in-service session for 36 teachers of grades 7-12 throughout our Division. Since the two main concerns centered around teacher incompatibility with computers and inadequate expertise in integrating the technology into the existing curriculum, I tried to present solutions to both these dilemmas, in an integrated approach.
The presentation involved a one-hour audio-visual-based session followed by a "hands-on" and sharing experience. Instruction was expedited by a multitude of illustrative and procedural overhead transparencies and computer visuals that I developed for the microcomputer projector -- all of which were displayed on large wall screens during the workshop.
To augment and facilitate the presentation I also prepared a "take-away" package which contained a contents brochure (See Appendix 2), a 100-page handout booklet, along with a box of 11 double-sided diskettes for each of the 18 workshop computer stations.
The third part of the presentation included displays of different computer systems and their related peripherals (printers, scanners, mice, disk drives, and monitors), computer compatible musical instruments, wall and workstation posters, reference books and periodicals, teaching aids, and a selection of the computer programs which I have found to be of the most value in classroom instruction (See Appendix 2).
Topics included: introductory computer literacy, teaching procedures, keyboarding, programming, word processing tutorials and assignments, and cross-curriculum integration. A data base of computer software and reference materials available in the Division was also distributed (See Appendix: Electronic Section).
The materials used in this presentation are available from the author in the form of a package which may be used by interested educators for future in-services or for sharing-experiences.
The workshop participants had amazingly eclectic spheres of training, expertise, backgrounds, ages, interests, needs, prejudices and expectations. This overlap drove home an awareness of the gargantuan task that such a curriculum revamping entails. The experience proved to be an invaluable asset in the consolidating of my ideas and in the redefining of my thinking in preparation for phase three of the project -- the complete revamping of an entire grade 9 and 10 language arts curriculum into a completely computer-integrated programme.
PHASE THREE: INTEGRATION OF COMPUTERS INTO MY OWN CLASSROOM
After having assessed local procedures, concerns, needs and resources with the survey -- and having defined and tested my own practical knowledge through the experience of giving the workshop -- the next step I took toward the full integration of computers into my school curriculum was to create a wide variety of computer-based activities for the grade 9 (See Appendix 3) and grade 10 (See Appendix 4) English Language Arts courses. To facilitate this, I drew from many of the teaching materials I have created and stored on paper over the last three decades. I was able to organize the majority of the year's assignments and learning activities onto two computer disks per course (Sachs,1989; Van Buren,1988). Because our Division has adopted two computer systems (Apple II and IBM) I created these data disks for both systems (See Appendix: Electronic Section).
To make more efficient use of related audio-visual resources from my personal collection, I compiled them into a computer data base, complete with reference numbers, titles and related subject areas -- all of which could be easily searched and cross-referenced electronically. This data base contains approximately 25,000 reference materials -- feature films, short subjects, television shows, documentaries, computer programs (Apple, Commodore and IBM), record albums, compact discs and tapes of old radio shows (See Appendix: Electronic Section).
All of these materials are provided or catalogued in the Appendices and are available from the author in the form of a teaching package in hard copy or on floppy computer disks (3.5" or 5.25") in both IBM and Apple II formats. The format has been set up in such a way that all this information may be displayed via electronic bulletin board and could be distributed to interested teachers and students via modem.
The knowledge and experience gleaned from the Division computer usage survey and from my presentation of the Division teachers' in-service, coupled with the large number of language arts/computer-integrated resources and my classroom and life experiences, set the stage for the implementation of procedures to bring about the full integration of computers into my language arts program.
CONTENTS (QUICK LINKS)
Introduction: Abstract ~ Acknowledgements ~ Contents
PART I: Background to the Problem
PART II: Statement of the Problem
PART III: Key Question
PART IV: Method
PART V: Description of Procedures of
Integrating Computer Technologies
into the Language Arts Curriculum:
SCRIPT: Summary of Computer Integration Procedures:
Script for Our Video Documentary
PART VI: Conclusions and Recommendations
APPENDICES: Links To Our Related Websites