Thursday, September 13, 2012

Research Journal--school reform through networking in schools

Carlitz, R. and Zinga, M. (1997). Creating common knowledge: school networking in an urban setting. Internet Research, 7(4), 274-286. doi:

This article caught my attention because of its link between educational technology and school reform. It's a case study of a school networking program in Pittsburgh, and starts with a history of how computer networks were first introduced into schools. Although it's 15 years old, the ideas are still relevant today, especially in regards to technology and achievement. In a way, these advances were even more exciting and engaging in the 90s, when the type of electronic communication that we take for granted today was novel and unique. Students in K-12 environments were doing things like having international pen pals and completing joint projects with students in other states and countries. The project was collaborative and in the beginning, recruited interested teachers to grow the network. The project activities were focused on specific curriculum projects, and one of the goals was that the network would eventually become a standard part of work in the classroom. It also became apparent that school-wide and district-wide networking could assist with school reform efforts such as site-based management and restructuring.

Some of the types of projects that are listed in the article are certainly part of schools today, such as research projects or using the Internet for communication. Other projects are great ideas that I have still not seen implemented. The end of the article lists eight lessons learned, which are extremely insightful and are still relevant today. Some of the lessons learned are that change takes time, planning and infrastructure are needed, and teachers need support.

I was so fascinated by this article because I thought that it is still extremely applicable today, at least to the urban schools where I work or have worked. In a way, this is disappointing because it shows that we still have so much farther to go--if we're in the same boat that we were in 15 years ago (or similar), how will we ever move forward. Of course progress has been made in every school--there are eight computers (ten years old) with Internet access in the library--but there is still so much to be done before most schools catch up with the culture of First World countries and the ubiquity of technology everywhere but the educational system.

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