Chapter 1

Overview of Internship Report



Background to the Internship

With the wide-spread use of computer technology in the world today and its proliferation in industry particularly, one can understand the importance placed on technological skills. Most educators have come to recognize both the value of computer skills for their students and the potential that this technology has for delivering and extending the curriculum and their professional practice. The need for curricular integration of technology in the Newfound- land Education system has been documented over the years, achieving prominence in the present milieu of educational reform. In 1979, Crocker and Riggs called attention to the need for Technology Education as a component of curriculum: Each child should understand the function of technology in modern society .... Each child should acquire a basic knowledge of the major areas of technology and their impact on his or her life ... nothing in the existing curriculum deals with the technology .... A new curriculum approach is therefore needed .... (Crocker & Riggs, 1979) In 1992, Change and Challenge, a provincial government document, called for the following actions: Review and update course curricula at all levels ... to ensure that courses continue to be relevant to the changing needs of society and the economy by introducing new programs which focus on technology-based education ... by expanding the provision and use of computers and computer-based technologies within the school system and developing a comprehensive information technology plan for the Department of Education and the school system ... (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1992). The government document, Adjusting the Course: Part II, provided a rationale for the needed educational changes that will foster essential technical skills: Much of this change is being driven by technological advancement. One only has to think only of the impact of the microcomputer, and the advances in communications technology and automation to illustrate the pace of change over the past decade or so. There is every indication that this pace is increasing. ...Today's generation of workers has had to absorb the impact of the microcomputer, and the fundamental restructuring of the labour force due to automation and global competition. The changes in store for the next generation are no less profound and unpredictable. (Department of Education and Training, 1994a) Finally, the TILE document, Technology in Learning Environments - Enabling Tomorrow's Learners Today (Department of Education and Training, 1994b) provided a vision for technological change. This document was the product of a comprehensive and strategic planning process and called for "integration of technology into and across the curriculum"(p.iii). Focusing on the major areas of curriculum development, curriculum implementation/delivery and learning resource management, TILE sought to provide a "clear statement of direction for the appropriate use of technology" in the school system and a "detailed series of projects, evaluations and pilots" for the integration of technology. It was a philosophical and systemic shift in thinking and approach to technology in education. Using a strategic planning process, the TILE initiative delivered an analysis and summary of where the education system might evolve with regard to the integration of technology in the curriculum. It described the current levels of integration and mapped out the direction for future integration, curriculum development and professional development. It proposed a series of development strategies which broke down the overall goal of technology integration into seven areas: Policy Changes, Educational Support, Professional Development, Enabling Technologies, Technology Integration, Curriculum Management, and Curriculum Technology Infrastructure. It was believed that these areas would facilitate an environment that could foster essential technological literacy while connecting students in a network of learning. In short, it was a view that projected an education system that could prepare its students with the skills necessary to contribute meaningfully to society and to engage in lifelong learning. The commitment to furthering the technological skills of our students is evidenced by the Canada/Newfoundland Cooperation Agreement on Human Resource Development (HRD). This joint federal / provincial initiative promoted innovative and creative activities in the human resource development field. Signed in January 1993, the HRD Agreement was developed to build "on the principle that economic development depends upon building excellence in people" (Johnson & Johnson, 1994). This five year, $42.9 million federal-provincial agreement has been a catalyst for long-term change in Newfoundland. It sought collaboration with and strives to foster cooperative links between school boards, community colleges, business, labour and community organizations to initiate improvements. The HRD Agreement has set several goals. They were: 1. improvement of achievement and participation in science, technology, and mathematics; 2. improvement of written and verbal communication skills; 3. assistance for educational and training institutions in responding to the needs of small business, and 4. encouragement of a cooperative, working relationship between education, business and industry. (Johnson & Johnson, 1994) Four main programs were developed to further the economic and human resource development goals of the province. One of the focuses of the first program, Learning and Enterprise Culture, was to enhance school improvement efforts. Many improvement efforts today centre on the integration of technology in the school. The benefits of the HRD agreement have been chronicled by Prospects, a publication funded by this government initiative. This is a journal that is: specifically designed to address issues in human resource development. This publication is a response to a need to inform individuals involved in education, business, labour and government of innovative initiatives taking place in the field of human resource development within this province. (Johnson & Johnson, 1994) Since its first issue, Prospects has reported the many school improvement efforts made possible by the HRD Agreement. The funding allocated under this agreement has enabled improvement initiatives that have focused on various areas of technology in education. These have promoted technological support, expansion and innovation in provincial schools. Yet, in spite of the importance placed on technological literacy and government efforts to foster it, there are forces that constrain educators. More recently, down-sizing and restricted resources have resulted in a slowing down of the implementation of technology in education. With cuts to professional development programs, the majority of this province's teachers have not had access to the training necessary to teach with technology. Also, with a significant proportion of the teaching force approaching retirement age, there is questionable inclination among older teachers toward acquiring such training. As well, many of the new teachers emerging from pre-service teacher education programs do not have the necessary course work in the curricular uses of technology as such training has not been required for graduation. Together these forces act in opposition to a systemic integration of technology in schools.


Educational Technology in Britain

Like Newfoundland, education in Britain today is at the forefront of media attention and political debate. The administration of its education system and the legal framework that guides the system has recently seen many fundamental changes that continue to unfold. In this milieu, Information Technology (IT) has been developed as both an integrated and discrete subject area that has achieved a place of importance within the country's curriculum. Information Technology has emerged from the integration of previously separate technologies. IT refers to areas such as advanced micro-electronics, software technology, advanced information processing, office systems, data communications and computer aided manufacturing and computer-aided education (University of Pretoria, South Africa, School for Information Technology, 1997). Research has shown the many benefits inherent in the curricular use of IT. Studies by Britain's National Council for Educational Technology (NCET, 1995) has indicated that IT can have many positive effects on teaching and learning. For pupils there are frequently gains in motivation, presentation, questioning skills, problem solving, information handling, and techniques of modelling. Teachers often find that (among many other gains) using IT can: (NCET, 1995) Given the educational opportunities offered by IT, it would be remiss of educators not to explore the ways in which IT may be infused into the curriculum. The importance placed upon IT in Britain is indicated by the legal requirements that mandate its integration into each subject of the National Curriculum and by the ongoing research and analysis of implementation and delivery methods.


Rationale for the Internship

Conducted in Britain's educational environment of recent change and reform, this internship provided an opportunity to compare similarities that existed between two different systems of education. Using British government documents, interviews with teachers in the Essex County School System and observations of classroom and teacher-planning practice, a national picture of British education was acquired. It was a picture of an education system that sought to reform itself, a curriculum that struggled to define itself and the curricular area of IT that hoped to instill its students with the technological skills that were viewed as essential in the workplace - skills that would propel the nation's industry to a competitive international level. The two main objectives for this internship were: It was hoped that the experience in Britain could provoke a renewed look at the reform efforts for technological integration in Newfoundland and Labrador. St. John's Comprehensive School in Epping afforded its own unique perspective for the study of IT within the curriculum and supports the rationale for this internship. The on-site supervisor for the internship, Mr. Edward Barnes, had only just recently been appointed head of the newly formed IT department, a department that had just distinguished itself from the umbrella curricular area of Technology Education. Though he would only officially take over his post in September of 1996, it became necessary at the end of the '95 -'96 school year for Barnes to prepare and organize his department to offer new courses in Information Technology and to facilitate cross-curricular integration of IT. This offered the intern the experience of seeing what is involved in organizing an IT department "from scratch":

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