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Cyberspace Curricula: A Global Perspective.

The four learning theories (general systems, communication, learning, and instruction) support cyberspace curricula at the primary educational level for global cyberspace participation. A literature and Internet review reveals that home computer usage has increased in Australia, their schools were book-based and their teachers are reluctant to use computers in their classrooms. In the USA, cyberspace curricula was cost effective, and in Russia students are taught to develop their own software. Several universities maintain websites on the Internet for information retrieval and to promote cyberspace curricula: University of California, Australian National University,University of Karlsruhe, Carnegie Mellon, University of Westminister, and Brock University.

We live in a global society during the Information Age. The computer allows us to access information globally. The Internet enables students to collaborate with persons around the world and access information on millions of computers. Schools, institutes, and universities are becoming electronically linked, providing supportive and parallel cyberspace curricula. Cyberspace curricula employs the regular usages of the computer for educational purposes. Global cyberspace curricula are being utilized by educators in countries around the world.

For cyberspace participation, student learning about cyberspace occurs through one of the four learning theories: general systems theory, communication theory, learning theory, or instructional theory. General System theorists believe a unit of interrelated and interacting components work together toward a common outcome. In the general system theory, a breakdown in the individual classroom or home creates breakdowns in all other systems, impacting the global system. According to the general system theorists, if the classroom or home cyberspace curricula are not successful, neither will be the global cyberspace curricula. The communication theorists focus on how information is communicated. A weak signal, little or no cyberspace curricula, in the classroom or at home would not even be heard in the global cyberspace curricula air waves. The learning theorists are divided between behavioral theorists such as Pavlov, Skinner, and Thorndike and cognitive learning theorists such as Schuell, Bartlett, Tolman, and Gagne. Behavioral theorists believe learning occurs when learners elicit an appropriate response to a particular stimulus. Little or no cyberspace curricula would result in minimal cyberspace responses. Cognitive theorists focus on the cognitive structures along with the processes which mediate between the instructional stimuli and a learner's responses. The cognitive theorists would concur that classroom or home cyberspace curricula would be the cognitive structural foundation to global cyberspace curricula with a faulty foundation (classroom/home) causing the edifice (global) to weaken, crack, and crumble, resulting in reconstruction. Instructional theorist such as Brunner, Gagne, and Dick attempt to relate specific events to learning processes and learning outcomes. Poor classroom/home cyberspace instruction results in inadequate global cyberspace curricula participation. Each of the four learning theories adheres to the importance of cyberspace curricula at the primary educational level for global cyberspace participation.

Authors such as Glen and Neil Russell (1997); Eddy, Burnett, Spaulding, and Murphy (1997); and Schellenberger, Mechitov, and Olson (1996), have reported on different aspects of cyberspace curricula from countries around the globe. In Australia, the Russells studied imperatives in Australian cyberspace curricula. One of the imperatives that they reported was that the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1994 stated that over 23% of all Australian residents used computers regularly in their households. This percentage was expected to increase dramatically. Also, the number of interconnected computers (5,000,000 computers were linked to 50,000,000 computers) were reported to have increased by 400%. (1997, p. 585) Students were reported to have readily adopted computer usages to complete their homework. Because the students were readily using the computer for information acquisition at home, students were reported to be purchasing and borrowing fewer books. However, Australian schools were reported to be book-based, not providing the students with cyberspace curricula. Their teachers were reported to have little or no computer training and were reluctant to use the computer within their classrooms. The Russells believe that computers are essential in schools to help students develop skills on which they can build upon later. They stated that students were more motivated toward their education when they used computers.

Eddy, et al. of Texas, USA have authored articles regarding technology assisted education. One of the technology assisted educational models they study is the Computer Model. (1997) These authors listed three advantages to traditional classroom instruction when cyberspace curricula are employed in schools: cost effectiveness from overheads (classroom heating, air conditioning, electricity, etc.) and faculty salaries may be reduced; the computer can be used in distance education, where student's learning occurs at a different location than where the instruction originates, making education more convenient for the student; and the instructor's topic can be taught to a larger audience. The cyberspace curricula at Moscow S&A University were reported by Schellengberger, et al. to be an eight course, eighteen semester hour program in Computer Information Systems (CIS). The CIS program's board of advisors merged a South Carolina, USA business school's cyberspace curricula with the Data Processing Management Association (DPMA) model curricula. These newly formed courses include "prebusinesss core concentration and general business requirements." (1996, p.300) So that students will be able to compete in the world computer market, the course content requires that the students learn to develop their own software.

In addition to authors reporting about global cyberspace issues, global cyberspace curricula participation includes universities from around the world maintaining websites on the Internet for information retrieval. The University of California's website contains information about the "National Education Supercomputer Program" (NESP) located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The computer used for this program is a powerful Cray YMP similar to the computers used by scientists. There are four listed goals of the NESP:

* Performing large-scale computer simulations and modeling to enhance classroom science and mathematics instruction and demonstrating the importance of supercomputers in scientific research.

* Supplying a reliable, progressive computing environment that supports efficient, wide-range network connectivity.

* Exploring and developing projects that foster interdisciplinary education.

* Providing a mechanism to facilitate communication between teachers throughout the country and encouraging sharing curriculum and ideas among teachers, students, and scientists. (9/30/97, p. 1)

Workshops are held at LLNL for teachers from across the nation. Distant learning opportunities are also offered to computer literate teachers and students. Some of these opportunities include running NES simulations and models through network or by modem access. There were also five NESP projects highlighted on this website: 1) Ray Tracing--an advanced graphics technique for building raster three-dimensional images by modeling the interaction of light and matter; 2) Climate Modeling--analyzing output from computer simulations of global climate; 3) L-Systems (Fractal Generation)--provides theoretical framework for studying the development of plants; 4) Molecular Modeling--the building of molecules using three-dimensional graphics software on a microcomputer; and 5) Finite Element Analysis--the building of bridges and other structures using three-dimensional graphics software. (9/30/97, p.4) For students, the LLNL sponsors a "Superkids" program in which accelerated students from around the world are brought to LLNL for a two-week, hands-on program to learn from experts of numerous disciplines: aerodynamics, climate, chemistry, physics, fusion energy, engineering, robotics, graphics, and computer modeling.

In Australia, the Australian National University's website offers information about their "Computational Science and Engineering Education Program." This program is toted as an innovative approach to science and engineer education "which recognises the position of computer modelling and experimentation as a "third way" of working which complements the traditional experimental and theoretical approaches to knowledge acquisition." (9/30/97, p. 1) The new program, Computational Science and Engineering, is a compilation of the disciplines from several industry professionals, researchers, and educators: numerical analysis, computer science, and engineering/science specialties. The courses offered in this program are computational engineering, computational science and engineering, computational methods for gas dynamics, computational physics, and computer graphics. There are six pedagogical aims of this program listed on their objectives website:

* To expose students to state-of-the-art computing resources in the context of "real life" problem-solving exercises.

* To encourage an experimental approach to the use of computing resources including an appreciation of their inherent limitations; error analysis; dimensional analysis; comparison with reduced models etc.

* To use this experimental approach as part of the optimization of the engineering design process.

* To develop skills in the visualization, analysis and presentation of data and in the writing of reports.

* Through the use of reduced models, to emphasize and review the basic physical, mathematical and numerical principles behind the computer simulation packages.

* To inculcate an enthusiasm for the use of computational science and engineering as part of a future professional career. (9/30/97, p. 1)

The University of Karlsruhe in Germany and the Carnegie Mellon University in Pa, USA are utilizing parallel cyberspace curricula. The two universities are jointly developing "user interfaces that improve human-machine and human-to-human communication" (9/28/97, p. 1) in their interconnected Interactive Systems Labs. Two of their projects are the JANUS project, a speech-to-speech translation system, and the INTERACT project, a multimodal interface. One of their websites lists their numerous Multimodal Interfaces publications. Information on how to obtain copies of these publications is contained on their publication website. (9/28/97, p. 1) Another form of information retrieval is offered by the University of Westminister in England. Via the Internet, one can send for a university course catalog. In this catalog, the University of Westminister's School of Computer Science provides information for persons interested in attaining a computer science education at their school. The university computer science program is two-fold. The program is geared for students who desire a "general computer background" and for students who desire a computer background "directed toward commercial business environments." (9/28/97) The module or course requirements for this program are outlined in this catalog as are the student requirements that are needed for acceptance into their program. One can compare this program to other computer science programs offered at other universities located around the world.

Lastly, Dr. Jim Kerr, associate professor, at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada maintains fourteen websites on the Internet. (9/28/97) The first, lists sites that he promotes will assist educators to enhance their curriculum: Brock's Home Page, NEWS, Pre-Service Course, Ministry of Education and Training Documents, Search Engines, Software, Additional Qualifications-CITC, Lesson Plans, CSSE "97, Sample Lesson Plan, Reference Sites, Current Research/TIPP Project, and Course Evaluation. The second website contains several listings with categorical headings concerning Brock University. Dr. Kerr's third website is entitled, "Find It Here." This website is a listing of modes for Internet information retrieval. "Lesson Plans and Ideas Reference Sites" is the title of Dr. Kerr fourth website. This three page extensive listing contains lesson plans for K-12, Kidlink, environmental education, and the National School Network to cite just a few. Some of the references listed are John Muir Exhibit, the Nine Planets, the Explorer Database, and PeachNet. The fifth website is a four page reference site. Some of the sites listed are Education Center, Global Schoolhouse Project, Global SchoolNet Foundation, Medialink, and Classroom Connect. The sixth website, Newspapers and News Services," lists news publications from around the world. The seventh website lists various software programs and this website is appropriately entitled, "Software." The "Technology Incentive Partnership Program" (TIPP) is the project contained on Dr. Kerr's 21 page website. There were six objectives to this project:

* To establish exemplary models for teachers pre-service and in-service training using information technology delivery systems.

* To use various forms of information technology to help deliver pre-service and in-service training for teachers.

* To develop exemplary teacher practice in the effective use of information technology in the classroom.

* To develop instructional practices which are based on the capability of technology to support and enhance student learning, assessment evaluation techniques and outcome tracking.

* To minimize geographic and economic barriers for long term teacher development programs in the areas of pre-service training, redefining the role of the associate teachers and extending throughout the continuous development of teachers in practice.

* To strengthen the foundation for community education partnerships. (9/30/ 97)

Ten ways to turn the neophyte, newcomer, off and the instrument used to survey the educators for the TIPP project was also included on this website. The next website, "Research and Technology Incentive Partnership Program" entitled this 26 reference listing. The subsequent website, "Pre-Service Course Page" outlines what appears to be a computer course offered to educators at two Canadian schools. The following website is almost a replication of the preservice Course Page." However, it is entitled, "Additional Qualifications (CITC) Page." The 12th website contains a sample lesson plan format as well as a completed art class lesson plan. The 13th website is used for the Faculty of Education's Automated Course Evaluation. Dr. Kerr's final website is a 14 page conglomerate of information. A few of the categorical headings on these pages are "Facts and Figures on Education," "New Standard Report Cards For Students," "Testing, Testing", "Return to 3Rs Starts This Fall," and "Plugged in for Success." It should be noted that not only does Dr. Jim Kerr have extensive informational websites, his homepage is animated. The globe on his homepage revolves and the mailbox beneath the exclamatory statement, "Comments are welcome!," opens and a moth flutters out.

Global cyberspace curricula have many different forms. Authors have reported on cyberspace curricula from various countries. Some of the reported cyberspace issues are that computer usage has increased dramatically in Australia. The "Computer Model" was reported to be cost effective for educational purposes. At Moscow S & A University, the Computer Information Systems Program has been reconfigured and the students were reported to be taught to develop their own software so that they would be able to compete in the world market. Several universities such as the University of California, Australian National University, University of Karlsruhe, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Westminister, and Brock University are using cyberspace, specifically via the Internet, for global cyberspace informational purposes and to promote their cyberspace programming. For continual global cyberspace curricula participation, it is imperative that cyberspace curricula be employed at the primary educational level. Since the four learning theories adhere to the importance of cyberspace curricula at the primary educational level for global cyberspace curricula participation, those educators not including a cyberspace component into their discipline are engineering obsolescence for both their students and for themselves.


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Camilia Anne Czubaj, Educational Specialist, Waterford School District, Waterford, MI.

Correspondence concerning this article shoul be addressed to Ms. Camilia Anne Czubaj, Educational Specialist, Waterford School District, 6020 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford, MI 48327.
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Author:Czubaj, Camilia Anne
Publication:Journal of Instructional Psychology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2000
Next Article:The Strategic Spelling Skills of Students with Learning Disabilities: The Results of Two Studies.

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