Ph.D Thesis


Ph.D StudentShmuel Arnon
SubjectRegional Knowledge-Building ICT Education Community
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Full Professors Hazzan Orit


Abstract

Since the 1999 school year, a program called Haifa-Net has been in place in schools throughout the city of Haifa. In the framework of the program, some 60 school websites and some 150 ICT[1] learning environments were constructed.


The main thesis offered by this study, is that a regional ICT knowledge-building community, that includes dozens of schools, can be established through cooperative work which develops ICT learning products using available means that exists in every school in every region.

The research method used was a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The study was an action research.

The present study reveals that the community's three most prominent values are: knowledge construction, cooperative work, and dissemination of knowledge.

Many difficulties arose in the course of constructing school websites, among them we mention here: placing nearly the entire burden on a single person in the school; lack of reward for the effort invested; and lack of willingness on the part of teachers to incorporate innovative teaching methods and to develop learning materials.

The study revealed that the school ICT coordinators and guides were central and dominant figures in the website construction process.

Some significant changes took place in the schools as a result of constructing school websites. Such changes include diversification of learning methods, reinforcement of teamwork and promotion of ICT skills.

Most of the school websites and learning environments are used by pupils for learning purposes and that the extent to which most websites are used is high.

The utilization method of the learning materials was investigated using three case studies. The main aspects common to the finding are: self-development of learning materials by pupils and teachers using available resources that exist at school; the materials developed are relevant, needed and used by the schools; cooperative teamwork; inquiry learning; and self-oriented independent learners and persistence.

A process for the assessment of school websites and ICT learning environments was formulated. The categories defined were: website planning, technical aspects, external appearance, proofreading and editing, updating of site, maintaining contact, school administration, cooperations, academic content, informatics and internet ethics, and learning methods. Feedback, which included detailed findings, was given to the school teams so that they could improve their products. The research findings show that school website ratings one year after receiving the feedback improved by 12%, and ratings for "new" learning environments developed by the schools improved by an average of 11%.

[1] ICT - Information and Communication Technology