Proposal for the Development of a Distance Program
by Eileen Backofen
Part 1 - Rationale
Tools and Impact of Information Technology
Several schools throughout the state report interest in this course as an IB elective. However, the small number of potential students at each school limits the economic feasibility of the course. Access to qualified instructors is also difficult. Sharing the cost and expertise of one instructor would eliminate this problem. Furthermore, each IB high school in Virginia currently has at least a small number of current generation computers installed for research, student open access and other technology courses. Delivering this program through distance education technology to geographically dispersed students is a perfect example of the title of this course in action - Information Technology in a Global Society.
Part II - Technologies for Delivery
Special facilities include a current generation computer for each student enrolled, equipped with a reliable Internet connection using a current version of Netscape or Internet Explorer. The hardware must be maintained by the receiving school with required software installed and configured. One laser printer and scanner are also necessary. A digital camera is optional. All students will need an email account which can be provided either by their home school or through a free web based service. Access to a VCR will be necessary to view videotapes.
The IB coordinator at each school will serve as a contact person for the teacher and will also be responsible for reporting any local hardware or software problems to the on site technology staff. The ITGS web site will reside on the web server of the originating school. The technology staff at that site is already responsible for the maintenance of that equipment so this will not represent an increased cost.
Students enrolled in the IB program have demonstrated a willingness to undertake a rigorous course of study and the maturity to meet pre-set standards and deadlines. Therefore, an on site facilitator need not be employed to monitor the students' daily class activities. The IB coordinator will handle the logistics as described throughout this proposal as part of his/her job description.
Part III - Instructional Strategies and Assessment
The nature of this course lends itself to a distance delivery system although some may question its appropriateness at the high school level. However, the current tech savvy generation of students is quite capable of assimilating presentations done on-line with the videotape library providing a low-tech safety net. These students are also used to visiting "chat rooms". This course will build on that predisposition to develop on-line discussions of academic significance.
The instructor will assign activities (10-50 points each) designed to show mastery of each tool as it is introduced. Eight monthly issue papers (100 points each) will be assigned with the best four papers being added to the student's official portfolio as described below. Activities and papers will be submitted to the instructor as email attachments. Tests following each major topic (100 points each) will be taken on line and consist of both multiple choice and short answer responses. The final project as described below will earn a maximum of 200 points.
A major strength of the IB program is the standardization of assessment worldwide. Thus, the students' work will be assessed by the classroom teacher as well as an IB examiner and judged according to extremely detailed rubrics prescribed by the organization.
Students will create a portfolio consisting of four 700-1000 word "issue papers" chosen from topics in the following areas: Abuse/Security/Crime, The Global Society, The Work Place, Privacy, Leisure, Home and Travel, Education, Networks/Communications. Students will also produce a final project that involves the integration of at least three IT tools included in the course content. The structure of the project is strictly prescribed by the IB organization. Specifically, the project must include the 'end product' itself, a separate report (2000-2500 words) that summarizes the student's processes in the implementation of the project and a log book which is an informal, written chronological record of the development of the product. The portfolio and project are evaluated by the classroom teacher and submitted to the IB organization for review.
The IB ITGS course officially ends with an examination given in mid May on the same day worldwide. This will not be done on-line. In the IB tradition the exam will be administered by a teacher in another discipline. It consists of two parts. Part 1 (1 hour) contains 40 multiple-choice questions covering the content of the course syllabus. Part 2 (2 hours) requires two extended response essay questions involving analysis, evaluation and exploration. These are chosen from four possibilities. In addition students must answer one compulsory question involving a series of short answer responses where analyses and inferences must be made from a set of data and text. This examination will be graded by an off site IB examiner.
Therefore, the student's grade for high school credit will be based on the total points earned in the instructor's evaluation. IB credit will be granted based on the examiners grading of the IB examination and evaluation of the portfolio and project.
These traditional methods of assessment transfer well to a DL environment. However, if the IB coordinator at the home school believes it necessary, a paraprofessional proctor can be assigned to monitor the tests given throughout the course.
Part IV - Student support mechanisms
Before a school is accepted for participation in this distance education program, the IB coordinator will be provided a list of necessary software required by the curriculum. Since the titles most needed in this course are standard in instructional technology (MS Office, Pagemaker, Hyperstudio, Paint Shop Pro) this should not present a problem for the receiving IB school.
Prior to the beginning of the fall semester, each IB coordinator will receive by mail a packet of information for each student including a welcome and introduction from the instructor, the web address of the ITGS web site and basic navigation instructions. A response form and survey will be provided, to be returned with basic demographic and background information and the student's email address. Directions for obtaining a web based email account will be included in case the student does not have one already.
The prerequisite technology skills necessary for enrollment in this course are keyboarding skills and experience using a graphical user interface (GUI). Any operating system supported in the receiving school is acceptable. I expect that 11th and 12th grade IB students greatly exceed these prerequisites.
Regular feedback is very important in this environment. Teacher comments on each activity and issue paper will be returned to the student by email. Students will be allowed to revise and resubmit the paper before inclusion in the IB portfolio.
The primary external resources needed by this course are specific software tools to fulfill the course content. IB does not specify platform or required titles. By relying on standard software most IB schools will not have to purchase anything out of the ordinary. Software tutorials will be available on line. Videotapes describing use of the software will be purchased by the receiving school.
Part V - Evaluation Plan