Multimedia Curriculum Development: A K-12 Campus Prepares for the Future

Article excerpt

Multimedia Curriculum Development: A K-12 Campus Prepares for the Future

Obviously, new technologies hold great promise as facilitators of personal growth and formal education.[1] This article describes the evolution of computer-based tools on the campus of a K-12 private school of 525 students in San Diego county.

You will read a story of how a group of parents took the school from the edge of non-existence to becoming one of the premiere sites in the area for multimedia curriculum development with Macintosh computers and interactive videodiscs. The process was a grassroots movement and shows just what schools can accomplish with local community support. Hard work and the generous gifts of parents and charitable foundations made it all happen.

A Brief History

After years of financial struggle, the Santa Fe Christian School (SFCS) was closed down in 1985. A group of parents soon reopened the school, however, and they decided to try some unique strategies to ensure its continuation. One tactic was to develop a high-profile approach to educational technology.

There were some Apple IIs on campus, but they were not integrated into the curriculum. One day in 1986 a board member donated three Macs, put them on a table in the lunch room and stepped back to see what would happen. Immediately, students discovered these machines and were soon engaged in a variety of games, graphics and desktop publishing projects. This led to a new school newspaper, a yearbook, a brochure for the school and automated statistics for its sports teams.

Both the school's staff and the students preferred the Mac's [then] distinctive "user-friendly" graphic interface over other systems. The Mac was chosen for administration and training tasks. By 1988 office personnel were using it to do a host of administrative functions. And last year SFCS offered a payroll-deduction plan for purchasing a computer; many teachers and support staff subscribed. The recent introduction of low-cost Macs has meant that more teachers are purchasing them for word processing, lesson preparation and test construction.

The Labs: Big Mac and Little Mac

The second phase of technological development at SFCS involved renovating one of the school buildings into a computer lab. Soon there were 24 Macintoshes networked to each other and to a laser printer in what became known as the Big Mac Lab. The instructor's computer system was connected to an LCD projection panel on an elevated overhead projector for group presentations. Programs also often include use of CD-ROM-based material from The Voyager Co. via a CD-ROM drive tied to the instructor's system.

SFCS's lab complex is a boon to an active-learner approach.

Beginning in the third grade, HyperCard and MacPaint are taught to all students by instructors Sue Pollard and Matt Evans. Word processing, desktop publishing and animation are added as students advance.

The journalism program is stationed in a smaller room adjacent to the Big Mac lab. Ten computers are in this Little Mac Lab and are dedicated to a student-produced newsletter, class meetings and faculty projects.

SFCS's lab complex is a boon to an active-learner approach as well as a real showcase for the school in terms of student and faculty recruitment, plus general public relations.

Administrative Applications

SFCS is a rustic campus on 17.5 acres with a beautiful ocean view and many unconnected buildings. A network of cable connects 30 remote sites with the laser printer. Office staff and faculty benefit immensly from this network in terms of word processing and printing tasks--only an occasional ditto-mastered message goes home to parents. Documents are consistently formatted and always sharp. Using a package called Flash, notes and data are ported from desk to desk. Although telephones are usually available, an interactive written dialogue can be carried on between persons at a variety of nodes using this software. …