Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Project CHILD: A New Twist on Integrated Learning Systems

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Project CHILD: A New Twist on Integrated Learning Systems

Article excerpt

Integrated learning systems (ILSs) are getting the attention of educational leaders and policy makers. They like the one-vendor, "turn-key" installation and promises of increased student test scores. They like the systems approach with a cohesive computer-base management system and self-paced, instructionally sequenced software. They like ILSs enough to invest nearly half a billion dollars annually.[7]

In a nutshell, an ILS provides networked courseware that prescribes lessons based on student performance and produces detailed reports on student progress. Traditionally the curricular emphasis has been on basic skills training, particular for at-risk Chapter 1 students.[3] Yet while many educators are rushing to embrace the ILS as a boon to a beleaguered public school system, skeptics have not been convinced. They question the high price tags and fear that the "pull-out" implementation of ILSs in lab settings prevents meaningful integration into the classroom curriculum.[2,5,6,7]

There is a yearning to be able to take advantage of the flexibility, creativity and more modest financial investment of independent software and equipment while at the same time taking advantage of the systems approach offered by an ILS. "Eventually, independent software and integrated systems might meet somewhere in the middle," predicted Andrew Trotter.[7]

*A System 'In the Middle'

Well, good news. Such a "system in the middle" already exists in over 25 elementary schools in Florida. It is called Project CHILD (Computers Helping Instruction and Learning Development). Project CHILD is a new twist on integrated learning systems. And the cost is a fraction of an ILS.

Project CHILD is a comprehensive research project designed to develop an innovative, computer-integrated, instructional program for the elementary school. It has been a five-year effort funded by grants totalling $1,130,000 from the Florida Department of Education with additional support from seven Florida school districts and over 15 business partners.

Project CHILD provides a unique synthesis of effective practices, curriculm realignment and a new organizational structure, all intended to move today's schools toward the 21st century. It is designed for grades K-5 and covers the subject areas of reading, language arts and mathematics; work is also now underway on a science component. Project CHILD provides the model, supporting materials, and integrated applications of technology to enable today's elementary school teachers to take their first steps on the bridge to the future.

*Goals and Objectives

The major goal of Project CHILD is to begin transforming elementary schools to meet the needs of the 21st century. Project CHILD seeks to:

* modify the school structure to create class-room conditions conductive for learning with technology;

* create cohesive units of work that foster strategies for thinking; and

* relign curriculm for reading, language arts and mathematics so as to cover legally mandated content while fully integrating computer technology into the curriculum.

Project CHILD also seeks to make a positive contribution to academic achievement and positively affect attitudes and behaviors of teachers and students.

*How the Program Works

The whole idea is to integrate instructional technology with regular classroom teaching. Project CHILD has 20 essential components. These components along with specific implementation guidelines are described in detail in the Project CHILD Teacher's Mannual. A three-day, video-based training program prepares teachers to implement the program. The training class is conducted by an experienced CHILD teacher trained by the project director.

Within this framework, teachers are encouraged to adapt Project CHILD to their teaching style and enhance it with their own creative energy and innovative ideas. …

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