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

Technology Infusion in A Chinese Middle School: A Comparative Perspective

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

Technology Infusion in A Chinese Middle School: A Comparative Perspective

Article excerpt

Learning about technology and about integrating it meaningfully into teaching and learning are daunting tasks. What models of professional development really work to help teachers with this challenge? How can teachers help themselves? How can teachers enlist the help of their students? In the United States, despite the recognized need for teachers to use and teach new technologies, a large percentage of teachers remain under-prepared to cope with technology in classrooms (Perischitte, Tharp and Caffarella 1999; ISTE 1999). Reengineering pedagogy represents a profound paradigm shift that is well advanced in U.S. economy and culture. While China started well behind American schools in access to and use of information technology, it is impressive how rapidly it has been able to mobilize and train teachers to infuse technology into their curricula.

The success of Chinese middle (secondary) schools(1) in preparing students for academic excellence in the university and life beyond is often discussed in the West. However, there has been little in-depth analysis of the comprehensive educational process and the continuous growth philosophy, along with the strategy of its curriculum, teachers and staff in the maintenance of students and the institution. More recently, middle schools have played a key role in infusing modern technology into Chinese education and industry. Computer education starts as part of the core curriculum at the middle school level. The content ranges from computer basics, operation and application, keyboarding, Chinese language processing and commonly used soft ware, to more complicated databases, programming languages, and computer impact on modern society (Lan 1997; Bao, Lan and Chen 1997). Accordingly, middle school teachers across subject areas are expected to reach a level of competence sufficient to incorporate technology into teaching and to reinforce student technology competence.

In this study, the authors report their investigation of one of the leading middle schools in one of China's most sophisticated cities, Shanghai. The authors, three of whom are currently professors in U.S. universities and one a senior educator in QiBao Middle School, are the product of such middle schools in Shanghai in the mid 60s and 70s. Through this study, the authors suggest relevant experiences and examples for schools in the United States.

QiBao Middle School

QiBao Middle School in Shanghai was founded in 1947. It was designated as one of Shanghai's key middle schools(2) in 1961. Today, there are 2,500 students enrolled in 50 classes ranging from the 7th to the 12th grades. Approximately 1,800 at QiBao are boarding students. Among 250 school employees, 70% (178) are teaching faculty. Eighty percent of the teachers have a four-year university degree; 10% have a graduate degree (all masters except one with a doctoral degree); and 5% have two-year degrees. Fifty-six percent of the teachers have worked in QiBao Middle for 20-30 years, about a third are new teachers, and some have worked in QiBao for over 40 years.

Technology infusion has been a high priority during the recent decade. The school has designated several areas to effectively utilize technology to meet the overall instructional goals:

* Strengthen the development and research of modern education technology through continuous exploration of new and more effective instruction and learning models;

* Enhance the application of modern education technology in the school;

* Enhance the application of multimedia and network technologies;

* Extend the use of technology to all teachers and staff; and

* Increase the use of the technology facilities.

Many activities are planned for each specific area. In this article, the authors discuss these activities as a comparative example vis a vis the American experience.

Technology Infrastructure

Currently, all of QiBao's instructional facilities are connected to two networks: an interactive closed-circuit video network and a campus computer instruction and management network connected to the Internet. …

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