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

Queen Anne's QACIN: A Successful Experiment in Educational Networking

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

Queen Anne's QACIN: A Successful Experiment in Educational Networking

Article excerpt

Queen Anne's QACIN: A Successful Experiment In Educational Networking

In late August 1985, students and teachers returning to Queen Anne's County (Maryland) High School from summer vacation could look forward to two things. One was the upcoming school year. The other was using a just-completed installation of 32 IBM PCjr's networked with a file server containing a single word processing program.

Three years after that start-up, the Queen Anne's County Instructional Network (QACIN) uses 146 computers and has grown into five networks running Novell Networking software. Four of the five networks are interconnected with an IBM Token Ring. Today, QACIN has software covering hundreds of topics--all ready for instant call-up.

Backed by such a capability and a number of specially-developed computerized functions, the school's instructional and administrative operations have reached new stages of modernization. QACIN's features have made it the object of numerous observation visits by domestic and foreigh educators and the subject of two widely-distributed documentary videotapes.

In the Spring of 1985, the Queen Anne's County board of education and four other Maryland school systems banded together with Maryland Instructional Television (MITV) and, in a joint venture with IBM, initiated the Maryland Educational Technology Network (METN). Its purpose: to study the possibilities of effectively networking computers in schools.

IBM donated 32 PCjr's, a file server, and network and instructional software to each of the five pilot school groups. MITV provided technical and inservice training assistance and facilitated gettin instructional software from third-party sources. Each participating school system arranged its own installation, acquired its own furniture, covered its staff training, and provided $11,000 to purchase additional software.

The site chosen for the Queen Anne's network was the county high school. It had an enrollment of 1,600 and offered a comprehensive curriculum of vocational, business, college preparatory and general courses. Approximately 60 percent of its graduates went on into advanced education (i.e., two- or four-year colleges, trade and technical schools, etc.).

Prior to the METN project, the high school had had some computer experience. In fact, there were 16 computers in each of two existing laboratories. These, however, were stand-alone, non-MS-DOS installations whose utility was limited to business education and computer science applications. (QACIN's current data bank holds supplemental materials for virtually every subject taught in the school, including programs using computers to create designs for graphic art and mechanical drawing.)

Setting the Goals

QACIN's prime mover was Superintendent of Schools John E. Miller. He and the staff determined that the computers' central purpose would be to support student instruction in every possible curriculum area. Furthermore, to effectively supplement instruction, the computers "would have to be brought to the students." In other words, the machines should not be concentrated in one spot but dispersed throughout the school.

Implementing the Plan

To get the project moving, a committee consisting of a coordinator, an assistant coordinator and 11 teachers was organized. The teacher's group included: a media specialist; a career counselor; two mathematics instructors; two English instructors; and one teacher each from science, business, social studies, special education and foreigh language areas. Committee meetings also were attended by the school principal, the board of education's director of curriculum and instruction and selected instructional supervisors. After receiving initial computer training, committee members planned computer integration into their specific curriculums and trained other departmental teachers in the new techniques. …

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