The Networked Classroom:

Lessons from the SITP Project in British Columbia

The Networked Classroom is a recent innovation in education and is rapidly becoming an important tool in K-12 classes. Computer-mediated communication is increasingly adopted by teachers and students in North America and other regions in the world. In British Columbia, Canada, dozens of schools have established links with schools elsewhere in the country or the world with which various learning projects were implemented.

In this presentation the Networked Classroom is discussed as implemented by the Southern Interior Telecommunications Project (SITP). This project was established in 1991 to provide computer-mediated communication resources to teachers and students in the southern region of British Columbia. Data were collected on how SITP teachers and students used new telecommunication technologies, their usage patterns, and the obstacles they experienced. Findings show that the primary use of telecommunications was to support peer communication and teacher professional development, and to enhance curriculum-based classroom activities; 10% of participants also indicated they used the technology to support administrative tasks. The most used online services were electronic mail, followed by computer conferencing, and databases. While the peak access time is at 3:00 pm, participants use the system 24 hours a day.

Teachers and students who provided data were positive about the Networked Classroom. They described how their learning activities were enhanced through the connectivity and group work with online partners. At the same time obstacles to implementing the Networked Classroom were also identified. Finally, some lessons learned from the SITP Project, both in regard to teaching and to professional development as well as administrative uses of the Networked Classroom were presented and discussed.

Lucio Teles
Program Director Centre for Distance Education Simon Fraser University