Builds Online Educational Community
By Marylena Mantas
a result of a recommendation made in September of 2001 by the
Teaching and Learning in Cyberspace Taskforce, established by
the New York City Board of Education (BOE), the public school
system’s students, parents, and teachers will soon belong and
have access to an Online Educational Community.
unprecedented initiative will connect all of our students, teachers,
parents and administrators, to advanced Internet services anywhere,
any time,” said William C. Thompson, Jr., President of the Board
of Education, in a statement released recently. “It would fundamentally
transform the teaching and learning experience. Students will
enhance their learning abilities, teachers’ capacity to facilitate
learning styles will improve and there will be stronger ties among
all members of the Board’s community.”
Established in July of 1999, the Taskforce, chaired by Dr. Irving
S. Hamer Jr., has been working to integrate technology into instruction
and to find the means to provide equal access to the vast pool
of information made available these days through the internet
to the school system’s 1.1 million children and 80,000 teachers.
is not a divide of equipment,” said Hamer, while speaking to Education
Update on the question of the digital divide, “but a divide
of content…The question is how we give this information to everyone
in the city.”
Hamer and other members of the Board and Taskforce hope that the
educational portal will not only help alleviate the divide problem,
but will also “engage parents in their children’s education through
the use of technology, give teachers the tools to move their classrooms
into the 21st century, introduce students to active learning and
the vast instructional resources of the internet and involve the
larger community in the educational success of every child.”
According to Hamer, the Online Educational Community will have
two components: an educational zone and a commercial zone. The
latter zone will allow for the forging of partnerships with online
companies, advertising and e-commerce, which will turn generate
the funding necessary to support the project. The commercial zone
will be available to the adult users, while everyone will have
access to the educational zone.
only way this will work is to create a different funding model,”
said Hamer. “The commercial side of the portal for adults, if
properly managed, will help us pay for this.”
The educational zone will provide students and teachers with educational
resources to enhance teaching and learning, such as links to websites
of pedagogical nature and content. It will give parents access
to the same tools and up-to-date information related to the school
system. Also, the Online Community is expected to open the lines
of communication between the city’s communities and the educational
In addition, the website will help foster professional development
and alleviate some of the existing constraints related to the
process, such as cost and inability of teachers to participate
in professional development seminars and workshops due to lack
to time. The professional development project hopes to enhance
existing teaching practices and to support all teachers, particularly
new teachers in greater need of these resources. Classroom Content
was awarded the contract to build the site, currently under development,
which will give teachers access to professional development at
all times, while receiving continuing education credit. The site
is expected to be launched in September of 2002.
is a new way of thinking about how to teach and train supervisors
and administrators online,” said Hamer.
The BOE has selected two vendors, Accenture and KPMG, as finalists.
The vendor selected will build the portal Online Educational Community,
which will be available seven days a week and 24 hours a day.
The Taskforce hopes that the website will provide all BOE members
with an email address and access to the internet.
oxygen for the initiative is the pedagogical framework for teaching
and learning that is full of revolutionary potential,” said Hamer
in a recent presentation.#
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: email@example.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of
the publisher. © 2001.