Cyber Project


Fall '95
"Summary & Planing"
Submitted by
Harold Johnson
1/16/96
Summary:
The "Cyber Project" was designed to provide an electronic forum through which preservice and existing teachers of deaf/hard-of-hearing (d/hh) students could exchange information and collaborate in the design and provision of instructional activities. The Project began in October of '95 with Cathy Brandt and I pairing seven students, from four universities, with seven teachers. Teachers and students were asked to exchange introductory messages with one another and to share the day-to-day realities of teaching, or of being a university student. Teachers were asked to identify areas in which they would like additional information and students were asked to serve as "information gophers" for their teachers. Teachers and students were also asked to design and implement instructional enrichment activities for their d/hh children and to share their resulting activities and information with other colleagues via postings to the EDUDEAF listserv group. A time line for each of the activities was established and the Project was begun.
Analysis of the Cyber Project activities indicates that the Project experienced only limited success. Only one team (i.e., Pongor & Sommers) posted a message to the EDUDEAF listserv. Review of the 84 messages I sent/received from Project participants indicated that:
  1. two teams (i.e., Ruberl & McBee and Storm & Souza) did not appear to make initial contact with one another;
  2. three students (i.e., Dukes, Kearsey and Kearsey) did not have sufficient time to carry out the expected activities;
  3. one student (i.e., Shanafelt) did exchange information with her teacher (i.e., Stifter), but never posted a summary of their activities to the EDUDEAF listserv;
  4. one team (i.e., Pongor & Sommers) did carryout most of the suggested Cyber Project activities and did post messages to the EDUDEAF listserv.
Analysis of Project messages revealed a number of additional points, i.e.:
  1. five of the seven teachers who began with the Project (i.e., Snodgrass, Carlson, Manross, Stifter & Pongor) expressed support for the Project and a desire to continue to be involved;
  2. the teachers also noted that:
    • the Project activities and time line were fine (Snodgrass);
    • students need more time to participate within the Project (Snodgrass);
    • some students did not appear to have a good understanding of their role with the Project and questioned how the students were selected to participate within the Project (Snodgrass & Carlson);
    • perhaps requiring student participation as part of a class would improve their participation (Manross);
    • perhaps requiring specific activities, due dates and daily contacts would improve the overall Project (Pongor).
  3. one student (i.e., Sommers) noted that:
    • more time was needed to do the Project well;
    • there is a need for specific activities and due dates;
    • there are some terrific teachers on the Net, from whom we can all learn a great deal;
    • helping teachers find what they want/need is a good service that students can/should provide.
While summary Project recommendations were not received from the participating university professors (i.e., Jensen, Antia & Welch), the Project Co-Director (i.e., Cathy Brandt) did suggest the following:
  1. more guidance and "due dates" may be beneficial to both teachers and students;
  2. the Project should continue to focus upon providing support to teachers and learning opportunities to students;
  3. possible activities and time line would be:
    • Week 1: students and teachers exchange greetings;
    • Week 2: students locate "x" number of resources for teacher and shares them on EDUDEAF;
    • Week 3: student develops a lesson plan or activity for their teacher and shares it on EDUDEAF:
    • Week 4: teacher sends writing sample to student and ask them to carry out an analysis;
    • Week 5: teacher ask student to find something on the Net
    • Week 6-8: left open to the students and teachers, with assistance from Project Co-Directors
In the final analysis, it would appear that while the Project has potential, substantial modifications are needed to make it a success.

Planning:

The Spring semester is upon us. As university professors and classroom teachers, we have groups of students to teach and many needs to meet. The question becomes, how can we utilize the technological opportunities of the Net to both enhance the preparation of new teachers and support the work of existing teachers? In light of the observations and suggestions I have summarized in this document, I would suggest the following:
  1. the Cyber Project should be continued;
  2. university students that participate in the Project should do so as part of a course requirement;
  3. Project activities should be reconfigured and simplified, e.g.,
    • Activity #1: univ. stu. and teacher exchange introductory info. (i.e., name and current activities);
    • Activity #2: teacher identifies 2-3 topics on which they would like additional information;
    • Activity #3: univ. stu. research identified topics and share the resulting information with their teacher;
    • Activity #4: univ. stu. and teacher identify, design, implement and evaluate an instructional activity for the teacher's students;
    • Activity #5: univ. stu. and their teacher identify if/how the Project has been of benefit and if/how it should be continued
  4. univ. stu. are responsible for posting summary messages, following the completion of each activity, to the EDUDEAF listserv (Note: these messages should include the words "Cyber Project" in the "subject" line);
  5. univ. stu. professors are responsible for monitoring and encouraging the Project activities of their students;
  6. all Cyber Project participants must:
    • subscribe to the EDUDEAF listserv;
    • be competent in the use of e-mail;
    • have consistent access to Net linked computers;
    • agree to have at least weekly e-mail contact with their assigned partner;
    • agree to complete the Project's five activities by May 3, 1996;
  7. Cyber Project participants will be selected on a "first come, first serve" basis;
  8. teachers who wish to participate within the Project should contact Cathy Brandt;
  9. university professors who would like one or more of their students to participate with the Project should contact Harold Johnson;
  10. Cathy Brandt and Harold Johnson will:
    • "pair" the Project participants;
    • monitor overall Project activities;
    • summarize and share Project information;
Conclusion:
I hope that the preceding information proved to be a useful summary of both what has been accomplished and how the Project will be configured for this Spring. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or further suggestions concerning the Project. I would also ask that you keep in mind the essential goal that we are trying to accomplish via this Project, i.e., to establish a "community of learners" that can enhance the preparation of new teachers, while at the same time support the work of existing teachers of deaf/hard-of-hearing students. With your help the Project can be a success. With your participation, the Project will make a difference.