Problem-Solving Tools

Installing the telecommunications software and connecting the modem are only the first steps to “opening the windows to the world.” After all the equipment is operating properly, you will want to find on-line friends and correspondents. You also may be searching for telecommunications projects for your students. This section provides suggestions for getting started in the world of telecommunications.

Start small

Your first electronic “key-pal” does not have to be in Russia. Try a teacher in your school or district. By beginning with someone close, you can compare notes off-line as well as on-line, while you and your students learn the system.

Join a conference or newsgroup

One of the best ways to find other teachers with whom to communicate is by joining a conference. Most conferences have special interest topics, such as elementary education or science. You can post notices and request collaborators, or you can respond to others’ requests for collaboration.

Look for projects with speciŪc goals

Successful telecommunications projects for schools usually have specific goals, structures, and timelines. For example, a project may involve schools from across the country in a geography game. Participating schools are asked to send in their latitude, longitude, major rivers, and sources of employment to the project coordinator. Students have a limited amount of time to guess the correct locations of the other schools from this information and send the answers via email.

Ask questions

Many aspects of telecommunications are not “intuitive.” Fortunately, most people are more than willing to share solutions to issues that they have confronted. You can ask questions of your local colleagues off-line and also post queries to distant experts through on-line conferences.

Involve your students

Find responsible students and train them to be a part of the project administration. This practice can save you valuable time and gives the students a feeling of importance.

Encourage tangible exchanges

Although students enjoy communicating on-line, it is often beneficial to exchange other materials or to produce a product that can be shared. For beginning projects, it may easier to send the students’ writings and other projects in the mail and then discuss them on-line. You might also want to exchange videotapes or photographs through the mail rather than over the Internet if one or both schools has a slow connection.

Be careful—Telecommunications can be fun and addictive!

You will soon find that the hours just slip away as you correspond with friends around the globe. Before you sign up for every network and join 20 conferences, calculate the amount of time you can invest.

|| Contents || Telecommunications in the Classroom || Florida Information Resource Network || Hardware ||
|| Configuring your Computer || PPP email Applications || Implementation || Appendices ||

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