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«OECD/CERI ICT PROGRAMME Hungarian case study No. 2 A Case Study of ICT and School Improvement at FRIGYES KARINTHY BILINGUAL SECONDARY GRAMMAR SCHOOL, ...»

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Students interested in ICT culture have quickly realised the chance to be pioneers in the computerisation process of their school and have joined their teachers already at the http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (6 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


start to act as assistant technicians, web designers and programmers and facilitators of classroom use of ICT tools.

There are so-called "internationally valid" disciplines that are well furnished with CAL materials, e.g. foreign language education, mathematics, science, biology, (world) history and art. Teachers of these areas of study find it easy to obtain teaching aids suitable to their curricula.

They can make use of products of big international software developers, enjoy shareware provided on the Internet and exchange their own programmes with colleagues. (Other, less ICT-oriented disciplines and study areas like literature, music, biology, geography, national history, PE etc. Will have a much narrower selection of materials, fewer teacher training programmes and consequently much less models for ICT use that interested but untrained in ICT teachers may use as examples.

Thus, there will be disciplines with very little computer use.)

1.3 How do the staff, students, and parents view these accomplishments?

Picture 5: Teachers'Room for Biology teachers We have not met anyone who was against introducing ICT culture to even more areas as have already been tackled. We have met several enthusiasts and experts and some more hesitant supporters from among the teachers but only happy and contented parents and students. It seems that families who select a bilingual secondary school with a high level of education will be those who fully understand the importance of ICT knowledge and educate their children to benefit from it.

Alumni of Karinthy whom we also managed to interview see it as a big advantage to have had the chance to be among the first secondary school students in Hungary to receive a profound training in computer use. Many of them have decided to volunteer for work in the http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (7 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


ICT department of their home school - even if their jobs or studies are totally unrelated to information technology. They underlined the importance of helping "the Karinthy kids of today" to get access to the Internet and be regular users of resources on CD-ROM in order to succeed in life and be active members of the knowledge society.

Picture 6: Students at recess in the "hangout": the student ICT space freely available from morning 2. Overview of the past

2.1 What led to these accomplishments?

Information Technology as a discipline was introduced right from the foundation years of the school, from 1988/89. Teachers of Technology incorporated basic computer skills in their curriculum and kept in pace with national reforms. When ICT as a separate discipline was introduced, they were among the first to teach it. Around 1990, the discipline-based teams of teachers received their computers to investigate possible uses. At one of the first national ICT competitions for secondary school students the first prize went to a student of Karinthy.

In 1992-93, the George Soros Foundation issued its first computer lab grant application and Karinthy was one of the winners. In 1987, at the launch of the Hungarian School Net

- the educational network connecting by now all Hungarian secondary schools and 60 % of primary http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (8 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


schools - Karinthy was invited to give a demonstration on how computers may be used in the teaching of different disciplines. This series of demonstrations was an important national event, much publicised in the media and gave a big boost to discipline-based innovation on ICT use in education.

This aspect makes Karinthy a unique place to study the effects of computer culture on education. In the majority of schools not just in Hungary but also in many other countries where ICT is included in the national curriculum as a separate discipline for study, computer culture at school is anchored to the teacher of ICT. Not true for Karinthy: here several teachers have been active computer users, software analysts and programme customizers right from the start. This feature is invaluable for cultivating a tradition for integrating new developments in ICT with traditional, valued and valuable methods of education, making this emerging culture an "improver not an intruder".

2.2 Who initiated the ideas, who shepherded them to completion?

As one of the leading figures of the school, as one of the Vice Principals has formulated it, innovative ideas arise from motivating, brainstorming sessions among staff members but many ideas generate from alumni. An example: the previously described "scattered placement of computers" scheme (cf. 1.1) was an idea of a graduate who, in the early 1990s, - the advent of computer use in our country -started working as systems manager at a law firm. There he gained experiences about the optima use of computer networks and later, when Karinthy applied to the George Soros Foundation for a network of one server and 12 work stations, he could give advice on optimal placement of the machines.

Picture 7: The ICT laboratory - place for discipline-based InformationTechnology studies http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (9 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


It is generally believed that younger teachers are more likely to adopt new teaching methods and tools than their older colleagues. At Karinthy, it is by far not the case. Major PC users are in their mid forties and the art teacher mentioned before, who became a national authority on software useful for secondary level art education was well into her fifties when she first sat in front of a computer. ICT specialists were instrumental but there were teachers of different age groups and disciplines right at the start of the computerisation process. Women teachers at Karinthy seem to be as active computer users as men and no sex differences in school use of ICT has been observed among students either. (Preferences for war games versus fashion web sites are evident but, in our opinion, do not reflect different patterns of PC use.)

2.3 What barriers were overcome in doing this?

There have been and perhaps still are opponents of computer use - teachers who are afraid of loosing the "human touch" of education if mediating knowledge through computers. The strategy used to convince ICT-haters was mild but effective and taken from the world of hunting.

Hunters provide food for their future game long before they actually go out to hunt for them in order to make them used to special places of the forest. School leaders provided computers for hesitant teachers, placing PCs into staff rooms, but did not make ICT use obligatory. The "food" was there, luring, in front of their eyes, and they could see how more experienced colleagues make use of it.

Sooner or later those rejecting computers started to watch, ask questions, test easy but lucrative applications (playing cards or doing a simple word processing task) and finally became ready "game" for managers who could now offer in-service courses to motivated novices.

Lack of adequate funds is an obstacle all schools have to face. Innovative teaching requires extra efforts. Fortunately, the management of Karinthy is aware of the importance of financial motivation and tries to do its best to allocate resources in an optimal way.

Fluctuation of teaching staff is a big problem. Teachers love their high-level school housed in a beautiful, award-winning building but salaries are very low and pedagogical rewards (discussed in a later passage) do not always compensate for that. 10 % of teachers decides to leave each year and many replace their full-time teaching contract with a part-time one. As regards ICT, it means that well-trained teachers may decide to leave the school to be replaced perhaps by untrained in ICT methods colleagues.

3. The present

3.1 Characteristics of the school Teachers at this school are fortunate to teach selected students with high abilities and strong self-motivation. Entrance examinations are necessary because there are at least 4-6 applicants for every single place at Karinthy - although there are several other bilingual secondary schools in the country. At its opening in the early nineties, when this was the only state-owned Hungarian school offering tuition in a foreign language, there were 20 applicants for one place. It is the talent and enthusiasm of students that makes teachers prefer their job at Karinthy to other, much better paid occupations outside of the education sector. Language teachers told us that they got job offers with lucrative salaries from multinational companies but declined them because they much rather teach bright kids who opt for bilingual education for less. Fluctuation, a problem mentioned before is there but if the quality of the population was lower, retaining highly qualified http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (10 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


staff had been much more difficult.

Picture 8: The spacious entrance area (aula) decorated for a school feast One of the unique features of this school used to be its fine arts specialisation class. Graduates were accepted at major Hungarian art colleges and many of them became distinguished artists, designers, architects and art teachers. The corridors and halls of Karinthy were famous for the extremely high quality student artwork exhibited and the senior art teacher, Mrs. Gitta Rózsavölgyi, was regularly invited to participate in international research projects on art and design education. Students had at least one art class every day and had a choice of several extra-curricular art and design activities. ICT was embraced in this programme as soon as it set foot in Hungary. Mrs.

Rózsavölgyi learnt to handle graphics and CAD programmes in her fifties and started teaching them at once. Her art curriculum was an excellent example for the synergy of traditional and ICT-based creative methods. This programme unfortunately had to be closed down because students who were found most talented in art could not meet the other entry requirements of the school: high level performance in mathematics and Hungarian language studies. For many years, future artists had a different entrance procedure but student and parent revolt made the management to introduce unified entrance criteria.

3.2 Use of ICT by specialist teachers ICT teachers regularly use their computer lab and engage in all other ICT-related activities of the school: building and maintenance of professional home pages, http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (11 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


international projects, preparation for competitions and writing grant proposals. They are qualified to perform maintenance activities and are responsible for monitoring fair computer use of students. As resource people, they are often asked by fellow teachers to give advice on software or fix hardware problems. These are typical unpaid tasks for Hungarian ICT teachers, but at Karinthy, numerous grants offer a chance for management to at least partially reward the services of these key staff members.

Picture 9: Room of the system operator

ICT teachers in Hungary enjoy a vivid professional life. They have several professional associations - the most important ones being the ICT Teachers' Association and the Association of School ICT System Operators. The members of this latter professional community that acts as a trade union and fights for the official acknowledgement and reward for this profession are also mostly ICT teachers, as they are obliged (morally or through management decision) to fulfil the task of system operator. Leadership in both associations is very interested in educational research and engage in several projects themselves. Two of the leading members are PhD. students working for a degree in Education, three others prepare for the entrance examination to a PhD. programme in 2002.

Thus, ICT teachers at Karinthy, regular participants and presenters at national conferences and professional meetings, have first-hand knowledge on proceedings in ICT-related educational research.

http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (12 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


3.3 Use of ICT by non-specialist teachers One of the most important plans for the future is to increase the number of computers placed in discipline-based rooms. A special multimedia PC laboratory for non-ICT education is also planned. Management envisages the introduction of the National Frame Curriculum in September 2001 as an imperative to increase ICT use. According to the Principal, Sándor Hartay, the new curriculum will restrict the number of lessons for several disciplines and it means reduction of practice time for new knowledge. One of the best ways to overcome problems created by less practice is to offer personalised practice opportunities with tests and tasks that students can do on the computer in their spare time. When structured well and tailored according to personal needs and deficiencies / talents, ICT can help overcome teaching and learning problems caused by reduced teaching time for important disciplines like physics, biology or chemistry. Teachers of these disciplines will be invited to find or develop digital teaching materials that optimises the transfer of learning materials in the restricted times available.

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