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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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Ilona BenkQ, the librarian of the school has fully computerised the catalogue and information system of the school library. A very popular place to learn, browse and chat, this space is open practically all through the day. To ensure efficient service, she organised a Student Librarian course for senior students, taught them about ICT use in libraries and issued successful graduates a certificate testifying for their knowledge of basic library duties. Students trained by this dedicated librarian-teachers take turns in helping her out and provide excellent professional assistance for peers who come in to do research for homework, project assignments or matters of personal interest. These student librarians are fully authorised assistants to Mrs. BenkQ and may open up the library for peers in off-duty hours as well. This system of training and employing ICT-savvy student librarians became a model and has been adopted by several Hungarian secondary schools.

Picture 10: Traditional and ICT-based information materials side by side at the School Library http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (13 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


Gabriella Frank, German teacher and Imréné Pintácsi, Mathematics teacher currently participate in an experimental study to develop and test ICT-based teaching methods and materials. They have successfully tested several software packages and educational resources on the Internet and will disclose their experiences in the textbook series of this research project to be published by the National Educational Books Publishing House.

3.4 Use of ICT for internal communication Every staff member at Karinthy is entitled to have an e-mail account on the school server. 20 % of the teachers have more than one e-mail addresses and about 80 % have used their e-mail. Messages from the management are always sent by e-mail through paper copies are also distributed for non-users. Some teachers send students assignments or advise on e-mail and are ready to answer any queries concerning school life when submitted electronically by a student. (This extra working load is growing, however, and may cause problems in the future.) Those teachers, who are actively engaged in ICT-based learning, have their own professional home pages that can be reached from the school web site. About 50 % f the teachers possesses a computer at home.

Picture 11 :Entry surveillance system in action - László Hutay, Vice Principal and biology teacher, initiator of the school's ICT programme tries to enter the building http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (14 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


The school ICT system has a new function that staff and students alike have to use: the computer-based entry and surveillance system. Everybody has an Entry Card that grants entry rights to predefined areas of the building. Using this card means being aware of how such systems work and what are their benefits and handicaps. Other functions for smart cards are being developed, e.g. access to the prepaid lunch counter.

3.5 Incentives used for spreading ICT culture Each student is entitled to have an e-mail account with a limited storage space and access to Intranet. Using the Internet, however, is not unconditionally granted. As there are much fewer PCs than potential users, those who volunteer to help teachers or do homework with web search have priority. Storage space on the school server is granted for those with good learning results only. Actually, having a home page is very fashionable and not too many students have access to outside accounts and server space. Thus, it is a very powerful motivation for learning that good marks ensure a possibility to have a home page and volunteer work for the school will be rewarded with more storage space to host a fancier home page.

Teachers do not get a special reward for using ICT, nor are ICT skills required from applicants for new jobs. Those staff members, however, who intend to do work in this field, are supported by management in writing grant applications. When successful, grant receivers enjoy complete freedom to spend funds raised. Management encourages and supports attendance at professional conferences and looks for staff exchange possibilities abroad.

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3.6 Level of computer use by students ICT is taught at this secondary school according to the Hungarian national curriculum, as a separate discipline for all grades. Students perform below average at national and local ICT surveys. As Internet search, preparation of presentations and home pages belong to standard project tasks with several disciplines, they mostly excel in standard software applications and web browsing tasks. Those with a more akin interest in computers may join programming and web design circles.

Fair use is regulated in a brochure describing rules and regulations of PC and Internet use at school. This information material also describes the process of getting an e-mail account, using the school home page that has restricted access compartments. Students sign an agreement with the school in which they declare themselves ready to submit to the rules of fair and proper use. Internet use is constantly being monitored through a special surveillance software nicknamed Big Brother written by one of the system operators. With the help of this programme, authorised teachers may view any time which home pages are being visited by the individual students. Those who visit offensive sites or those with pornographic content will be deprived of their right to use the Internet.

In none of the surveys did we fin any indication that boys are more skilled in ICT use than girls. Also, no gaps between medium and low poverty students were observed. (No high poverty student at this school.) Teachers asked could not come up with evidence about girls doing worse in ICT tasks than boys. However, evident differences of interest lead to different PC use patterns and consequently, higher level skills in certain tasks. (E.g.: hand-eye co-ordination in handling game keyboards is much better with boys and girls are more concentrated and swift information seekers on the Internet.)

3.7 Computer use by students and their parents at home Many teachers are active users of ICT and work on creating novel applications with the use of computer-supported learning tools. The teacher of Biology, for example, created a web-based virtual lab where students could dissect a frog using ICT tools and pre-loaded images.

Thus, (quasi) hands-on experiences of dissection and knowledge about the muscular and bone structure of the frog has been successfully disseminated to almost one hundred students and only one frog had to be sacrificed for the sake of science.

Foreign language teachers take part in several experiments using CD-ROMs and Internet sites in language learning. Here, authentic foreign language use is guaranteed through life-like speaking and writing tasks, orientation exercises as well as information retrieval ad processing projects. Students and teachers are testing traditional textbook and CD-ROM packages with a regularly updated by the publisher educational homepage as a background. They intend to choose the most suitable ones for Hungarian learners. Teachers develop their own applications of existing programmes and even prepare self-designed tests and tasks. The methodical innovations and critical descriptions of existing material greatly contribute to the use of ICT in Hungary.

http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (16 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


4. Projection to the future

4.1 How likely is it that these accomplishments will remain?

The leadership of this school wholeheartedly supports change. They see the using ICT in education a never-ending process of educational improvements. They clearly see connections between the spread of new teaching methods and increased computer use. Any staff member who has an innovative teaching idea is encouraged to elaborate on it, come up with a project plan. When plausible and pedagogically in line with the school's basic objectives, this will enjoy the moral support of the Principal and its deputies. Financial resources are scarce, but management support also includes help with writing grant proposals. Thus, ICT-based innovations are very likely to become standard features of teaching and learning in this school.

Picture 12: Office of the school administrator

Important aspects of ICT use at Karinthy are internal and external communication and data storage.

Many of the teachers we interviewed declared that the functioning of the school is largely dependent on the proper functioning of the PC network. Most teachers have become so much used to computers for communication and information retrieval that they would consider the breakdown of the system a major obstacle.

Another important agent of change is the bilingual type of education. English language teaching aids (produced both in the UK and US) are in regular use and many of them are http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (17 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


digital or supplemented by CDs and web sites. Teachers find it helpful to use them. With constantly upgraded equipment and double speed bandwidth for Internet (provided by the Hungarian School Net free of charge as an upgrade of existing services from January 2001 for 300 selected Hungarian secondary schools) they will certainly use them more and more often.

The International Baccalaureate (IB), the final examination that students may sit for (as an addition to their obligatory Hungarian final examination or baccalaureate) makes frequent use of ICT. Students may view sample tasks from previous years, teachers may contact colleagues from other parts of Hungary or abroad to discuss preparation and results. Many support materials are offered on the IB web site (www.ib.org) and Chief Examiners for the disciplines keep in touch with colleagues all over the world through e-mail. All these require constant computer use for

teachers involved - and about 30 % of teachers are constantly involved with the IB procedure:

preparation for it, the actual examination and assessment of IB work. This exam is another feature of Karinthy that ensures the sustenance of ICT-based educational improvements. The World Bank of the UN gives financial assistance for the IB project. (About the results c.f. section 1.1.) When asked about his needs for further development of school ICT culture, one of the leading figures in this field answered firmly: "Apart from money, we do not need a thing. Let them just leave us work in peace." This statement means that given the past experiences, staff and students of the "pioneering" ICT -oriented schools know exactly how to proceed along the path of ICT-enriched education. They seem to need no centrally issued policies and guidelines. All they desire is appropriate financing.

The most ambitious plan for the future is to set up an ICT room available for all the disciplines to use on a subscription basis. Apart from 2-3 PCs situated in the classrooms allocated to the different disciplines, there seems to be need for a computer laboratory to be used for fully computer-supported lessons. The existing lab is in full use for the discipline called Information Technology. As more and more teachers realise the importance of holding classes in Foreign Language or Geography, Maths or Arts with all students in front of a computer, the need for a second lab becomes evident. The school is currently looking for funding options to realise this new development.

4.2 How easily could they be extended to other schools?

New models of teaching through ICT that have been elaborated at this school are inspiring for colleagues and found to be adaptable even at schools with much lower infrastructure level and average student population. In-service training courses as well as on-site teaching presentations are standard features here. After every dissemination meeting, dozens of letters arrive (both electronically and on paper) from schools all over Hungary requiring further assistance and publications for the adoption of methods observed. Staff members regularly publish in educational journals, newsletters and conference proceedings and one of the leaders is a PhD. student working on the description of the ICT culture at Karinthy as a model for secondary education.

Extension of educational knowledge is part of the mission of Karinthy. The school is involved in teacher training as a laboratory school for Eötvös Loránd University. (During the years when the enhanced art programme was a standard feature, the University of crafts and Design also contracted the school as a training site.) http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (18 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


4.3 What resources are required for maintenance?

The job of the system operator for schools is not described in the Hungarian list of occupations. Therefore, school principals have to find their way around employing a specialist who will cater for the machines. Without a permanently employed specialist, no PC system is likely to function for long. This problem occurs at Karinthy as well where students and alumni who have received degrees in ICT or engineering often help out with maintenance chores free of charge. The core team consists of three one-time students who regularly come to the school PC workshop on Friday afternoons and often stay there all night. They set up documentation about the whole system and keep track of use to suggest improvements. Recently a technician was employed who currently studies for a degree in ICT and will be employed as system operator in the near future.

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