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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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Since the first major PC purchases in 1993, upgrading old computers is another burning problem that requires constant investment. Just like in other state-owned schools, the head quote allocated by the Ministry of Education for the upkeep of the school does not cover such expenses. Grant applications are constantly on the agenda and success is inevitable for further improvement.

At the time of the installation of the first systems, the early 1990s, there were several initiatives to organise teacher training courses for staff members. The introductory presentations were followed with interest but soon the knowledge level and interests of teachers became so diverse that no unified course seemed to be appropriate..

Training of new staff is another issue that has yet to be solved. At present, those who are hired do not receive any ICT training, only an e-mail address for the school server, codes for the dedicated areas of the home page and a briefing on its content. There is no written description of the facilities for computer-supported education and no training needs analysis for newcomers who may require basic or further training. For the foreign teachers, however, information material has been prepared that may serve as a draft for what is required for the Hungarian teachers joining the Karinthy team. As one of the teachers remarked, "You either adapt quickly or fail adapting altogether."

5. Main hypotheses

4.1 Technology is a strong catalyst for educational innovation and improvement, especially when the World Wide Web is involved. The rival hypothesis is that where true school-wide improvement is found, technology served only as an additional resource and not as a catalyst, that the forces that drove the improvements also drove the application of technology to specific educational problems.

The second hypothesis has been proved with the example of Karinthy. Here, the needs of bilingual education naturally led to ICT culture as a resource for study and tool for communication. ICT served as a catalyst that channelled innovative efforts of staff, giving a common platform for development.

4.2 The diffusion of the innovation/improvement (and therefore of ICT) followed the traditional diffusion pattern for innovations, as outlined by Rogers (1995). The rival hypothesis is that technology functions differently from traditional innovations and that therefore different diffusion patterns occur.

ICT seems to function differently from other innovations. Spread of this culture http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (19 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


is related both to equipment and skills of users. Both of these can be increased but their growth rate is highly unpredictable. (For example, winning a big grant may double the number of computers available and result in different use patterns in a short time. New legal regulations of the teaching profession including ICT competence requirements may dramatically increase teacher willingness to participate in courses - but a popular software application broadly covered by the media will have similar effects.) Innovations in the field of ICT are rapid and may dramatically influence the quality and quantity of use. Also, these innovations cannot be foreseen and taken into consideration when planning an ICT in education policy for a period of five, let alone two years. Therefore, pattern of growth in this area will be studied by historians of education who look back to the first decades of school computerisation to reveal patterns of change that characterised the past but may hold no consequences for the future.

4.3 Successful implementation of ICT depends mostly upon staff competence in the integration of ICT into instruction and learning. This hypothesis assumes that teachers mediate ICT applications when they are successful, and that ICI's academic value relates positively to teacher competence. The rival hypothesis is that the school technological infrastructure and student ICT competence rather than staff competence determine ICT implementation outcomes.

Student competence in ICT does not guarantee high level educational use, it only helps - and certainly manifests a challenge for - teachers to increase their own competence and become successful moderators of ICT culture related to their own field of study. At Karinthy, clearly the first hypothesis is Positive management views on ICT seem to be the most important prerequisite for safeguarding accomplishments. If school leadership is neutral or negative towards ICT culture, use of computers in education and communication will be sporadic, minimal and stagnant.

4.4 Gaps in academic performance between high and low poverty students will not increase when all students have equal access to ICT. The rival hypothesis is that equal access to ICT will lead to more advantaged students increasing the performance gap with disadvantaged (high poverty) students.

At Karinthy, it is the first hypothesis that holds. There are no high poverty students at this school but those who are less advantaged benefit a lot from the use of ICT. Gaps in academic performance actually decreases between the two groups as students with no library or computer access at home find information and supplementary material for learning through the ICT facilities they can access at school.

4.5 Successful implementation of ICT will lead to the same or higher academic standards in spite of the low quality of many ICT materials. Academic standards are a function of teacher and school expectations and not of the standards of textbooks, ICT materials, and the like. The alternative hypothesis is that ICT use will lead to a lowering of academic standards as students spend more time on marginally beneficial searches and in browsing poor quality Web and courseware content.

None of the hypotheses are verifiable at this point. Even at Karinthy, one of the frontrunners of ICT culture, it is very difficult to test the results of ICT on learning to learn skills or performance in any given discipline. Isolation of the effects of computer culture from other factors that have been proven to substantially influence change is very difficult.

One can, however, express beliefs that are justified by the interviews and classroom observations at this school. ICT does not hinder scholastic performance as students cannot http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (20 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


spend excessive amount of time in front of the computer engaged in irrelevant for their studies activities. Simply, there are not enough machines for that. On the other hand, quick access to information seems to be an advantage that actually increases time to be spent on learning.

Presentation and word processing devices, graphic and data processing software all relieve students from tedious hands-on chores that have little or no connections with skill development or cognitive growth. Thus, in the near future when the majority of students will have a PC (in the majority of cases with Internet access) from their homes, ICT will definitely improve learning results, as homework will become an intellectual task rather than an exercise in handwriting.

Appendix A : Methodology; description of the amounts and types of data collected Size and composition of the research team: a team of four researchers – all holding a teachers’ degree also and acquainted with the work of the school since its foundation - was organised.

Observers were trained, along with others working in the other Case Study schools, in two, full day sessions and given the Workbook Version 9b in Hungarian along with structured interview questions.

The team was encouraged to supplement questions to the interview scheme to suit local needs.

Previous experiences with the school and work connections with several staff members in the frameworks of other ICT projects roved to be very helpful.

Amount of time spent at the school: 4 full days and 11 visits lasting 2-3 hours to attend special, ICT-related lessons and study circle sessions as well as interesting school events like art shows.

Amounts and types of data collected: as mentioned before, members of the OECD/CERI Hungarian research team have been acquainted with the work of Karinthy all through the first decade of its existence. (The school is constantly being visited by teacher students of Eötvös University, home to the OECD research team, and hosts a range of professional workshops and conferences.) Thus, anecdotal evidence about the foundation of the school, level of teaching and learning, types of activities and general atmosphere were readily available. For the purposes of the study, the following

data collection methods were employed:

Ø Interviews with teachers and school administration (10 interviews executed) Ø Interviews with parents and students (15 interviews executed) Ø On-site observations of classes (15 lessons observed) Ø Observation of written and visual communication of the school (analysis of school home page, 20 home pages of students, 5 home pages of teachers related to special disciplines), school magazine Ø Analysis of digital teaching aids developed by staff Ø Testing of ICT skills and attitudes with Version 1 tests of the Quasi-Experimental Study of this research project (data were presented at he meeting in Poitiers in January 2000 and used for their further development. (90 students tested, age groups 13, 15, 17) Ø Critical reading of project applications and reports by Karinthy staff members for grants donated by the school and by foundations.

Ø Observation of student work done with the help of computers (papers, presentations, tests, creative work, computer programmes etc.) http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (21 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


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Appendix C: Other supporting evidence (if any); e.g., examples of student work, school

newsletters, inspector reports, newspaper articles about the school:

Examples of student and teachers work have been collected and are partly on show on the home page of the school: http://www.akg.hu/.

Here, the digital version of the school newsletter with archive of old issues, produced by students can also be seen, along with an archive displaying illustrations to articles and (very well-done) title pages of the newsletter also.

Media coverage of the school are being collected and kept in an archive by the school librarian – some recent reports, along with television interviews can be seen and downloaded from the school home page.

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

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