Middle schools trying online tool
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Oct 20, 2000
Three Broward County, Fla., middle schools are testing a new Internet-based
education network that enables students to post and store assignments online
and lets teachers conduct virtual meetings with parents. Developed by Broadform
Inc., a New York-based Internet education provider, the "holistic" system
is designed to increase collaboration between students, educators, administrators
"Our challenge is to help [teachers] integrate technology in their classrooms,"
said Rick Reichenbach, vice president of education and training at Broadform.
To help implement the system, the three schools — with an enrollment
totaling about 3,500 students — received $450,000 from the Annenberg Foundation,
a philanthropic group. Broadform, which is also negotiating with other school
districts, would charge schools a yearly fee per student, but Reichenbach
did not specify the price. Similar to what companies use, Broadform supplies
schools with a package of applications and programs, such as word processors,
spreadsheets, drawing tools, calendars, that can be calendars, that can be viewed and operated via the Web. Broadform also supplies Web-based hard drives for every
student, live daily news feeds and communication tools, such as e-mail,
chat rooms and bulletin boards.
Using the online network:
* Students can check homework assignments and projects, hold group study
sessions, research education Web sites, write papers and prepare presentations.
* Parents can track and monitor their children's progress, check grades
and attendance, view upcoming homework assignments, and hold conferences
* Administrators can track enrollment, post school calendars and monitor
overall school performance.
* Teachers can prepare lessons, communicate with other faculty members
and administrators, schedule virtual tours of museums or give demonstrations,
or invite experts into the classroom via the Web.
Reichenbach said Broadform will provide computer training to teachers,
administrators and parents.
The system also conforms to the Children's Online Privacy Protection
Act, which defines an operator's responsibilities in collecting children's
personal information and protecting their safety online.
Jayne Hall, principal of Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School, one of
the three participating schools, said that if the test is successful, the
school plans to expand the network to its elementary and high schools.