CM February 23, 
1996. Vol. II, Number 19

image Modems, Megabytes & Me!
Telecommunicating Across the Curriculum.

Gary Garfield and Suzanne McDonough.
Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1995. 144pp, paper, $16.00.
ISBN 1-895411-78-5.

Subject Headings:
Computers-Study and teaching (Elementary)-Activity programs.
Computer-assisted instruction.
Computers and children.

Professional: K - 8.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**1/2 /4


How far have we traveled since the days of the little red schoolhouse? Although rapid population growth spurred the expansion of schools from one route multi-graded classrooms to today's mega school districts, we wonder: How much has really changed? . . . With a computer, telephone and modem you can give the child access to the world. Anywhere a telephone and computer exist together is a potential source for information and learning . . . an idea and practice that will forever change the way you think about, and teach children to think about, learning. This reality will also require all teachers to think differently about how they teach and how children learn. This knowledge by itself has the potential to change the basic premise and foundation of education.

image We are know teachers who are crazy about computers and use them as much as possible in their classroom routine. We also know teachers who don't want to have anything to do with technology and ignore its potential for themselves as teachers and for their students. But teachers need not be afraid of learning, nor should they be afraid that, at least initially, students may know more than the teachers about telecommunicating. This book gives reluctant teachers gentle guidelines for jumping into the fray.

Teachers who are terrified of technology can read Modems, Megabytes and Me! and realize that technology need be neither terrifying nor separate from daily classroom activities. It is a step-by-step and reader-friendly book that outlines why teachers should get connected, how to connect (including the basic definitions), and provides more than seventy pages of theme-related activities that fit in with the classroom curriculum from kindergarten to grade eight.

Chapter two explains what a teacher needs to set up a basic computer centre in a classroom. It suggests sources of financial support from the school and the community -- an important element in education today. It also mentions some different software packages available to go on line, and where to find them. The instructions for setting up software are very specific, and should give teachers new to telecommunicating some confidence. The conclusion of the book offers some case studies of students who benefitted from using telecommunication resources.


The themes suggested are aimed at specific grade levels. They are set up as lesson plans, with objectives, related topics, preparation, and procedure and activities. The activities range from researching cookie recipes, collecting jokes, chatting on-line with CEOs of corporations, collecting scientific information from NASA and graphing it, getting answers directly from scientists, to doing genealogical researchn and so on.

There is nothing special in the activities outlined in the book. But each theme has a suggested telecommunications activity that combined with conventional teaching practices to the greater store of knowledge and resources for students. The authors assert that using telecommunications is an essential part of educating a child in today's world, and that teachers are obligated to become familiar with telecommunicating practices and make them a part of their teaching routine. Children must learn to use the resources offered through computers and modems and whatever else is the next development of telecommunications in order to be able to function capably and confidently.

Modems, Megabytes and Me! is a book that has up-to-date information about computers and telecommunications. Some of it may become dated as new advances in technology are introduced. But the ideas for themes and activities will be useful by themselves and as springboards for a teacher's own ideas for a long time.



Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364