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Building school community relationships: The role of higher education

National School Network testbed research


THIS PAPER is an outgrowth of a 1996 study conducted through the National School Network, which includes organizations and schools that are pioneers in integrating the Internet into the curriculum. In the course of our research, we found that community groups are more likely to make the investment required to build a local information infrastructure and support school restructuring when they are able to understand and participate in the educational benefits from that infrastructure. As organizations that function within the local community, schools, as well as teachers, administrators, students, and parents are affected by the local environment—its values, norms, political structures, and economy. As centers of learning, schools also influence their local communities. Our findings indicated that by forming different kinds of partnerships including ones with higher education, the school can enrich its curriculum, and the community can grow to understand, accept, and benefit from the networking technology and the changes in the school. This paper describes two case studies taken from National School Network (NSN) members which involve higher education to help build successful school—community involvement.

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Author information

Correspondence to Melanie Goldman or Catalina Laserna.

Additional information

Melanie Goldman is currently the Co-Principal Investigator for the National School Network, a National Science Foundation project which works with leaders in school networking and curriculum reform to assist schools and communities in building their own Local Information Infrastructures (LII). She received her B.A.magna cum laude with honors in Fine Arts from Brandeis University, an M.Ed. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School. Prior to coming to BBN Educational Technologies Department, she worked at Harvard University, building an Internet support infrastructure, consulting, instructing, and facilitating many Internet-related activities.

In the late 80s, Ms. Goldman worked with others to pioneer the regional network, NEARNET; she served on the NEARNET Steering Committee, the NEARNET Advisory Committee, and chaired the NEARNET User Services Committee. She also represented NEARNET at the Federation of American Research Networks (FARNET), an organization that addresses national networking issues. In her efforts supporting the K-12 community, she has worked to plan, develop, and support the use of networks in schools to improve education, in particular assisting in efforts across Massachusetts to integrate telecommunications into the classroom and to build a state network.

Catalina Laserna is a development associate at the Harvard Institute for International Development. She holds a Ph.D. degree in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge, England. Her interests are in the field of anthropology and education.

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Goldman, M., Laserna, C. Building school community relationships: The role of higher education. J. Comput. High. Educ. 9, 44–70 (1998).

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  • Internet
  • partnerships
  • National School Network
  • community involvement
  • school restructuring