Serving the Community
The best indication of CamNet’s success can be found in user responses. In the schools, teachers are using the network to obtain complete lesson plans. The exposure to the Internet is stimulating classroom ideas and approaches and is making accessible materials that could not be brought into the classroom before. School systems are finding free interactive staff development programs on the Internet. But it is the students who have profited the most. “The kids won’t keep their hands off it,” says one elementary administrator about CamNet in the schools.
“If I took the Internet out of the schools tomorrow, I’d have a walkout on my hands.”
…An Assistant Superintendent.
On the high school level, courses are being offered on “Surfing the Net,” and members of a student group called the “Yahooligans” serve as mentors for teachers and students alike. In the elementary grades, students have had interactive experiences with Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, have taken field trips to art museums without leaving the school, and have been able to use the library databases for researching papers and special projects. “The quality of these elementary school term papers has definitely improved since CamNet came up,” says one superintendent. Teachers have noticed that students approach their assignments with more enthusiasm and consult a wider range of both electronic and traditional sources than before CamNet was available. “If I took the Internet out of the schools tomorrow,” says an assistant superintendent,” I’d have a walkout on my hands.”
Teachers also note that the availability of electronic information sources has enabled them to strengthen their teaching of valuable skills such as problem solving and critical thinking. They note that teaching students how to evaluate information sources is especially important. Applying these three critical skills to inquiry on the Internet, says one librarian, “is the place where teachers and librarians come together”–where their shared missions of education and learning intersect. CamNet has enabled students to see “real world” aspects of what they are learning or researching. The powerful images of multimedia information give them a better appreciation for their subjects.
Directory of all institutions participating in CamNet
Users in the public library have also discovered new worlds on the Internet and CamNet. Some users have benefited by learning about employment possibilities and job openings; others have used the system to research technical information related to jobs, locate Web sites that discuss their favorite hobbies and pastimes, and look for auto parts catalogs to find the right parts to rehabilitate an old car. Recently, in one month the Internet was used 1,950 times on the library’s computers-an average of 67.2 uses per day. Use statistics show that Camden County Library patrons use the Internet for a wide variety of purposes and that there is broad interest in using the Internet-well beyond a few people who may be die-hard fans.