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Victor Aluise Brings Education into the Future

One of the best things about the Internet is all the information available at your fingertips. One of the worst is not knowing where to find the information you need.

"My experience has been that you have a need and you find other great stuff, but not find what you really needed," said Victor Aluise, an Education and Technology doctoral student at TC. When not working on his own education, Aluise spends his days as executive producer for wNet School, the K-12 Web service for Thirteen/WNET.

"The wNet School is an online resource for K-12 teachers to learn about the Internet and use it effectively to integrate Internet resources into their teaching while meeting core curriculum objectives and standards," Aluise explained.

Aluise has been working in the field of new media for ten years. As an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University majoring in science writing, he became interested in cognitive psychology and began to design computer-aided instruction for functionally illiterate adults. "That is how I ended up where I am," Aluise commented. "I evolved with the field."

In 1990, after working as a technical writer for a computer company in Germany, Aluise came to TC to work on his master's in Communication and Education and then pursue an Ed.M. in Instructional Technology. While in the Master's program, Aluise worked at Columbia Academic Information Systems and moved to Times Mirror Multi-Media, where he was a producer of educational CD-ROMs for children and for college-level biology and chemistry students. Before joining WNET, he worked on launching a Web site for Condé Nast Publications.

The wNet School Web presence, as Aluise refers to it, includes a number of features. One is an Internet Primer, which describes what the Internet is and how it is used in the classroom. It also illustrates how a school can get funding, write a technology plan, and develop "acceptable use" policies for students. "We will do almost a step-by-step tutorial on how to get running, including what communications software and computer hardware to have, tutorials on effective Internet services, how to evaluate a Web site, and how to use a Web site in the classroom," Aluise said.

A model schools program is another aspect of wNet School. The first model school on the site is a high school in Pittsburgh. "We are going to give an over-the-shoulder view on how they got wired and how they are doing with Internet curriculum projects," Aluise said. A middle school was added in October, and by December an elementary school.

Aluise added, "People getting started using the Internet can benefit from what the model schools have done."

Another offering is "Ask the Experts," an information and advice section providing answers to questions posed to experts. "Every week or two, the experts will give well-researched answers to questions that teachers submit," Aluise noted.

Other features are core curriculum lesson plans based on instructional television in the classroom. Also, a "Rocket Mail" button allows users who don't have an e-mail account to obtain one through the site. Then, periodically, a wNet School Bulletin will be sent to e-mail addresses of those signed up for the service. Though the service is free, users must register and create an account.

There is also a teacher collaborative workshop which is designed to include about 15 participating middle school teachers in math, science or social studies. However, anyone can follow the workshops, and there will be a forum for people to discuss what is happening. "I am hoping to work with TC in the future to offer these courses for credit," Aluise said. Elihu Rose, a Trustee of TC and WNET, has established internships for TC students of instructional media to work under Aluise's supervision at Thirteen/WNET.

To get a clearer picture of the many facets of the wNet School, visit the site at http://www.wnet.org/wnetschool/. In Aluise's words, "It's where education is moving."

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