CYBER KIDS Philosophy
The CYBER KIDS Philosophy is grounded on the following:
CYBER Kids is an international pioneer in the design of curriculum that integrates educational content with mental development and social value.
We operate on the assumption that cognitive abilities are the result of mental attributes such as creativity, imagination, innovation, initiative, memory, attention, extrapolation, time planning and management, sequencing and categorizing abilities, sensorimotor mental speed and integration, strategy building, self-reflection, self-esteem, leadership and many others.
While a lot is being published on the role of computers and mental development, there is still no good definition of what the mental attributes are.
Especially during the last decade, there has been considerable debate on the value, objectivity and relevance of such brain-ability measurements as IQ scores with respect to future success in life. While the 20th century motto was "more is better" in all aspects of life including mental abilities, the CYBER Kids thesis is that the fine tuning and balanced development of the various mental attributes is the decisive predictive factor for future success in life.
Our research groups are active in both the area of defining the mental attributes that are important and decisive in child development as well as in designing computer-based learning scenarios and environments that optimise such attributes.
Each level emphasizes the cultivation of different mental attributes based on a child's psycho-emotional, sensorimotor, psycho-social and mental development state in order to effect balanced mental development. The essential contribution of the JUNIORS A curriculum centers on helping children develop their problem solving capabilities. This is achieved by focusing the educational effort on systematic processes and on cultivating the appropriate attitudes in the child's behaviour.
In each lesson, the child is required to solve a problem or to plan and design a project. At each step, s/he is guided through the same process of encountering a problem to be solved. Initially the effort focuses on problem definition, on understanding the nature of the problem which is being faced. Of great significance in the entire process is the interchanging of roles between teacher and student. That is to say, the approach entails a role reversal, in which the problem to be solved belongs to the student, as it is s/he who becomes interested in understanding it and solving it. This student-centered educational process stands in contrast to the teacher-centered approach, where "the problem" belongs to the teacher who wishes to teach a body of "material" to the students.
Having communicated to the student the challenge that s/he has a problem to be solved, understanding also the exact nature of the problem, we then enter the second phase of the problem-solving process. This focuses on specifying and identifying which tools are needed for the solution of the problem in question. At this stage the emphasis is on developing the child's ability to anticipate, to assess and to define accurately the type of tools which are required in order to achieve the desired outcome. Subsequently, we become occupied with the learning of the various tools and related skills. The process is finalized by delivering the project which itself constitutes an integral part of the problem-solving process.
The problems which the students are called upon to encounter are drawn from a variety of academic disciplines as well as everyday and professional settings. The idea here is to expose the child to the far reaching implications and transferability of what is being learned. In the above mentioned process, many IT applications are employed, so that the child becomes familiar with the basic meanings of these tools and versed in their frequent utilization. In this regard, one aspect of the curriculum of JUNIORS A involves a learning process which introduces the child to standard electronic tools such as Graphics Applications, Word Processing, Icon-based Programming, Spreadsheets, Multimedia etc. Moreover, in the process of completing the various projects, the student becomes familiar with numerous hitech equipment, such as scanners, digital cameras, networks and Internet, as well as specialized educational environments such as Visual Basic Logo, Hyperstudio, RoboLang, Story Animator, Paintomania and others.
In this manner, modern computer technologies are integrated into the educational process not as an end in themselves, but rather as a means for attaining educational objectives. Thereby, technical means are activated and learned as elements of broader educational activities and ends. Beyond the individual projects which aim at the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills and appropriate attitudes, the curriculum of JUNIORS A incorporates also the social development of the children. This aspect of the curriculum focuses on the development of a common "language", on designing and working on group projects, on opening channels of communication with the teacher and fellow students in the class but also with the broader CYBER community, teachers, friends and coworkers, as well as with the social environment in general. But beyond this level, the curriculum, through electronic means of communication, opens up the emerging new frontier of GLOBAL SOCIABILITY, by establishing new relationships in cyberspace through our CYBER Kids server (www.cyber.cy.net).
The development of sociability is also achieved through extracurricular activities which are organized by the various CYBER Kids centers. These may include (but are not limited to):
1. Educational Exhibition of Electronic Art, by students.
2. Exhibitions on innovation, technology and social progress, where the emphasis is on frontier work. CYBER Kids may be involved as an innovator in the interface of education and electronic technology.
3. Participation in various exhibitions and Expos in which CYBER Kids can participate exhibiting student work in different areas.
4 Clubs in which students communicate on various subjects of interest through electronic networks, such as in the CYBER BBS, CYBER Kids IRC, and the Internet in general.
5. Public Fairs and flea markets organized for charity or community purposes.
6. Publishing work in the CYBER newspaper
7. Creating pages on Internet, etc.
Students as well as their parents are kept informed about these and other similar activities and are invited to participate actively. This process is considered as an essential dimension in enhancing the sociability of students, as it entails a vital link between CYBER Kids innovative education and the broader social environment and social change. One additional component in the curriculum of JUNIORS A is "Exploration". There is a folder in the computer which the child is called upon to "explore". This Exploration folder contains a continuously up-dated plethora of educational programs, games and various shareware which the child is invited to freely play with and learn from through his own spontaneous initiative. The educational emphasis here centers on developing in the child a spirit of experimentation and exploration. In addition, through "Exploration" children are kept well informed about general developments in the field of IT.
But there is yet another function of the "games" exploration file, in that it may be used by the instructor as a means of class management. The educational games, on the one hand, function as an incentive for students to finish their class project. While on the other hand, they keep the speedier students creatively engaged until all the rest finish their class project. This way the instructor will have all the students together, moving in unison when starting to the next project. One of the increasingly important aspects of the JUNIORS curriculum is the use of Internet. The significance of Internet can never be overestimated, as it directly touches the heart and pulse of the society of the future. As Internet is not only a technological means, but also a new form of societal infrastructure of global scope, introducing it in the curriculum through educational projects will put students in the future mode. Becoming versed in the use and possibilities of Internet brings the student in direct contact with the key determinant of social change, as this is oriented toward the already developing Global Society. The limitless possibilities for communication, exchanges and learnings through the dimension of CYBER SPACE, raises the Internet to a global means of instant interconnectedness and interdependence on the levels of both knowledge and cross-cultural contact. Thus an educational approach which has the future in view would inevitably anticipate that the use of Internet in the school curriculum will and must become increasingly central. The CYBER Kids curriculum gives the students a head start in this direction. It is a requirement at CYBER Kids that each student must make their own home page on our server www.cyber.cy.net The basic learning which occurs through the curriculum of JUNIORS A, by integrating computer technology in the educational process, has far reaching consequences for the entire educational development of children. For the knowledge and skills acquired through the CYBER curriculum is optimally transferable to almost all fields of learning as well as vocational spheres. A student may easily use what s/he is learning and vastly reinforce his/her learning in the existing conventional fields. S/he may use his/her CYBER knowledge in the subject of science as well as history, in mathematics as well as geography, in art as well as social studies. Moreover, the student is greatly empowered in his/her ability to access information, to select from a range of means, to conduct research, to organize, plan and execute projects, etc., all of which constitute an integral part of the educational process.
In this regard, of great importance in the JUNIORS curriculum, is the use of electronic encyclopedias for work which is directly linked to the student's school work. The curriculum may set time aside for electronically assisted research. Here, the instructor guides the students into using relevant electronic encyclopedias in order to research themes and topics they are currently studying in school. This research may focus on any school subject ranging from Geography, History, Biology, Physics, Literature, Science, etc.
In all the above ways, the CYBER curriculum introduces and provides a techno-electronic supportive infrastructure at the educational foundation of learning in both process and content. This infrastructure extends throughout the entire spectrum of conventional curricula placing at the disposal of students all the up-to-date electronic means and methods of learning. In this sense, without violating or contradicting conventional curriculum, the CYBER method enriches and upgrades school curricula, in preparation for the emerging 21st century.