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Tech Savvy Youth – Korea’s Efforts to Create a New Wired Generation

Given its vocationally oriented background (i.e. education for employment in a given sector), Sunrin High School might seem an unlikely visionary for a twenty-first century education system.  However, the Seoul-based high school – which has around 80 teachers and 1,000 students – has come to represent the future of interactive educational training in Korea.  While it’s not the only Internet-enabled high school in Korea, Sunrin was designated the country’s first “Internet high school” in 2000. Two E1 (2 Mbit/s) connections, provided by the government, connect the school’s more than 600 computers to the global information network where students have access to a variety of Web management, e-commerce and multimedia design resources.  Additionally, teachers have made their published textbooks (approximately 15 publications) and other background materials available to students in electronic format, thus reducing the need for the students to bring books to class.  The content, which includes a variety of multimedia tools, allows students to expand their understanding of the Internet, while learning from a variety of unconventional resources (e.g. graphic design from Japanese Manga cartoons). 

Building on the Korean government’s vision for universal computer-based education at all levels that began in 1970, the Sunrin Internet High School is structured in a way that prepares students for a variety of information age professions.  For example, the Department of Web-Managing gives students the skills necessary to become a Web master, while the Multimedia Design Department prepares them for a career as a digital animator.  Some of the key in-class Internet applications include digital art design, foreign language lessons, and music production, among others.  While Sunrin is helping to create a new cadre of IT and Internet literate students, the initiative is also helping to get teachers more involved in ICT-centric education, specifically as it relates to the development of educational software.   

Despite its revolutionary educational design, Sunrin, a pillar of quality instruction, first introduced computers into the curriculum in 1982.  While it is still too early to determine the effectiveness of the Internet-based educational model in use since 2000, it is clear that the training is attracting attention from some of Korea’s well-known businesses.  For instance, the CEO of a local education software design firm recently visited the school searching for partnerships and potential employees.  Moreover, Sunrin has also established relationships with key industries in Korea for job training, which creates a virtual work environment for students.  Some of the students are already creating businesses and career networks on the side.  Among other benefits, the Internet-enabled classroom allows both students and teachers to adapt to the ever-changing digital environment. 

While only the second of its kind in the world, the Sunrin Internet High School represents the movement away from conventional teaching methods and towards a new educational environment focused on creating future digital generations.  As more countries build out their communications networks and embrace the educational power of the Internet, more students throughout Korea will be afforded the opportunity to expand their digital horizons, and the conception of knowledge will be further redefined.  Together with the government, the Korea Education & Research Information Service (KERIS) and the private sector, Sunrin is enhancing Korea’s already tech savvy cyber society.  

For additional information on the Sunrin initiative, click here

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