by Albert Ip and Roni Linser // Assessment
Albert Ip and Roni Linser offer their Assessment of a Web-based role-play model that they use to teach their world politics class at the University of Melbourne. By virtually filling the shoes of various local statesmen, world leaders, and media figures, students experience politics hands-on, an approach that Ip and Linser believe fosters long-term retention. In addition to challenging students to take responsibility for tough diplomatic issues, the model offers opportunities for creativity and enjoyment. As Ip and Linser explain, "the increase of fun and playfulness, which enhance student motivation, justifies the effort."
by John W. Hibbs // Commentary
John Hibbs discusses the importance of maximizing technology use in his Commentary on the format of distance education conferences. Hibbs shares an illuminating fantasy with readers: a chat with a kingpin in distance education who defends face-to-face conferences. But with a $3,000 cost per attendee, double that for international attendees, Hibbs contends, "Something about this story doesn't seem quite right." He reminds us that up-to-date technology can make conferences, much like classrooms, cost-effective, efficient, and accessible to all.
by Stephen Downes // Commentary
Stephen Downes takes Hibbs's argument a step further, arguing in this issue's second Commentary that the approach to conferences Hibbs describes is representative of a deeper attitude: a general discrediting of online discourse, even among distance education professionals. To Downes, the hypocrisy is that "while distance educators talk about online learning as inclusive and empowering, their practice remains exclusive and disempowering."
by Ellen Chaffee // Commentary
While technological advances are revolutionizing distance education, Ellen Chaffee cautions against overlooking the importance of universal access. In this issue's third Commentary, she explains, "Rather than viewing technology as a tool for delivery, like an interactive video system, we can view technology as a tool for learning, like a textbook or problem set." She cites improved student and faculty experiences at Valley City State University and Mayville State University as evidence for the successes of universal access, emphasizing that those successes are well worth additional costs.
by Diann Schindler-Ender // Commentary
Like the authors of our Assessment article, Diann Schindler-Ender calls for greater interaction on the Web. In our fourth Commentary, Schindler-Ender argues that the human resource shortage faced by many institutions means that their future success hinges on the ability to attract skilled and competent candidates. The way to tackle this potential employment crisis, she emphasizes, is to take the job search process to the Web, following the examples of business and industry. She concludes that "online employee recruitment promises an easy, cost-efficient, and effective tool for addressing a fast-approaching human resource crisis."
by Joel Foreman // Case Studies
Joel Foreman has much experience with the world of distance education. In his Case Study of WebCT, a course management system (CMS), Foreman discloses the current benefits and disadvantages of the system, suggesting improvements that may encourage more teachers to use a CMS in their courses. Foreman predicts that, like farmers trading mules for tractors, teachers' adoption of improved course management systems represents a new era in instruction.
by Grover C. Furr III // Case Studies
In our second Case Study, Grover Furr discusses Internet technology in the classroom, sharing his insight into teaching using streaming audio. The technology allows Furr's and others' lectures to be accessible outside of class, encouraging further study of the material and making time in class more active. Overall, Furr explains, "With this simple and cheap streaming audio technology, I can use all of my class time to enhance student-centered, interactive education."
by Ann Luck // Faculty and Staff Development
In Faculty and Staff Development, Ann Luck takes Technology Source readers for another visit to Penn State's World Campus to share the online course development process. Those who remember last spring's case study, in which Luck first introduced this exciting distance learning program, will be eager to learn how World Campus faculty and staff create their courses in a team environment and to read Luck's advice for avoiding common pitfalls. Those who didn't catch last spring's article won't want to miss out again.
by Stephen Downes // Spotlight Site
This issue's Spotlight shines on "JURIST: The Legal Education Network," a site with a plethora of resources for those interested in legal studies. As Stephen Downes reveals, the site is a must-view for students, professors, librarians, and practicing lawyers alike. It offers extensive material on conferences, books and articles, law schools, bar exams, current laws and legislation, and job openings. Check out Downes's article and see why he calls it "probably the best educational portal on the Internet today."
by John C. Dutton // Tools
Sometimes traditional numerical, multiple-choice, or fill-in-the-blank questioning drills just can't be beat when it comes to promoting and assessing student learning. Yet educators must weigh the advantages of such assignments against the tedious hours required to grade individual exercises. Often, too much time on paperwork means too little time for creative lesson planning and meaningful interaction with students. John C. Dutton has a solution to this problem: WebAssign, which he touts as "a better homework delivery Tool"better, that is, not only at delivering questions to students, but also at grading their responses and providing them with instant feedback, freeing teachers' time for what really matters.