by Darrell L. Butler // Faculty and Staff Development
Darrell Butler leads off this issue with an account of Faculty and Staff Development at the grassroots level. At Ball State University, a small cadre of professors is spearheading the integration of information technology into teaching and learning. Organized not by administrative initiatives but by a common interest in technology's role in teaching and learning, members of this unique group represent disciplines across campus and meet regularly to discuss the theoretical issues and practical applications of technology in education. Butler's article provides the background for the three case studies in this issue, all of which were written by members of Ball State's faculty technology group.
by Susan Tancock // Case Studies
In the first Case Study, an education professor describes her use of the Web to showcase creative student ideas and archive them for general use by the wider academic community. Susan Tancock, who teaches a course on literary methods for preservice teachers, always encouraged her students to develop and share best practices in literacy education. Until recently, she recorded these practices in a single, limited location: a traditional notebook accessible only during class and computer lab hours. As she designed her first course Web site, Tancock realized the potential for an electronic repository that would give preservice and practicing teachers alike immediate, 24-hour access to a wealth of education resources. Read on to find out how she transformed that standard notebook into an online database and how her students augment it each semester, not only though the generation of ideas but also through hands-on construction of their own Web pages.
by William Bauer // Case Studies
In the second Case Study, William Bauer not only gives TS readers a look at the use of Internet technology in music education, he also provides a good summary of how computer technology can enhance learning in the traditional, face-to-face classroom. Bauer has carefully integrated some of the Internet's most common and useful tools in his courses in music education, yielding a well-reasoned balance between traditional and computer-based teaching practices, a refresher for those seeking to improve their classroom teaching.
by Darrell L. Butler // Case Studies
In the third Case Study, Darrell Butler describes how he uses computer technology when he teaches large lecture classes. Butler has formulated an innovative strategy: he assigns students personal learning projects, providing a means to employ student-centered pedagogies in an instructor-centered course. As a result, computer technology can help students with many aspects of the projects and it reduces Butler's workload.
by James L. Morrison and Jeanne C. Meister // Commentary
James Morrison's interview with Jeanne Meister is an excellent Commentary on the state of corporate e-learning, its advantages, its challenges, and its future. Corporate universities, educational organizations that develop the competencies of employees, suppliers, and even customers, are innovative, flexible, and increasingly important, Meister argues. She highlights a number of their best practices, including the "apportionment" of learning, learner control of curricula, and the combination of synchronous and asynchronous components, and points to a future in which corporate universities will increase their ties to traditional universities, leverage their knowledge to customers, and become involved in elementary and high school education.
by Thomas A. Marino // Commentary
Thomas A. Marino has the following Commentary for instructors considering developing information technology tools for teaching and learning: look before you leap. Marino points out that a number of pitfalls await those who head down this path, from scarce hardware, software, and funding to a lack of support from administration, faculty, and students. Ultimately, Marino believes that IT tools help students learn, but the choice to use these tools involves a number of risksespecially for untenured faculty membersthat Marino carefully points out in his insightful essay.
by Robert M. Burnside // Commentary
Robert Burnside's Commentary on the state of e-learning in corporate and university education is bound to raise some eyebrows. Burnside, the research director of Corporate University Xchange, argues that corporations, technology providers, and traditional and online universities should bury the hatchet and agree to work together to provide the education and training needs of today's working adult learners. Citing examples of successful collaboration, Burnside notes that "our current best hope is to seek collaboration among partners who once viewed each other as competitors, but who can gain much by working together."
by Peshe C. Kuriloff // Commentary
Peshe Kuriloff suspects that the "one size fits all" approach to e-learning employed by course management systems actually hinders effective teaching. Course management systems, argues Kuriloff, threaten the unity and individual identity of custom-designed course materials, contain embedded assumptions about pedagogy to which instructors must conform, and constrain innovation. In sum, "they present a threat to future innovations in teaching and learning." Kuriloff's penetrating Commentary is another chapter in the debate over these systems.
by Rich Cummins // Tools
Internet users frustrated with the performance of conventional search engines might want to check out the Tools described by Rich Cummins: "searchbots" that return specific, useful hits for Internet queries. Unlike regular search engines, searchbots, downloadable programs available for free or a modest fee, search within defined parameters and in specific sections of the Web. Most also summarize the results of a search in a Web page or bibliography that can be saved along with the search string. All in all, says Cummins, this more advanced way of searching saves researchers and casual surfers alike time and energy.
by Stephen Downes // Spotlight Site
Shared courseware, made available by publishers for use in online courses, is not a topic of much conversation in the academic community. Stephen Downes thinks it should be. In this issue, he focuses the Technology Source Spotlight on XanEdu.com, one of the leaders in custom online content development. XanEdu provides full-text books and articles ready for publishing in online course packs. As Downes points out, "XanEdu solves one of the problems facing online learning: the capacity to provide articles and resources to online students." However, he also notes that fees are charged to students and paid to publishers, an arrangement that leaves him wondering about where authors stand. For more about the pros and cons of this arrangement, read on.