by James L. Morrison and David G. Brown // Faculty and Staff Development
In our Faculty and Staff Development feature, editor James Morrison interviews David G. Brown, vice president and dean of the International Center for Computer Enhanced Learning at Wake Forest University. Brown discusses current faculty development initiatives at Wake Forest, and addresses how such initiatives can be implemented in an effective fashion by administrators. Of particular importance, he notes, is an emphasis on practical teaching strategies rather than theory, a recognition of the specific needs of different disciplines, and a flexible, convenient support system that encourages free innovation by faculty members.
by Linda P. Domanski // Case Studies
Linda P. Domanski, in our first Case Study, describes her work with Westminster College's Teaching with Technology Made Simple (TWTMS) program. Designed to enhance computer skills and to promote classroom applications of information technology, the program offers on-site workshop sessions to K-12 teachers in western Pennsylvania. After outlining the initial recruitment of participating schools and the selection of hardware, Domanski discusses the workshops themselves: their organization, their typical activities, and the adjustments they required from workshop leaders. By providing teachers with a convenient, personalized form of technology training, the TWTMS program serves as a positive example of how universities can support professional development in their local school districts.
by Mary Cyr // Case Studies
The expansion of distance education has entailed a greater sense of how its distinctive qualities can serve to promote active student learning across a range of disciplines. Mary Cyr's Case Study focuses on how she adopted an online format for a music appreciation course. Through its online conferencing and tutorials, as well as course assignments that incorporate Internet research, group activities, and virtual discussion of special topics, Cyr's Masterworks of Music course employs technology to enhance student involvement in the world of classical music. Aside from its role as a medium of active, collaborative learning, her account also sounds another classic leitmotif of online educationits easy adaptability to the schedule demands of its participants.
by Lance Crocker // Case Studies
In our third Case Study, Lance Crocker gives an account of his use of a course management system (CMS) for an online course in hotel and restaurant management. Crocker notes that in his case, the online component of the course was well-suited for providing conceptual information regarding the industry, whereas students could then gain practical, hands-on experience through internships at specific locations. By fostering a self-directed form of learning, and by providing more flexible, one-on-one interaction between instructor and student, the online course allowed him to serve as "a mentor to the learning process, not the center of the learning process." As the positive results of this course have influenced other programs, Crocker's experience suggests how online learning can support job training within a range of different industries.
by John R. McBride // Case Studies
What does online course design have to offer for the instruction of a college course in general chemistry? John R. McBride, in our final Case Study, answers this question with a revealing look at the course he taught using WebCT and Archipelago CD-ROM resources. Through the marriage of the two, McBride was not only able to offer specialized learning modules and online tests, but also enhanced the course with PowerPoint slides, lecture archives in streaming audio, discussion forums, and a range of other features. Moreover, as the in-class offering of the same course also drew upon these resources, he was able to synchronize the two to achieve comparable results in both formats. Through these online tools, McBride observes, course content can be delivered in a more diverse, effective manner to both traditional and online students.
by Janna Siegel Robertson // Commentary
Janna Siegel Robertson's Commentary gives an overview of current federal guidelines regarding the accessibility of Web sites to individuals with disabilities. While they only apply to federal agencies, these guidelineswhich encompass such varied elements as color design, image maps, flicker rates, scripting languages, and plug-insoffer a comprehensive account of how Web authors can adjust their design to accommodate individuals who use assistive devices. In addition, Robertson provides a list of resources (including tutorials, consulting agencies, and specialized software tools), all of which would be of value to designers who seek to promote greater access in their Web sites.
by Susan Hussein // Commentary
Susan Hussein, in our second Commentary feature, argues that course management systems offer vital alternatives for addressing recurrent challenges in teaching and learning. Her discussion here focuses on three problems: how to monitor student progress, how to address common obstacles to learning, and how to provide prompt, supportive feedback to course exercises. As she outlines her teaching strategies, Hussein illustrates how this technological tool can become a catalyst for creative solutions.
by Kenneth Paul A. S.-S. Tan // Tools
Kenneth Paul A.S.-S. Tan of the University of Singapore tells about his experiences with Storyspace, a hypertext writing Tool with exciting possibilities. Tan has used Storyspace to enrich a course called Thinking About Politics, enabling students to interact with texts on multiple levels. Storyspace enables users to produce hypertext documents including secondary narratives, annotations, pictures, and diagrams. Tan wrote his course material as hypertext documents to emphasize the inter-connectedness of the discipline and subdisciplines of politics, pointing also to the ways in which political science borrows from and contributes to other intellectual disciplines. He then led his students in discussions through Storyspace, revealing parallels, contradictions, and ironies that challenged conventional wisdom.
by Stephen Downes // Spotlight Site
In our Spotlight Site feature, Stephen Downes introduces Technology Source readers to Britain's e-Learning Centre, a site that offers a broad spectrum of e-learning resources and research. Divided into specialized areas of interest, the e-Learning Centre provides selective listings of current sites and tools, direct access to articles and reviews, links to vendors, illustrations of particular applications of educational technology, and other sources of information for experts and novices alike. In doing so, the site is a worthy point of reference for educators who seek to broaden their horizons in e-learning, and to gain a comprehensive, timely understanding of this rapidly changing field.