Methods to Enhance Classroom Learning on the World Wide Web
Michael A. Russell
Note that this document may be viewed on the World Wide Web:
II. Project Goals and TLC Directives
III. Criteria for the Evaluation of Project Goals
IV. Sharing Results with Colleagues
V. Timeline for Completion
VI. Grant Budget Summary
VII. Personal Comment
This proposal has been divided into the following goals:
Dynamic Project Goals
Other Project Goals
Dynamic goals indicate a modality where direct interactivity with the student is facilitated - the student can input their data and see the immediate result. Other goals use both interactive and passive modalities to facilitate student learning.
Each proposal shall be discussed separately.
How often have most instructors wondered what their students were "really thinking" on some subject of importance? The Discus Bulletin Board System is a tool to allow you to find out, to see what makes your students "tick" and to get their opinions on any subject you wish to broach.
Discus is available for free at http://www.chem.hope.edu/discus/. Installation is straightforward, but it does require some knowledge of Web CGI scripting (CGI = common gateway interface). Once installed, the "administrator" (usually the professor) can post questions concerning a variety of topics, and students can respond to the question. Students can post anonymously is they wish, allowing for safety if a topic is particularly susceptible to conflict.
I am attempting to integrate Discus into my classroom activities, making it a part of my curriculum. I hope to discover the opinions of my students in a non-threatening medium through Discus, and I believe it has great promise.
Students using the capabilities of the Web for learning need passive learning tools as well as the dynamic learning tools discussed above. In addition to posting an "Internet Syllabus", the Web-savvy instructor can post handouts, summaries, lecture notes, sample quizzes, quiz answers, grades, and more on the Web using simple editing tools. Methods to facilitate such a transition from paper-based products to electronically transferred Web documents will be outlined, and several hints will be offered on how to avoid common pitfalls in this area.
With a world population exceeding 6 billion, we must conserve resources more than ever before if we are to maintain a standard of living decent to the next generation. In this spirit, I am developing a methodology for students to submit papers and laboratory reports electronically using Microsoft Word 97's built-in editing tools. The instructor can add comments, replace text and awkward prose, highlight key topics and even score the paper at the end using the protocol I am developing. Both Macintosh and PC versions of Word are accepted, and students using non-Word 97 can output their text as RTF (rich text format) or Word 6.0 with minimal compromise.
If students in your classes have experienced limited exposure to the Internet, you may wish to provide a self-guided tutorial for them to learn about the mysteries and capabilities of the World Wide Web. I am developing a tutorial that addresses these concerns and allows the student to learn the basic foundations of contemporary Internet culture with minimal discomfort. The tutorial can be offered as a graded exercise or a self-guided worksheet depending on the needs of the instructor. The details of this project will be discussed and explained, and an example of the tutorial will be included in the report.
Directive #1, "Developing and sustaining a system supportive of effective teaching and learning, with the emphasis on student learning", is followed absolutely in each of the project goals listed above. The Web offers student learning in methodologies unparalleled within the history of teaching. Student opportunities for learning can be increased dramatically using the dynamic methods of on-line quiz and tutorial testing. These methods are non-threatening (no student outcomes are provided to the instructor) and facilitate an "experimenting arena" for the students to explore the depth of their knowledge without the formality of a quiz or exam (and its academic penalties).
Directive #2, "Ensuring that effective teaching and learning methods supported by the TLC have broad application and are disseminated throughout the MHCC teaching and learning community", will be followed closely as well. All of my protocols and instructions are available free of charge to any learning community that wishes them, be they from Mt. Hood Community College or elsewhere. I will be sharing my results with my colleagues through a written paper, a web site (http://www.gst-d2l.com/TLC) and possibly a presentation on the MHCC campus. I am always available for comment and questions.
During the last week of Fall Term 1999 I will be distributing a Feedback form to my students asking for their comments and opinions on the various programs instituted via the Internet. Results will be available by early 2000. In addition, I shall seek the feedback of my colleagues who have utilized these protocols for their own use.
A presentation will be arranged as early as Winter Term 2000 to interested faculty and staff regarding the various doctrines explained in the "Project Goals" section, above. A formal paper outlining the specific details of the project shall be created and distributed to interested parties. A web site for my proposal (http://www.gst-d2l.com/TLC) will contain these documents as well as any other pertinent information. In addition, I can always be reached for personal consultation either through electronic mail (email@example.com) or telephone (503 491 7348).
All of the plans outlined in the Project Goals section will be complete by January 31, 2000. The results of the project will be available for colleagues by mid-February 2000.
I appreciate your time in considering my request. If I can answer any questions that this paper does not address, please feel free to contact me using the information given below. Thank you for your time,
Michael Russell, Ph.D.
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