Interactive class

How to Go From Class-Room to Web-Room as Painlessly as Possible
By Rik Hall, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Getting your course onto the World Wide Web (WWW) is best done using a systematic approach. There are a number of steps that need to be taken prior to starting any of the actual web work. Meetings should be held with various groups within your institution. Once the actual coursework is begun, there are some essential components and some optional components. There are specific skills and talents that you either need to acquire or you need to access. Each web-based course is unique, but they often have many components in common. Some are essential, others may be optional. Resources can be found on your campus, from the many web companies and from the web itself.

World Wide Web, WWW, Distance Education, HTML, Web-Based Instruction
The number of degree credit courses available on the World Wide Web (WWW) has increased at the same astonishing rate as other activities on the WWW. There are some specific steps that can be taken that will help to transport the professor from the idea stage to the delivery of a course over the WWW. Also, just like any other educational technology, web-based instruction works better for some situations than others. Web-based instruction is useful when you want to create a virtual environment which is not easily or, perhaps, safely accessible. An example is sending learners to a virtual nuclear lab or on a “virtual tour” of the Louver in Paris.
Web-based instruction it allows learners to gain knowledge and skill more effectively than traditional methods. Simply transferring material such as lecture notes to the web is not using the technology to its best advantage. Lengthy text such as lecture notes are, in fact, best printed because most learners experience eye strain and sensory disinterest reading long passages of text on a screen. Some specific situations tend to lend themselves to web-based instruction.
You want to encourage communication through conferencing. Through internet conferencing learners may participate in discussions or group work with one another with or without the participation of the instructor. Role plays, simulations of historical events and debates are also examples of how learning can be facilitated through the conferencing option.

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You want learners to use “source documents” to complete assignments such as conducting an analysis or designing a project. These source documents may not be readily available to learners or perhaps, based on the assignment, will not be equally significant to all the learners.
For example, you may ask learners to research and analyze issues pertaining to Canadian elections. To complete the assignment, various learners may access archived information such as newspaper and journal articles which specifically relate to their particular interest or point of view.
One example is a site operated by the University of Victoria (http://web.uvic.ca/history robinson/index.html) which contains letters, maps, biographies and newspaper articles about the murder of William Robinson committed on Saltspring Island in 1868. The information at the site allows learners and the public to pursue their research as they please and to access original documents which are not generally available. Individuals are free to interpret the meaning of the documents and reach their own conclusions.

You want to provide maximum flexibility to allow learners to undertake learning and research in the order which best suits them. Because the web allows learners to “move around” at will, they do not need to follow a structured hierarchy. Generally learners need and want some direction but the web allows a more flexible approach.
You want learners to pool data and/or analysis to find patterns and trends or to undertake further study.

For a starting point and to keep us on track in this paper, I will discuss degree credit courses delivered by the University of New Brunswick. I will assume that for your case there is ready WWW web access for the professor as well as web access for students. Again, for consistency, I expect my students to have at least Netscape 3 (or its equivalent), their own internet service provider (ISP), and the skills necessary to access the WWW. These are my starting points – but most concepts discussed will transfer across institutional lines.

There a number of things that you should do before you begin to do any coding, contracting or late night computer hacking. There are meetings to setup, there is paper work to be done and decisions to be made. Then, and only then, do you get to “play” with the computer.
I would advise that you consider the following meetings as part of your endeavors. They will help you set the ground rules, help you avoid some of the mine-fields, and start you off on a working relationship with groups that can be either wonderful allies or formidable combatants, and hopefully help keep you on track as you work towards a finished product.
6.2.1 Your initial meeting with your own department
I feel it is imperative for any relationship you and your delivering agency (Department of Extension, Continuing Education or “University of the World”) to start with a good relationship with your own department.

In this meeting you may need to get the approval of the supervisors of your department to be able to deliver in something other than the traditional face to face, on campus mode. Those in authority may have to guarantee the academic support for some period after the first start of delivery of the course (at UNB, the period is three years).

At the University of New Brunswick, instructors delivering courses through the Department of Extension are recommended by the faculties. This is something you might also wish to discuss with your own department at this time. It is often assumed that the person(s) developing a course will be the one(s) that wish to teach the course and the one(s) that the faculty will appoint to teach the course. This is not always the case.

You should also discuss possible sources of help for the development of your course. There are times when stipend relief may be available from various sources. There may also be funds available from other agencies.

6.2.2 Your first meeting with your delivering agency
Having gained the approval of your faculty, you should next meet with your delivering agency. In this meeting, you should discuss the ways that they can help you in the development of your course. They may also share with you what they know about possible funding sources.

As Web-based learning is different from regular face-to-face lecture learning, they will want you to make use of good instructional design methodologies. This is often an area where they can help. Here are some items you may wish to discuss at that meeting:
a. possible methods of web-based delivery for your course,
b. method of payment to the instructor,
c. ancillary support materials and their delivery to the students,
d. how the materials, assignments, marks and communications flow between parties
g. on-going checkpoint meetings with your delivering agency.
At regularly scheduled intervals, you should meet with your delivering agency as they will wish to monitor the development of the course. Your delivering agency should be checking with you to:
* keep abreast of your time lines. They need this to be able to best market your course and to see that it receives the coverage it deserves,
* ensure the consistency of an Academia “look and feel”
* ensure the consistency of any standards for web-based courseware development (for an example, please see http://www.unb.ca/home/webinfo/guide.html)
* keep abreast of your needs and successes.

These meetings are intended to insure the standards and formats consistent with the delivery of your institute’s courses, and should in no way be an attempt to interfere with your teaching.

There is an ongoing debate as to whether one should do all or some of the web work oneself, or if the work should be jobbed out. I enjoy working with the web, I have instructional design training and have been involved in courseware development for quite a few years and so, as long as I have more time than financial resources, I will do the work myself. There are many very good professional agencies that can be contracted to produce courseware for you. These agencies can be contracted to do a wide range of the jobs necessary to complete any type of web-based application. There are probably agencies within your institution who specialize in instructional design and courseware development. These units should be consulted. For certain areas of the development that you do yourself, you will need some specific skills.

You will need to be very familiar with these or will need access to people who are and can do these aspects of the job for you.

7.1.1.1 HyperText Markup Language – HTML
Stands for HyperText Markup Language, and on a scale of one to ten, learning the basics of HTML is about a three. The web is a great resource (see the Resource list below), and there are a plethora of good books on the subject. I keep the most current version of Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML in a Week by Laura Lemay near my computer. As with all aspects of the WWW, the print support is changing constantly, but the most recent edition is usually the best.

Again, there a large number of excellent resources and my favorite is Jerry Kemp’s The Instructional Design Process (New York: Harper & Row, 1985). It is however, out of print, and this is one case where I do think the next edition was not as good as the first. Another good choice is, Robert Branch’s Common Instructional Design Practices Employed by Secondary School Teachers, Educational Technology, 34, (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications, 1995).

The more familiar you become with HTML, the more you will be able to enhance your course’s web site. This can be a good thing, and it can also be not so good. Adding components and extra “bells and whistles” to your web site should be done as a conscious choice to support your educational objectives and not just because the “bells and whistles” are there.

Stands for Common Gateway Interface and is the coding that allows the information collected from forms on webs sites to be manipulated. This can be as simple as allowing students to send specific assignments to you, or can be as elaborate as on-line registration.

Every Web-delivered course will have a number of components. These will vary depending upon your needs, your style and the degree of interactivity in the course. There are some components that should be part of your site, in order to make the course appealing to your customer. I feel that some components of a web-based course are essential and others are optional.

These can be divided into static and dynamic.

These components change very little. They can be put on your web site and only updated as needed.

This will often come directly from your University calendar.

This can be as informal or as formal as you like. What kind of first impression do you wish to make? How much do you wish to add? Do you wish to link to your own personal Web site (if you have one)?
Again, this can often come from your university calendar. It is always a good point to specify any particular computing hardware, software or skills that will be required for students to be able to take your course.

Here is a nice place to put a scanned cover of the text – along with the ISBN, the publisher and all of the information needed for your potential students to acquire this text. Here is a good place to put a link to your institute’s bookstore – assuming it has a web site.

This is where you put as much information as you can about how students can reach you. Will you have office hours? Virtual office hours? Can they reach you via Email? How do they reach each other? Is there a listserv, a secure server?
Students all seem to want to know what they have to do to get a mark. This is a good place to tell them about assignments, quizzes, mid-terms and finals, and any other expectations you have of them.

These components may change often. They might be updated, or supplemented once a week or every few days.

This gets used much more in the first part of the class. As the class gets “into it” this seems to be used less frequently.

These can be placed on the web site before the class begins for all assignments, or can become readable at given times or as new assignments are given.

These are the actual components of the web site that allow interactivity in the course. The real power of the WWW is global communication. And this is what makes web-based courses so exciting. Your course’s communications may include any number of the following:
These use standard Email to allow all members of the class to send and receive messages from any other member of the class, including the instructor. Messages are automatically sent to all of the individual’s personal Email addresses.

These are places where people can interact. Student-to-student, student-to-teacher and teacher-to-student or teacher to the entire class. These are sections on the web that students go to and are able to read messages and participate in on-line, asynchronous ‘conversations.’
7.2.1.2.6 Interactive ‘real time’ two-way audio or video
There are numerous pieces of software available now that allow desktop two-way video and audio. These tend to require very high bandwidth, and because they are ‘real-time’ they require the participating parties to all be on the web at the same time.

This is a place where your marking scheme can be listed. It is also a place where you can post marks or assignments in (if you have a secure server that only your class can access).

As each week progresses, or just prior to each week’s work, students may need to have the equivalent of lecture notes to supplement what is covered in the text book, or what has been assigned on the web. Some web software will allow you to put the all the notes on the web site – and as certain dates arrive, students then have access to the notes.

These may be essential, depending upon your requirements.

These may be as sound files (.WAV or .AU), audio streaming (Real Audio, Soundstream, Shockwave) or MIDI files.

These may be as animated .GIFs, QuickTime, Shockwave or Java applications.

7.2.2.3 Quizzes, especially “self-correcting” quizzes
These may be as part of a web educational software (WebCT) or can be developed by yourself or your institution.

These may be as included as text pages or may be referenced to other sites. This is one area where copyright can really come into play. The cost of clearing copyright on a set of Harvard business case studies can be out of the question.

These may be as QuickTime video or may be done with the new Real Video that allows real-time video streaming.

These will allow you to maintain and provide access to databases over the web.

These may be as simple as step-by-step instructions for any topic with branching provided to additional sites. They can also be we intelligent tutorials with on-line interactive testing.

An “open server” will allow anyone, anywhere on the web to access your information.

A “secure server” will only allow persons with some type of authorization code to access your information.

(This list does not constitute an endorsement on anyone’s part. These resources are a jumping off points to help you get your course on the web.) Please do not overlook the many resources on your own campus.
This site has links to courses, resources, helper sites that aid you in choosing which type and format of media to use, sites that check your HTML for errors or idiosyncrasies, and much more.

http://www.unb.ca/web/wwwdev/resources.html
8.2 Conferences, on-line or face-to-face
NAWeb ’98 – The Virtual Campus (October 3-6, 1998). This international conference is in its fourth year. It is intended solely for those developing courseware for delivery on the WWW or for those delivering courseware over the WWW.
http://www.unb.ca/web/wwwdev/naweb98/
8.3 Books, listservs and associations
Badrul Khan’s Web-Based Instruction (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications, 1997) is quite good.

I host the WWWDEV listserv. This listserv hosts the NAWeb conferences, and has 1400 members from around the world – developing for delivery over the WWW or actually delivering courseware over the WWW.
The DEOSNEWS listserv is involved in all aspects of distance education. You can join that one by sending this message
DEOS-L is a service provided to the Distance Education community by The American Center for the Study of Distance Education, The Pennsylvania State University. Opinions expressed are those of DEOS-L subscribers, and do not constitute endorsement of any opinion, product, or service by ACSDE or Penn State.

The Canadian Association for Distance Education (CADE) can often help
The Association for Media and Technology in Education – Canada (AMTEC) is another favorite of mine.
Use every and any resource you can. Join groups for support, and support others in similar projects. This is a rapidly emerging field, and it is evolving and growing just as fast as it is emerging.

Here is where you add ideas you pick up at the conference.


Bibliography:
This site has links to courses, resources, helper sites that aid you in choosing which type and format of media to use, sites that check your HTML for errors or idiosyncrasies, and much more.

http://www.unb.ca/web/wwwdev/resources.html
8.2 Conferences, on-line or face-to-face
NAWeb ’98 – The Virtual Campus (October 3-6, 1998). This international conference is in its fourth year. It is intended solely for those developing courseware for delivery on the WWW or for those delivering courseware over the WWW.
http://www.unb.ca/web/wwwdev/naweb98/
8.3 Books, listservs and associations
Badrul Khan’s Web-Based Instruction (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications, 1997) is quite good.

I host the WWWDEV listserv. This listserv hosts the NAWeb conferences, and has 1400 members from around the world – developing for delivery over the WWW or actually delivering courseware over the WWW.
http://www.unb.ca/web/wwwdev/
The DEOSNEWS listserv is involved in all aspects of distance education. You can join that one by sending this message
SUBSCRIBE DEOSNEWS your name
to
emailprotected
This is who and what they are:
DEOS-L is a service provided to the Distance Education community by The American Center for the Study of Distance Education, The Pennsylvania State University. Opinions expressed are those of DEOS-L subscribers, and do not constitute endorsement of any opinion, product, or service by ACSDE or Penn State.

The Canadian Association for Distance Education (CADE) can often help
http://www.cade-aced.ca/
The Association for Media and Technology in Education – Canada (AMTEC) is another favorite of mine.
http://www.camosun.bc.ca/amtec/
Use every and any resource you can. Join groups for support, and support others in similar projects. This is a rapidly emerging field, and it is evolving and growing just as fast as it is emerging.

8.4 Other
Here is where you add ideas you pick up at the conference.

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