7.0639 E-Mail for Course Delivery (1/108)

Thu, 5 May 1994 23:47:57 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0639. Thursday, 5 May 1994.

Date: Thu, 05 May 1994 14:45:33 -0400 (EDT)
From: Prof Norm Coombs <NRCGSH@RITVAX.BITNET>
Subject: Using e-mail delivery for distance course content

During the past few months, I have explored the use of e-mail as a
course delivery system. I have been active in distance learning with
the use of CMC (computer mediated communication) for at least a decade,
but previously I have always used computer conference systems. Such
systems permit the use of several topics with the reader selecting a
topic and following that thread. I had avoided e-mail because, instead
of providing a two-dimension matrix access, it is entirely linear. I
felt that such a system would jumble discussions of various topics into
one single stream resulting in chaos.

The danger is there, but by spacing the broadcast of topics by a
few days, and by encouraging participants to work hard to stay current,
it worked better than I thought.

Why use an inferior system? Well, we wanted to reach the maximum,
potential audience including members from fidonet and other systems
without the possibility of having a telnet access to something more
sophisticated. We (Rochester Institute of Technology and EASI: Equal
Access to Software and Information) offered an online non-credit course
on how to make the computing and information technology systems of
schools, organizations and businesses more accessible to persons with
physical disabilities. At least, it worked and let us reach out to many
participants in k-12 and from across the ocean. Below is a reprint of
an article about our project.
** Note: we will send an announcement to this list in a very few days
announcing the next presentation on June 8. Watch for a subject line
about disability access workshop.......
Norman Coombs nrcgsh@rit.edu

Adapt-it Workshop
Reproduced with permission from
Rochester Institute of Technology

Current attendees of an on-line workshop are "surfing the Internet" to
participate in "Adapt-it: Adapting Information Technology & Computing,"
targeting access to information for the disabled or challenged. Spurred on by
the American Disabilities Act, access for the disabled has become a sizzling
issue among academic, government, and business facilities around the world.
Attended by academic administrators and disabilities advocates in industry and
business, the current session began April 4 and includes 75 participants
hailing from Germany, Spain, Thailand, Australia, Canada, and more than 25
states in the U.S.

The workshop is being presented as a collaborative effort between Norman
Coombs, an RIT history professor who is visually impaired and Chairman of Equal
Access to Software & Information (EASI); Richard Banks, a visually impaired
adaptive technologist with the University of Wisconsin-Stout's library who
serves as moderator for EASI's AXSLIB1 (the leading Internet discussion list
on library and adaptive technology for persons with disabilities); and RIT's
Educational Technology Center. It is supported by net work resources provided
by Information Systems and Computing.

Run on a quarterly basis, the first workshop was offered January 31 through
February 12, at a cost of $99 per person. With an enrollment of 75 members from
Canada, Great Britain, Puerto Rico, and the U.S., the initial workshop ran two
weeks. The content included:

o Reasons to Adapt

o Legislative History

o Americans with Disabilities Act

o Lab Environment

o Alternate Output Systems

o Alternate Input Systems

o Computing as Compensatory Devices

o Planning and Funding

o Review and Other Resources

Designed to be accessible at the lowest connecting common denominator, Dr.
Coombs chose e-mail to deliver the workshop. "I had always thought that a
single stream discussion wouldn't work." Delighted to be proven wrong, e-mail
allowed attendees from K-12, businesses, libraries, and Fidonet (a bulletin
board that shakes hands in the middle of the night and trades messages) to
connect. For the majority of participants it was their first on-line course.

Heralded as "extremely successful," by Dr. Coombs, the producers of the
workshop were stunned by the glowing comments they received in their
post-workshop evaluations. "Well worth both the time and money spent." "This
course was a great opportunity." "This has been a great workshop. I have gotten
so many new resources to tap ..." "I thoroughly enjoyed the content, format,
and instructors. I learned a great deal more than I expected to." "The format
was a little fast-paced. I... really had to scramble to kee p up."

Sensitive to the pleas of too heavy a schedule, the time frame has been
extended to three weeks and the review lesson has been dropped. Subsequent
workshops will be offered in June and September at a cost of $99. Information
is available electronically by sending a message to
listserv@listserver.isc.rit.edu with one line of text saying: info workshop.
For additional information or registration contact Susan Warner, Educational
Technology Center, 716-475-7186 or SMWETC@RIT.EDU

-Jackie Paterson

Educational Technology Center

(ALL-IN-1, or JKPETC in VMS Mail)

(Internet: JKPETC@RIT.EDU)