10.0720 online teaching

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Wed, 19 Feb 1997 09:08:10 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 720.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Paul groves <paul.groves@computing- (19)
Subject: Announcement: Online teaching report

[2] From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> (41)
Subject: throw-away?

Date: Tue, 18 Feb 1997 10:54:16 +0000 (GMT)
From: Paul groves <paul.groves@computing-services.oxford.ac.uk>
Subject: Announcement: Online teaching report

Available from the 'Virtual Seminars for Teaching Literature'
JTAP project is a report on 'Existing Tools & Projects for On-line
Teaching' at http://info.ox.ac.uk/jtap/reports/teaching/

This report covers ways different aspects of the Internet can be used for
teaching purposes, including the World Wide Web, email and newsgroups, and
MUDs and MOOs.

If a paper copy of this report is required please get in touch at the
address given below


Paul Groves Email: paul.groves@oucs.ox.ac.uk
JTAP Project Officer Fax: +44 (0)1865 273 275
Humanities Computing Unit Tel: +44 (0)1865 273 226
Oxford University Computing Services
13 Banbury Road
Oxford, England. OX2 6NN

Date: Tue, 18 Feb 1997 14:00:47 +0000 ()
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: throw-away?

In the helpful, attractive light of the online report by Stuart
Lee, Paul Groves, and Christopher Stephens, "Existing Tools &
Projects for On-line Teaching", I have a further question to ask.
Allow me to prefix this question with a story.

Once upon a time not very long ago, at well-known university X, in
the fine department Y, a certain senior Professor Z decided that
computer-assisted learning software was a good idea. Although she did
not know much about the technology, she saw the potential, and being
politically not without skill, managed to pry out of a central fund
enough money to purchase development equipment and software. She then
set to work, and after some months, enjoying the benefits of a course
off for development work but spending many a late night in her
office, she produced her instructional package. It was a brilliant
piece of work, no question -- rich in content, well designed,
visually attractive, entertaining. The course for which it was
designed had an enrolment of hundreds. Local facilities were
provided on which students could use it. They did, and liked
what they saw. Clearly a success.

Then Professor Z, after teaching this course for 2 years, went
off to do other things. Her replacement, though
computer-friendly, looked at the package and decided immediately
not to use it because the approach to the subject differed from
his own. No subsequent instructor for that course has used
the package, and now it is beginning to show serious signs of
age. Thus 9-12 months of a very expensive person's time, plus
the time of support staff, plus the equipment cost, bought
instruction for 800 students over a period of 2 years. Suddenly
the story does not seem to be about a success but, perhaps,
about a mistaken approach to instructing students.

My question is, wouldn't it be better to concentrate on
developing primary resources which an instructor could assemble
quickly into courseware and then abandon at no great cost? Isn't
the Web, as the authors of the report cited above, in general a
better means of providing throw-away software than any
stand-alone authoring system, such as Hypercard or Toolbook?


Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer
Centre for Computing in the Humanities
King's College London / Strand / London WC2R 2LS U.K.
voice: +44 (0)171 873 2784 / fax: +44 (0)171 873 5081