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A Practical Guide to Teaching with the World Wide Web
originally by Susan Polyson, Steven Saltzberg, and Robert Godwin-Jones

Planning a Teaching and Learning Environment on the Web
  1. Internat Access
  2. Equipmwnt and Software
  3. Technical Support
Creating course Materials
  1. Create Web Pages With HTML
  2. Serve the Web Pages on a Web Server
Pedagogical Issues---Breaking with Tradition
  1. Personalized learning environment
  2. Collaborative learning
  3. Multimedia Presentation of Content
  4. Reinforcing Content
  5. Up to date Information
  6. Global Resources
  7. Experiential Learning
  8. New Assessment Models
  9. Features if a Web-Based Learning environment

Planning a Teaching and Learning Environment on the Web
Before creating the Internet presence, the following operational issues should be considered.

Internet Access

  1. Take a realistic look at your computing environment, i.e. knowing how your students ( e.g. by dialing in from home, by using equipment in on-campus computer classrooms or labs, or through campus network connections in dorms or other facilities). This is important for two reasons - connection speed and availability of access. You'll want to take this into consideration when deciding what types of media to include in your course materials.
  2. Be prepared to tell your students how they will be able to access your on-line course(e.g. identify which campus labs have Internet access and the necessary software, provide information about campus SLIP/PPP dial-in services, and how to obtain Internet access through a commercial Internet service provider).
Equipment and Software   Technical Support
Investigate the technical support that is available to students on-campus and off-campus (e.g., internet service providers and web-based resources).  

Creating Course Materials
There are many different approaches to developing online course materials - some requiring sophisticated technology skills, some requiring only moderate or minimal skills. It depends on the degree to which one wants to become involved in the technical details.

Create  web pages with HTML
All web documents are created using HTML(hypertext markup language) which is the basic "programming language" of the Web. In the past year many new software products have been developed which make the creation of HTML documents almost as easy as using standard word processing software.  Of course, the more one knows about HTML, the more sophisticated one can make the pages. To explore the higher end of technology, one can use Java, JavaScript, and CGI to add interactivity or animation.

"Serve" the web pages on a web server
The instructor may need to work with his university's computing staff to move his web pages to the institution's web server. Or, in some cases, he may opt to run his own personal or departmental web server. If he wishes to restrict access to only students in his class, he will also need to work with his web server administrator to create logins and passwords for each student.

Many of these technical and logistic challenges has been solved recently by some new software products designed to make it easier for instructors to create, serve and administer online courses. One example is Web Course In A Box (WCB),which allows faculty to create and serve online course materials using fill-in forms and on-line templates and which also allows instructors to easily control access by assigning student logins and passwords. In addition, no knowledge of HTML is required, and WCB automatically puts the pages on the web server.

 Pedagogical Issues - Breaking with Tradition

As long as pedagogy is concerned, take time to explore, exploit and experiment with integrating the unique features of the Web into the teaching environment. Think beyond traditional classroom paradigms as you begin creating your on-line course materials, and consider incorporating a few of the following Web-based learning paradigms.

Personalized learning environment

The Web lends itself to student-centered learning. The hypertextual organization allows materials at different levels of detail or difficulty to be made available to students without imposing a pre-determined path for them to follow. Students can create individually tailored paths to master the desired goals, moving at their own speed and retrieving additional information as needed. Tracing mechanisms can assist developers/teachers in learning what kinds of links students use most often.

Collaborative learning

 The Web presents an especially good environment for asynchronous collaboration in which students work together but not necessarily at the same time.

Multimedia Presentation of Content

The Web is providing an increasingly rich variety of media through which to present learning materials, including exciting new options like streaming audio and video. Using a variety of media (text, graphics, audio, video) to present the material may accommodate individual learning styles, and provide approaches for both visual and auditory learners.

Reinforcing content

Organizing materials in a hypertext format allows for their integration into a variety of contexts. Interactive testing through HTML forms (processed by server-based CGI scripts) or client-side JavaScript enables self-paced learning, or the regular review of covered materials. Weighted values can be assigned to items in order to generate automatically recommendations for remedial work or more advanced study.

Up to date information
Web materials allow for easy updating. In many fields access to recent research over the Web is becoming more and more a reality, through discussion groups, electronic journals and on-line conference presentations. The Web is becoming indispensable in ensuring that the most recent disciplinary discussions are consulted.

Global Resources

One of the marvels of the Web has always been the ease and transparency with which local and global resources are combined. Instructors can put their own materials on line and link them to resources from throughout the world. From the student's perspective both are just a click away. This offers the possibility of students consulting disciplinary experts' on-line contributions as easily as they read the course syllabus.

Experiential Learning

Beyond the basic interactivity made available by Discussion Forums, and interactive software at your desktop (e.g., Java and JavaScript, Shockwave) is a world of immersion into simulated experiences. These technologies allow you to create and visit virtual places, create new personas, and interact with voice, music, graphics, and changing environments that you couldn't afford (nor would necessarily want) to experience in real life.

New Assessment Models
How to properly evaluate students that we canít see, hear and interact with in person? For some this hurdle seems insurmountable; for others a challenge. But for each there are models to consider. At Virginia Commonwealth University's Execunet Program (a Masters Degree in Health Administration) students are on campus for limited periods of time for orientation and testing. In other programs a proctoring system is set up so that students can come to labs throughout the region to participate in the virtual classroom or to take an exam. And for some faculty, the interactive capabilities of the internet provide them with better assessment feedback than the traditional classroom.

Experience has helped us to better understand the features of a Web-based course environment and the tools that can enhance teaching and learning. And although the Web for teaching and learning remains in its infancy, we do have an exciting and potentially revolutionary beginning.
Features of a Web-Based Learning Environment

Several online course components should be considered to support teaching pedagogy. The following features can be found in most good Web learning sites:

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