Introduction to the Course
useless. They can only give you answers. --Pablo Picasso
In this commentary I will
- some of my expectations
for the learning community we will build this semester and
- explain weekly activities.
You may wish to print out
a single copy for personal use of the various commentaries, etc. Please do not
make copies for others without asking.
The above quotation from
Picasso reminds us of what humans must contribute to the use of technology--the
This semester we will explore
a number of questions
- How does access to a
tool change the educational process as well as the tool users?
- How can I find meaningful
and effective means to connect with learners?
- What is "merely" fun
technology (and for whom) as opposed to practical technology?
- What is accomplished
by using this (vs. that) technology?
- Can some technologies
hinder learning? Which technologies help learning?
The answers to these questions
ultimately depend on the objectives the instructor sets for a course and the
types of learners in the course. There are universal principles which can guide
you in these decisions.
This semester we will be
formulating and exploring the questions that need to be addressed before we
can help students learn from an Internet-based course. We will raise questions
that are pertinent for
- the student
- the individual instructor
- the University
- our future.
It can be intimidating to
venture into a new arena, but if you keep your purpose uppermost, then the courage
and drive will be there for you.
If you are patient with
yourself and technology, then the skills will come.
If we ask the questions
carefully and thoughtfully, then answers will begin to present themselves.
No one can know all there
is to know about the Internet today, but we can explore the universal principles
which will be around whatever the particular technology. These are principles
which can guide us for a lifetime in choosing what technologies can help us
achieve our objectives.
Each week you will have
- a reading (either from
the textbook or the Web or both),
- an optional self-administered
quiz over the reading,
- a brief commentary (such
as this one)
- with an assignment
- a discussion or other
A complete set of commentaries
are already posted for the registered student. Because the course content deals
with technology, it is always a challenge to stay current. The specific facts
and links in this field change rapidly.
On-line postings provide
the most up-to-date information and links. I have learned that most students
prefer to print them for reading, so this term I
intend to make available a print copy, in several "volumes," trying
to balance convenience to you with currency.
I will send you information
on where you can obtain the print version when the term begins. The on-line
versions are always available.
I will continue to update
the on-line versions the week prior to the posted date for reading, checking
that links are still "hot." You may read ahead if you choose, but
assignments and links will be final on the Friday
prior to the date under which they appear on
the lesson page. (Check the date at the bottom of each page to see if the page
I present a broad range
of experiences and guide you down a central path, but it would be impossible
and impractical for you to examine every link or to do every task. You should
select what is useful for you within each lesson.
One of the new skills to
be acquired is learning when to stop. The Internet is endless and cannot be
thoroughly absorbed. Explicit objectives are life-saving because they tell you
when to stop.
I actually rather like the
idea that the ground is shifting under our feet as we learn. I think it narrows
that artificial separation between "the real world" and academia.
It reminds us all that we are lifelong learners.
The key to success in an Internet
course is high levels of interactivity between the learners and between learner
and instructor. Interaction for the course will take several forms, including
web based asynchronous discussion, live chat, E-mail, and phone conversations.
The effective Internet student is one who actively uses the new information through
interaction and through assignments. To facilitate interaction the class needs
you to contribute to the discussions and to post your personal contact information
to the Student Information Page. (See assignments below).
Please review the rules
for netiquette on page 112 of Porter. These will serve as interim rules for
interaction until the class has a chance to discuss and develop their own set.
You won't ordinarily have
this many separate tasks. You'll find fewer tasks on later assignments. This
is just first week orientation activities.
Most of the term we will
spend in a course software called "Blackboard" or "CourseInfo."
In order to make these first lessons easily available to visitors, I have posted
them on my personal website. Some of the following are links to my personal
site. Some are linked in CourseInfo.
- Review page 112 in Porter
and the class policies
page (http://edtech.wku.edu/~internet/syll.htm). This is also available
under Course Information in the Blackboard site.
- Then, if you haven't
already done so, complete and snail mail to me the information
form at http://edtech.wku.edu/~internet/studinfo.htm or under
- Print out Table
for Scheduling Your Work Time (http://edtech.wku.edu/~internet/sched.htm)
or see Course Information. Post it by your computer and keep track of
- Get acquainted with the
Blackboard/CourseInfo site if you aren't already familiar with it. Try out
the various buttons. When you are ready....
- Open the Student
Tools button then
- Choose Edit Your
Homepage. You will get a form to fill out. Fiddle with it/experiment.
- Post at least the
following information on your web page:
- Academic discipline
- The class you
are thinking of teaching via the Internet
- If you have your
own Web page, you may put a link to it.
- To read it, go to
the Communication button...Student Web Pages. (Notice that you have to
read it in a different place from where you create it.
- Due: before completing
"Overview of Internet Instruction" readings.We'll begin with
a team Icebreaker (adapted from Luechauer & Shulman, 1995).
- Answer the following
questions. There are no right or wrong answers (Don't think too long or
hard about them or peek at others' responses before finishing your own)
- If technology
were an animal, what kind would it be and why?
- If technology
were a type of food, what kind would it be and why?
- If technology
were weather, what kind would it be and why?
- Contact your partner
as listed in the E-mail message sent by me on the first day of the term
and share introductory information (name, why you are taking the course,
- Decide if there is
one theme that runs through the team's answers and tell us what that theme
is. Use the discussion board in the Blackboard/CourseInfo site. (Directions
will be sent to you.)
- The team/pair should
select one answer for each question and one person should post the answers
to the class discussion. To find it,
- enter the Blackboard/CourseInfo
site as per the E-mailed instructions
- select Communication
- click on Discussion
Board (http://atech.wku.edu:8080/courses/psy501/). If you really like
both sets or metaphors, you can post all responses.
- The other person
should report on any themes your team identified in the metaphors.
- E-mail to me one to three
questions you have concerning any of the course materials. Be sure to put
501 in the subject line.
- Post a question or comment
to the discussion group, other than the ones I've suggested.
- Offer advice/comments/questions
on the layout of web site/assignments to the instructor. Remember to put "501"
in the subject line of E-mail messages.
Next ....Course structure
Contact the author with comments or questions about this site by following the
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Created: January 14, 1998. Last Modified: January 8, 2001.
All contents © since 1997 by Sally Kuhlenschmidt. Copy only with permission.