Delivering Web-Based Education

Delivering Web-Based Education

Kathryn A. Marold (Metropolitan State College of Denver, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch157
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Abstract

A decade of hindsight allows us to examine the phenomenon of Web-based course delivery and evaluate its successes and failures. When Web-delivered courses mushroomed from campuses in the 1990s, they were embraced by students, faculty, and administrators alike. The prospect of “electronic tutelage” (Marold, 2002), which allowed students through Web interface to take college courses for credit any time, any place (ATAP), was immediately popular with students. The interruptions of job and schedule changes, relocation, childbirth, failed transportation to campus, and so forth no longer necessitated an interruption in progress toward a degree. Likewise, faculty saw online teaching as an opportunity to disseminate knowledge and assess student progress according to their personal preferences, and to communicate personally with their students, albeit virtually. Administrators saw the revenue without physical classroom allocations as an immediate cash cow. In the beginning, there was satisfaction all around. Although this state of affairs was not necessarily universal, generally it could be concluded that Web-based education was a very good thing.
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Introduction

A decade of hindsight allows us to examine the phenomenon of Web-based course delivery and evaluate its successes and failures. When Web-delivered courses mushroomed from campuses in the 1990s, they were embraced by students, faculty, and administrators alike. The prospect of “electronic tutelage” (Marold, 2002), which allowed students through Web interface to take college courses for credit any time, any place (ATAP), was immediately popular with students. The interruptions of job and schedule changes, relocation, childbirth, failed transportation to campus, and so forth no longer necessitated an interruption in progress toward a degree. Likewise, faculty saw online teaching as an opportunity to disseminate knowledge and assess student progress according to their personal preferences, and to communicate personally with their students, albeit virtually. Administrators saw the revenue without physical classroom allocations as an immediate cash cow. In the beginning, there was satisfaction all around. Although this state of affairs was not necessarily universal, generally it could be concluded that Web-based education was a very good thing.

The Evolution Of Web-Based Course Delivery

Web-based education is a variation of distance learning: the content (college courses from an accredited North American institution, for purposes of this chapter) is delivered via the World Wide Web. The Web course content covers a quarter or semester of curriculum that the student must complete and prove a level of mastery within a given timeline. For the most part, Web-based courses use existing college curriculum and timelines. Web-based education is currently the most popular form of distance education. As educators are inclined to do, it was not long before they wanted to stand back and evaluate what they had created and determine the success of Web-delivered courses as a form of distance education. With McLuhanesque procedures, a glance in the “rear view mirror” was in order (McLuhan, 1964.) The results of many measures of success show that for some of the students, some of the time, in some situations, Web-based education is quite successful. Likewise, for many persons in many situations and in many phases of their formal education, Web-delivered education is not the answer.

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Background

The advent of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s promised a more effective, user-friendly form of Internet distance education. The graphical hypertext and, indeed, the hypermedia nature of the Web could enhance course delivery. Almost immediately, Web courses began to flourish. A new mode of delivery was firmly established.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Chat Sessions: Live discussions online with a variable number of participants in a Web-based class. They can be formal and led by the instructor, or they can be leaderless informal conversations. Chat sessions are synchronous.

Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication: Synchronous communication via the Web is immediate communication, such as in chat or instant messaging. Asynchronous communication is delayed communication via the Web, such as threaded discussions, forums, or e-mail messages, where each participant does not have to be online at the same time.

Electronic Gradebooks: Maintaining a record of a student’s progress in a Web-based education class by posting grades on the course Web pages. General gradebooks show all enrollees; personalized gradebooks can only be viewed by the individual student.

This work was previously published in Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology: edited by M. Khosrow-Pour, pp. 786-790, copyright 2005 by Information Science Reference, formerly known as Idea Group Reference (an imprint of IGI Global)

Web Profiles: Short biographies of students enrolled in a Web-based education course. The profiles may contain Web links to students’ own home pages and digitized photos of the students.

Web-Based Education: A variation of distance learning; the content (college courses from an accredited North American institution, for purposes of this chapter) is delivered via the World Wide Web. The Web course content covers a quarter or semester of curriculum that the student must complete within a given timeline in return for course credit.

Web Links: Hyperlinks (hot links) to other Web sites that are embedded in the active pages of a Web-based education course.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning: A scale that represents an organization of learning levels (five levels) that are characterized by the student’s immersion into the theory and application of principles of a course content.

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