Issues in Using Web-Based Course Resources

Issues in Using Web-Based Course Resources

Karen S. Nantz (Eastern Illinois University, USA) and Norman A. Garrett (Eastern Illinois University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch359
OnDemand PDF Download:
$37.50

Abstract

Education over the Internet is going to be so big it is going to make e-mail usage look like a rounding error. John Chambers, Cisco Systems, New York Times, November 17, 1990 Web-based courses (Mesher, 1999) are defined as those where the entire course is taken on the Internet. In some courses, there may be an initial meeting for orientation. Proctored exams may also be given, either from the source of the Web-based course or off-site at a testing facility. The Internet-based course becomes a virtual classroom with a syllabus, course materials, chat space, discussion list, and e-mail services (Resmer, 1999). Navarro (2000) provides a further definition: a fully interactive, multimedia approach. Current figures indicate that 12% of Internet users in the United States use the Internet to take an online course for credit toward a degree of some kind (Horrigan, 2006). That number is indicative of the rapid proliferation of online courses over the past several years. The Web-enhanced course is a blend with the components of the traditional class while making some course materials available on a Web site, such as course syllabi, assignments, data files, and test reviews. Additional elements of a Web-enhanced course can include online testing, a course listserver, instructor-student e-mail, collaborative activities using RSS feeds and related technologies, and other activities on the Internet. One of the biggest concerns about Web-based courses is that users will become socially isolated. The Pew Internet and America Life Project found that online communities provide a vibrant social community (Horrigan, Rainie, & Fox, 2001). Clearly, students are not concerned or feel that other benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks. According to government research (Waits and Lewis, 2003), during the 2000-2001 academic year alone, an estimated 118,100 different credit courses were offered via distance education (with the bulk of that using Internet-based methods) by 2- and 4-year institutions in the United States. Over 3 million students were registered in these courses. Navarro (2000) suggests that faculty members are far more likely to start by incorporating Internet components into a traditional course rather than directly offering Web-based courses. These Web-enhanced courses might be considered the transition phase to the new paradigm of Internet-based courses. Rich learning environments are being created, with a shift from single tools to the use of multiple online tools, both to enhance traditional courses and to better facilitate online courses (Teles, 2002).
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Education over the Internet is going to be so big it is going to make e-mail usage look like a rounding error.

John Chambers, Cisco Systems, New York Times, November 17, 1990

Web-based courses (Mesher, 1999) are defined as those where the entire course is taken on the Internet. In some courses, there may be an initial meeting for orientation. Proctored exams may also be given, either from the source of the Web-based course or off-site at a testing facility. The Internet-based course becomes a virtual classroom with a syllabus, course materials, chat space, discussion list, and e-mail services (Resmer, 1999). Navarro (2000) provides a further definition: a fully interactive, multimedia approach. Current figures indicate that 12% of Internet users in the United States use the Internet to take an online course for credit toward a degree of some kind (Horrigan, 2006). That number is indicative of the rapid proliferation of online courses over the past several years.

The Web-enhanced course is a blend with the components of the traditional class while making some course materials available on a Web site, such as course syllabi, assignments, data files, and test reviews. Additional elements of a Web-enhanced course can include online testing, a course listserver, instructor-student e-mail, collaborative activities using RSS feeds and related technologies, and other activities on the Internet.

One of the biggest concerns about Web-based courses is that users will become socially isolated. The Pew Internet and America Life Project found that online communities provide a vibrant social community (Horrigan, Rainie, & Fox, 2001). Clearly, students are not concerned or feel that other benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks. According to government research (Waits and Lewis, 2003), during the 2000-2001 academic year alone, an estimated 118,100 different credit courses were offered via distance education (with the bulk of that using Internet-based methods) by 2- and 4-year institutions in the United States. Over 3 million students were registered in these courses.

Navarro (2000) suggests that faculty members are far more likely to start by incorporating Internet components into a traditional course rather than directly offering Web-based courses. These Web-enhanced courses might be considered the transition phase to the new paradigm of Internet-based courses. Rich learning environments are being created, with a shift from single tools to the use of multiple online tools, both to enhance traditional courses and to better facilitate online courses (Teles, 2002).

Top

Background

A 1999 research study showed that 27.3% of the faculty members thought they used the Internet for the delivery of course materials, but only 15.6% actually did so. Of this group, the major use was simply the substitution of a Web page for the printed page. Most faculty members (73.8%) updated their sites so infrequently that the sites only served to replicate printed handouts. In a follow-up study at the same university, the number of faculty who used Web pages to enhance their courses showed a decrease from the previous year (Garrett, Lundgren, & Nantz, 2000). In the same study, 22% of the faculty were never planning to use a Web site for delivery of any portion of their courses. Less than 5% were truly incorporating Web technology into their courses in a meaningful way. Lee Raines, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project notes that the role of experts, such as teachers, has changed. The Internet has empowered amateurs. New teaching models and methods have developed as educators try to adjust to changing student attitudes (Rainie, 2006). The new educational model becomes “the net-savvy, well-connected, teacher-independent end-user” (Castells, p. 20).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Web-Enhanced Course: A traditional course with some electronic enhancements, such as Web pages for course syllabi, data files, and test reviews.

LMS (Learning Management Systems): Also known as content management systems , these systems combine a variety of collaborative features into a single user interface, making it easier to administer and design content (faculty) and access and use (students). There are a number of commercial and open-source systems available with the most well known being WebCT and Blackboard (commercial), and Moodle (open-source).

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): This is the foundation protocol for the world wide Web (WWW) that allows text, images, links, and other materials to be combined together into a single presentation.

Web-Based Course: A course, which is delivered entirely by electronic methods such as the Internet.

XML (Extensible Markup Language): This markup language, which is much more robust than html, is used for numerous different applications but is primarily known as a container for networked database information and the foundation of RSS.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication or, alternatively, Rich Site Summary (the former is the preferred term and is in wider use): This technology is based upon XML and is designed to facilitate the syndication, aggregation, and consumption of Web-based content.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset