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: 10.4018/978-1-61520-967-5.ch108
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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).

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