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I Teach, Therefore I Log On

by Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs
posted August 26, 1998

Some 20 faculty members -- mathematicians and art historians, business specialists and biologists -- grappled with URL protocols, web page architecture and image acquisition techniques at the Summer 1998 Faculty Instructional Technology Institute held on campus Aug. 12 to 14.

The 2 1/2-day seminar on creating and using course web sites, which took place in Dwinelle Hall, coupled a theoretical overview of topics such as audience, compatibility and intellectual property with hands-on practice using web-page authoring tools.

Participating faculty included ambivalent high-tech neophytes as well as enthusiasts who have already incorporated the Internet into their curriculum with on-line forums, self-quizzes, intercontinental scholarly communication and hypertext links.

Randolph Starn experimented with a course web site during CyberSemester '97 for a class on the history of the humanities and human science disciplines taught with Carla Hesse. Student response to the Internet applications was mixed, recalls Starn -- "from rejection to wonderful breakthroughs about using new technology to remake worlds of scholarship and research in the humanities."

Their course web site was constructed by a graduate student and computer consultant. "I was at the institute figuring that I need to get up to speed myself," Starn said.

"If I could figure out enough about this technology, maybe I'd be willing to do it," said a cautiously interested Eugene Bardach, professor of public policy. "The technophiles substantially underestimate what it takes for the rest of us to make it go. Yet without zealots, the world would not progress."

Bardach then went on to imagine the potential to "share documents, create subgroups, exchange drafts and comments, send copies" if a whole department were networked using the web.

His colleague at the Goldman School, Michael O'Hare, praised the potential of course web sites to help transform the "apparatus of formal education" from lecture and repetition to a model that may better facilitate learning.

IS&T's Instructional Technology Program developed the institute in collaboration with the Teaching Library, the Office of Media Services and the Berkeley Language Center and with support from IS&T Workstation Support Services and the Berkeley Multimedia Research Center.

"We've given pilot training workshops for about six years," said institute coordinator Judy Stern, "but we never tried a multi-topic, multi-day format. We hope to do at least one every summer."

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