Interactive class

How to Go From Class-Room to Web-Room as Painlessly as Possible
By Rik Hall, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick

Getting your course onto the World Wide Web (WWW) is best done using a systematic approach. There are a number of steps that need to be taken prior to starting any of the actual web work. Meetings should be held with various groups within your institution. Once the actual coursework is begun, there are some essential components and some optional components. There are specific skills and talents that you either need to acquire or you need to access. Each web-based course is unique, but they often have many components in common. Some are essential, others may be optional. Resources can be found on your campus, from the many web companies and from the web itself.
World Wide Web, WWW, Distance Education, HTML, Web-Based Instruction
The number of degree credit courses available on the World Wide Web (WWW) has increased at the same astonishing rate as other activities on the WWW. There are some specific steps that can be taken that will help to transport the professor from the idea stage to the delivery of a course over the WWW. Also, just like any other educational technology, web-based instruction works better for some situations than others. Web-based instruction is useful when you want to create a virtual environment which is not easily or, perhaps, safely accessible. An example is sending learners to a virtual nuclear lab or on a "virtual tour" of the Louver in Paris.
Web-based instruction it allows learners to gain knowledge and skill more effectively than traditional methods. Simply transferring material such as lecture notes to the web is not using the technology to its best advantage. Lengthy text such as lecture notes are, in fact, best printed because most learners experience eye strain and sensory disinterest reading long passages of text on a screen. Some specific situations tend to lend themselves to web-based instruction.
4.1 Encouraging Communication
You want to encourage communication through conferencing. Through internet conferencing learners may participate in discussions or group work with one another with or without the participation of the instructor. Role plays, simulations of historical events and debates are also examples of how learning can be facilitated through the conferencing option.
4.2 Accessing Source Documents
You want learners to use "source documents" to complete assignments such as conducting an analysis or designing a project. These source documents may not be readily available to learners or perhaps, based on the assignment, will not be equally significant to all the learners.
For example, you may ask learners to research and analyze issues pertaining to Canadian elections. To complete the assignment, various learners may access archived information such as newspaper and journal articles which specifically relate to their particular interest or point of view.
One example is a site operated by the University of Victoria ( robinson/index.html) which contains letters, maps, biographies and newspaper articles about the murder of William Robinson committed on Saltspring Island in 1868. The information at the site allows learners and the public to pursue their research as they please and to access original documents which are not generally available. Individuals are free to interpret the meaning of the documents and reach their own conclusions.
4.3 Flexibility of Learning
You want to provide maximum flexibility to allow learners to undertake learning and research in the order which best suits them. Because the web allows learners to "move around" at will, they do not need to follow a structured hierarchy. Generally learners need and want some direction but the web allows a more flexible approach.
4.4 Further Study
You want learners to pool data and/or analysis to find patterns and trends or to undertake further study.
For a starting point and to keep us on track in this paper, I will discuss degree credit courses delivered by the University of New Brunswick. I will assume that for your case there is ready WWW web access for the professor as well as web access for students. Again, for consistency, I expect my students to have at least Netscape 3 (or its equivalent), their own internet service provider (ISP), and the skills necessary to access the WWW. These are my starting points