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November 2000, Vol. 3 No. 6 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Web-Based Learning Centre
 
Simon P. Albon
Senior Instructor
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of British Columbia, Canada
 

Introduction

As the tidal wave of technology continues to sweep over the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, like most faculties at UBC, is greatly challenged to deal with the technological onslaught in the face of limited resources and time, and increasing public demands and professional pressures. In recent years, a shift placing greater emphasis on learning has begun to emerge in the Faculty as ‘pioneers’ practise more progressive approaches to education. This evolving learner-centred approach to pharmacy education has the potential to be combined with computer technologies, the Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW) to create effective educational resources to further develop student learning, as well as enhance teaching practice. This article provides a description of our Web-Based Learning Centre prototype developed specifically to utilise educational technology to facilitate and support on-going pedagogical change in our pharmacy programme.

The Web-Based Learning Centre (WBLC)

The WBLC prototype success fully integrates four pharmacy courses in two disciplines of the pharmaceutical sciences into a seamless resource. Components of the WBLC include the WBLC homepage and four WebCT 1 courses. The interface utilises a combination of text, animation, stills, hypertext linking, and a simple navigation system to meet the pedagogical objectives of the project.


1. The WBLC Homepage:

  • represents the focal linking point of the WBLC resource providing operational information as well as links to individual WebCT courses (see Figure 1), and

  • contains a main menu that leads to these sections: ‘Getting Started’, ‘Tutorials’, ‘Site Map’, ‘Frequently Figure 1: Site map for the WBLC Resource Asked Questions’, ‘Project Background’, and ‘Design Team’.

2. Each WebCT course contains:

  • a homepage built on top of the WebCT framework,

  • six common internal elements,

  • links to improve integration within (Intralinks) and between (Interlinks) pharmacy courses,

  • links to other sites on the Internet (URLs),

  • graphics, animation, and stills to enhance course materials,

  • an integrative problem to promote the use of the resource links, and

  • a set of communication tools including email, bulletin board, and real-time chat.

3. The features of the interface include:

  • a simple navigation bar based on a ‘three clicks to anywhere’ principle (see Figure 2), which ensures that students get anywhere they want in the WBLC web site within three clicks of the mouse.

  • a comfortable visual environment, and

  • common design elements and icons in each course.

WBLC Effectiveness

Implemented in the first, second, and third years of our pharmacy programme during the 1999–2000 academic year, the WBLC prototype has the potential to address the limitations in our current pharmacy programme at both the individual course and overall programme levels. Although the effectiveness of the WBLC has not been fully evaluated, early observations indicate that the prototype does overcome some of the traditional barriers to teaching and learning in the current pharmacy programme by:

  • integrating course materials between different disciplines of the harmaceutical sciences with the strategic use of hypertext linking (Intra and Interlinks),

  • providing enriched learning materials through the use of interactive multimedia,

  • providing improved access to resource materials through the Internet and WWW,

  • providing new learning opportunities in the form of integrative case-based problems designed to utilise the resource links, and

  • providing an improved sense of a learning community through extensive communication and feedback mechanisms.

Future directions of the WBLC project includes release of the latest version of the prototype in September 2000 with a full evaluation of the resource to be completed
by the end of the 2000–2001 academic year. The WBLC can be visited at http://www. ubcpharmacy.org/wbl.


Footnote:

1 WebCT (Web Course Tools; http://www.webct.com) is a software product developed at and licensed from UBC which provides a template for faculty members to create password protected courses in the web environment. WebCT is a powerful tool that provides approximately 30 different tools to support 3 aspects of course design: course development, administration, and communication.

 
 
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Inside this issue
Using the WWW in Teaching Is it worth the effort?
   
The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences Web-Based Learning Centre
   
Computer-Mediated Collaborative Learning: Laying the Foundation for an Awareness of Regional Perspectives
   
Use of the World Wide Web in Teaching: A Personal Experience
   
Glossary of Basic Technical Terms (used in this CDTL Brief)