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November 2000, Vol. 3 No. 6 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
Use of the World Wide Web in Teaching: A Personal Experience
 
Dr Raj Komaran
Formerly from Department of Marketing
Faculty of Business Administration
 

The widespread application of Internet technologies and the World Wide Web (WWW) will transform the process of instruction and learning. The fact that web-based information, especially that over the Internet, can be retrieved by anyone, at any time and anywhere, is forcing instructors and academics to ensure adequacy, accuracy, and currency of their material. There are, however, some drawbacks.

Problem of Pedagogical Balance

Virtual lessons add variation to faceto- face sessions, but there are risks that the habitual adoption of digitised notes, graphics, audio files, video clips, and hyperlinks may discourage students from serious reading of print material that contain more scholarly and researched work.

Keeping Up With the ‘Competition’

With increase in the amount of material available on the Internet, there will be anxiety to be distinctive. For example, in the field of statistics, a simple keyword search for topics such as ‘Chi Square’ and ‘ANOVA’ will call up a great number of different professors’ approaches and resource banks. Inevitably, students will compare courses and material as long as they are accessible on the Internet. Besides the preoccupation with multimedia, instructors may find it difficult to keep up with evolving technologies and e-learning software.

Temptation to Plagiarise

The Internet is a good source of data, information, and reports. But in encouraging its use for research, some students may be tempted to plagiarise, both unwittingly and deliberately, as it is easy to copy and paste from online journals, reports, abstracts, newspapers, and newsletters.

There is no doubt that the Internet and the WWW are here to stay. What follows are some tips derived from my own experience:

Some Do’s

  1. When authoring your course web page, ensure that every hyperlink is relevant to the course because the presence of unrelated or expired links can confuse and frustrate your students.
  2. When using a ‘live’ web page for a class, go early to class to cache the web pages on the personal computer (in the lecture hall/ classroom) to speed up the downloading during use, but be ready with backups such as screen captures or saved versions of critical web pages in case of connection problems.
  3. Regularly check the hyperlinks on your site and update your web pages for new semesters.
  4. Design the pages for easy navigation by adopting a uniform format throughout the semester.
  5. Schedule student research on material from the Internet assupplementary assignments and classify web-based information as supplementary reading after your students have done the required reading of print references.
  6. Assign groups or individual students to report on content relating to course topics on the WWW and evaluate the veracity of such material in class.
  7. Have a ‘What’s New’ section for easy reference and access to information that is newly posted.
  8. Get suggestions from students— the ultimate users. They are net savvy and spend more time accessing the Internet for different purposes and different courses.

Some Don’ts

  1. Don’t attempt to emulate all that others are doing. Instead, try to understand their design features and adopt those that suit your course.
  2. Avoid large files because of potential downloading problems. It is tempting to use high-resolution graphics or to digitise video and audio clips for the web, but such files usually require longer time to load because of bandwidth limitation when accessed from homes.
  3. Resist the temptation to hyperlink to tangentially related sites or even to humour sites. Focus on the integrity and professionalism of your site.

The WWW and the Internet are not just about improving the visual and content but represent a revolution in the way learning will be accomplished. Just as people have adjusted to the arrivals of new technologies through the ages, innovative educators are developing and introducing new pedagogies for online instruction and training. For instance, one possible development is for instructors around the world to work together to offer joint courses. New technologies and software can improve the methods of presenting information, knowledge integration, project assignment, and assessment, only if instructors have the resolve to use these new tools at hand.

 
 
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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)