Members of the AARNet Project team at the University of Newcastle, Australia, are currently developing courses designed to teach the use of the World Wide Web to locate and retrieve subject-related resources from the Net.
Course participants will be academic and general staff, postgraduate and honours students.
We intend to use the Mosaic software (PC and Mac) in most of our laboratory sessions. However, if there is sufficient demand, we may also offer classes using the Lynx browser on a VAX/VMS system. Many people on campus only have access to the equivalent of the VT100.
During the workshop, I would like to discuss practical issues associated with preparation for, and presentation of, these courses. These issues include learning outcomes, level of teaching, course duration, course content, teaching methodology, selection of resources, preparation of documentation and evaluation of the courses.
What skills should we expect our students to have acquired as a result of the course? Some might include the ability to use the software competently and to find resources relevant to their subject area quickly and efficiently.
What knowledge should they gain during the class? Perhaps a definition of the Web, client/server software, Mosaic and its relationship to the Web would be good places to start?
What should we include in the course? How much technical information? If anyone has given a class of this type I would be most interested to discuss this with them! Some rather nebulous ideas I've had are:
Currently, we present our Internet courses in a small laboratory which houses nine dumb terminals (VT420), a whiteboard, a screen and an overhead projector. If we teach the Web using Lynx, we will continue to use this laboratory.
In the near future, we intend to "borrow" a laboratory of networked Macs and PCs to teach Mosaic. The question arises as to what extent we will have to change our "lesson plans" to suit the different location and software.
Some thoughts which have occurred to me are:
This is related to the navigation of the Web.
Should we give the students the skills to find their own, or should we find the resources for them? At present, we do both.
The selection of resources will depend on the subject being resourced and on the interface being used. Mosaic enables students to retrieve, view and listen to, a greater variety of resources than does Lynx or the line-mode client, of course.
How much documentation should we give? How should it be presented?
We have to update our documentation every time we give a course because of the frequent changes on the Net so it tends to be practical rather than pretty.
If anyone has any documentation for their Mosaic classes they are willing to share, we would be most grateful. In return, we have lots of documentation prepared inhouse for our local and national workshops. This documentation covers FTP, email, electronic discussion groups, gopher and telnet courses.
How do you evaluate your courses? What criteria do you use for evaluation?
We ask our students to fill in a simple form containing two closed, and several open-ended questions. Any other ideas?
We have not yet started to prepare for this, nor have we mastered the necessary skills ourselves to any degree. However, it is clear that this course will probably be required because several academics have expressed an interest in this.
The issues I would like to discuss are essentially the same as those listed above.
However, there is more than one piece of software and many more concepts involved so I would envisage that the duration of the course would be longer. It might occupy several two hour periods spread over a week or month. What do others think?