Teaching & Learning With the Web:
Globewide Network Academy
has a strong commitment to deliver high quality educational
services via the Internet. The World-Wide Web is considered a
resource of central importance to this endeavour.
An Active Virtual Course
This paper is the extended version of one section of a larger paper
WWW for the Globewide Network Academy, and a contribution to
T&L workshop at the
1st Int. WWW Conference, CERN.
Since spring 1994, two prototype courses attempt to combine the power of the
Web with a virtual teaching environment: a course
"Introduction to the Internet", and a C++ programming course. In this article,
the second course will be discussed in detail. The global structure of
both GNA courses is somewhat alike.
"Introduction to OOP Using C++"
GNA prototype programming course.
Its format is self-paced, based on a
fully hypertextified C++ Tutorial. A
GNA virtual campus
is staffed with an
at certain hours, to answer student
questions and help with the exercises. In addition, there is an
email discussion list whose
archives are on the Web.
The course also provides a
bootstrapping document which is sent to registered students to help
them get to the Web and the virtual classroom.
The GNA personnel tracking system was used for
for this course is made available and sent to
registered students in ASCII format via Email. Both through the
GNA WAIS server
and in the course material, a list of students, consultants and
contributing volunteers is accessible (with their hyplans if available).
outlines the course format.
The GNA Virtual Library supports GNA courses providing
general library services (books, online librarians) and a special
course locker for each GNA course. In this way, the course home pages
can be saved from being overloaded with secondary information resources.
During course preparation and registration, a separate
"what's new" page
informs the participants about the progress made. Volunteers are directed
help-wanted list. For visitors, an
course "highlights" has been prepared.
Feedback reaches the team of consultants via regular
among the students. Each course unit starts with an
At a minimum, the
of online consultants provides answers to questions
of students after these have worked through the text of a particular
course unit and tried to solve the exercises.
are planned to further
motivate the students.
In the future, the
link between W3 and the virtual classroom
shall be used more: at present, virtual teaching is limited to simple line-mode
For the course, an own
MOO GUI has been
written recently, though.
To help the students to get comfortable in the virtual environment, a lot
of information on MOOs,
a repository of clients, a direct link to the MOO
and a guide for first-timers, has been added to the course material.
In the aftermath,
transcripts taken during online sessions are analyzed
which will enrich the courseware for following GNA programming courses.
The C++ tutorial comes with a wealth of
the advantage of Web access to course material is obvious: programs can be
accessed directly from within the text page and formatted as fancy as one
wants, e.g. to mark language keywords, statements and user-defined variables.
Alternatively, the student can cut and paste the ASCII source text, or
look up language specifications in a
glossary of C++ terms
[to be made searchable later on].
Within the course, an alternative approach using automated hypertextification
full C++ class library
is tested. The presentation of C++ source code on the Web is an interesting
topic by itself: students of the course have already contributed
GISMO development version by Tony Burnett.)
For the first course which started May 1, 80 students were enrolled.
At present, 10 consultants serve in the class.
The experiences with the WWW courseware in connection with a WWW-archived
Email list have been extraordinarily good. Many students continue to
with great enthusiasm. The interactive MOO environment had been untested
by most students before the course. Two weeks after the start, a majority has
received MOO accounts and started interacting with consultants and other
At present (mid-May),
are evolving which are
expected to transcend the duration of the course (ca. May-July 1994).
The WWW pages for this course have been nominated for a
"Best of Web 94" Award
int he category "Best Educational Service".
The first ideas on combining WWW and online methods to create a better
Internet curriculum were laid down in the GNA
subject to discussion in the
GNA curriculum working group. In
the meantime, with many more teachers and students
getting interested in multimedia, a GNA course review committee has formed.
Its work will directly profit from the recent experiences using WWW and MOOs
A draft catalog for future
GNA courses exists with proposed classes on topics like
"Renaissance Culture", "Environmental Microbiology" or "Creative Writing", as
well as other programming courses.
In the near future, GNA hopes to offer a package to people willing to teach
under its umbrella. It shall help them to make use of the advanced technology
GNA is currently developing for educational purposes.