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Who needs the Web and what are the Difficulties?


Who needs the Web (and the Net in general)? Since the WWW is becoming a de-facto standard as information tool on the Internet, frequently cited candidates are Distance Teaching Institutions. Such institutions do in principle have the financial resources for producing WWW course-ware. However student's access to the Web has to be insured! Arguments against the WWW are the quite staggering re-organization costs and the Web's technical gaps. ``Just in Time Open Learning'' Providers face the same issues.

Semi-Distance curricula that combine intensive course modules in some location with distance learning (e.g. TECFA's postgraduate diploma) are more flexible in that respect. Such diplomas are a rather new phenomenon and can be constructed with the possibilities that the Internet offers in mind. Instructors can produce up-to-date learning materials. However, this means additional work for them (at least in the short term) and coping with the lack of experience with Distance Teaching. Similar candidates are single Distance Teaching Courses offered by regular institutions. Such courses will become increasingly popular due to increasing specialization and shrinking of funding. However similar problems have to be faced, i.e. lack of time and training.

``Classical'' Institutions can use the WWW to enhance Class Room teaching and try out new pedagogies, e.g. facilitate information instead of giving ex-cathedra lectures, have students collaborate in exploratory research, etc.

One of the most popular uses of the WWW is Departmental Research and Training Information. Such servers are quite easy to implement, but getting all department members involved and having them UPDATE their material can be a real problem.

All Institutions can of course use the WWW to build a Campus-Wide Information System. The only need here is ``organizational planning'' and at least one full-time information system manager!

Very generally speaking, five main aspects need to be considered before planning involvement with WWW technology:

  1. Technological aspects (e.g. handling filters for generating HTML, Server-side programs, Data-Bases, etc.)

  2. Organizational aspects: Who is going to do the extra-work? How can we train all involved persons?

  3. Pedagogical/psychological aspects: How can we produce good course-ware on the Net? How can we build full teaching and learning environments?

  4. Media aspects: How do we ``mediatize'' existing educational content? (This is an important issue for Distance Teaching institutions)

  5. Cost: Internet access is expensive (rural areas!), producing WWW material can be quite time-consuming (including instructor's training), the students themselves do need some basic ``Internet training'' too.

next up previous contents
Next: Education on the Up: The World-Wide Web in Previous: What is Course-ware?

Daniel K. Schneider
Mon Jun 12 18:25:21 MET DST 1995