The New International Studies Classroom: Active Teaching, Active Learning

By Jeffrey S. Lantis; Lynn M. Kuzma et al. | Go to book overview

14 Learning Through
Digital Technology:
Videoconferencing,
Text Chat, and Hypertext

Jeffrey W. Seifert and G. Matthew Bonham

The explosion of computing power and the proliferation of electronic technology have brought the World Wide Web into the classrooms of colleges, universities, and professional schools.1 The results of these applications are not equally effective. We have argued elsewhere that “Webified” courses do not effectively improve learning. By Webify, we mean the “conversion of printed materials such as syllabi, handouts, and readings into basic HTML documents with little interactivity or other features, which the World Wide Web is capable of supporting.”2 In our view, students do not perceive Webified course material as enhancing their learning experience and are not impressed or motivated by relatively simple applications of a robust medium such as computer technology. Our research was based on a survey of 112 students taking Critical Issues for the United States, a multidisciplinary course designed to fulfill the social sciences component of Syracuse University's Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum. The research revealed that few students visited the course Web site on a regular basis and that fewer than half of them reported using the site to explore course-related ideas. In light of the low number of reported site visits, it was not surprising that “only three of the students cited materials related to the World Wide Web, or the course site specifically, as something that could have made the learning experience of the course more valuable.”3

Traditionally, students have been spoon-fed in the usual kind of lecture courses. Webified courses also belong to that tradition. The biggest benefit, according to Craig Merlic, who chairs a committee at

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