Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Using the Internet: Concept to Classroom

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Using the Internet: Concept to Classroom

Article excerpt

While the development of information technology accelerates, education professionals find themselves buried under a deluge of more powerful and more complex instructional tools. As the Information Age explodes into the 21st Century, emphasis in the classroom continues to shift from teaching to learning, while the role of the teacher moves from instructor to facilitator. As informed professionals, most educators are willing to try new technologies and to adapt to a variety of roles, but their success depends on accessibility to equipment, opportunity for technical training, and reliable technical support.

* The Technological Deluge

Until three years ago, Georgian Court College, a small independent college with limited resources in dollars and people, was moving at a steady but moderate pace in acquiring computers and building a networking infrastructure. Technological initiatives, though encouraged by the college's president, Sister Barbara Williams, depended on hardware accessibility and supplementary funding. One college goal was to provide each full-time faculty member with a PC workstation. Another was to make electronic mail available campuswide. Faculty training needs were limited to basic computer concepts, keyboarding skills, word processing and electronic mail.

Suddenly, within the past three years, an infusion of state, federal and corporate grants augmented the college's investments. This enabled Georgian Court College to connect to the Internet, to establish a multimedia lab, and to obtain equipment for such technological ventures as interactive distance learning. Campus accessibility to multiple technologies was no longer a problem.

As a result, training needs increased greatly in the areas of PC automation (off-the-shelf software), intercampus networking, the Internet, multimedia and interactive distance learning. Priorities were established to provide appropriate training in all of these areas.

* A Team Approach

With faculty clamoring for Internet access and training, the Dean of Academic Affairs, Sister Marie Cook, the Dean of the Graduate School, Sister Mary Arthur, and the Director of Information Systems, Neil Belles, decided to take advantage of their enthusiasm. Training on use of the Internet, more specifically the World Wide Web, was made a top priority. The intention was to make faculty, administrators and support staff as self-sufficient as possible.

Selecting Netscape Navigator as the campus' standard Web browser, Information Systems staff loaded it onto computers in one of the open labs. At the request of faculty, Information Systems agreed to delay student access to the Internet until a critical mass of faculty and staff members achieved enough of a working knowledge of the Web to properly support students.

* Building a Resource Pool

The Information Systems staff designed a basic level workshop, called "Netscape Navigation," that introduced Web concepts and terminology, URLs, parts of the browser's screen, navigation skills, search engines and printing. A copy of Using Netscape, published by Que, was provided to each department as resource material. To allow enough lab time for learning, experiment and practice, the workshop's length was three and one-half hours.

To build a Netscape support resource pool, Library and Information Systems staff were the first targeted for training. From this point on, workshops were offered to faculty, administrators and support staff. Although attendance was voluntary, a total of 17 workshops were held in the fall semester of 1995, plus five in the spring and three in the fall semesters of 1996.

To attend a workshop, one filled out a form via e-mail, selecting the most convenient session and identifying one's computer-skill level as novice, average or expert. Participants were grouped by skill level, even if that meant holding additional sessions. …

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