July 31, 2007 4:00 AM PDT
Web 2.0: Big app on campus
(continued from previous page)
"Every term I would get someone coming up and saying 'Dr. Hartman, here's the paper from the five of us, but I did most of the work.' Short of rolling out the Spanish Inquisition, there's not much you can do about it at that point," said Hartman. "With wikis, I can see who pulled the load and who didn't do anything."
User-friendly multimedia communication servers are also being used for more efficient uploading and distribution of educational multimedia to specific people without the need for IT help, according to Blackburn.
With permission from copyright holders, professors are posting things like films and language lessons to university servers. They can be accessed in streaming format by a specific set of students as designated by the professor. The files are automatically deleted from the server at the end of the semester, said Blackburn.
While undergrads do still have to get up in front of the class for Texas A&M's required public speaking class, technology has made the process a little less traumatic. Instead of critiquing a student in front of the class, a video of his or her speech, accessible only to the speaker and his or her professor, is uploaded to a server. The student then watches the video and submits a self-critique, while the professor sends a private critique to the student.
Universities are not just limiting tools to professors and classrooms. Students are given server space to develop Web sites, RSS feeds, blogs, podcasts, videos, discussion boards and e-mail groups for clubs, groups and political campaigns.
And then there's Second Life. In the spring semester of 2007, Texas A&M's department of recreation, park and tourism sciences started using the virtual world to run scenarios of park ranger exercises.
Second Life is being evaluated by several instructors, 1,800 of whom met at an in-world conference in May to discuss educational best practices.
The popular virtual world is of particular interest to universities making substantial revenue from online degrees.
Walden University faculty member Kevin Jarrett, who teaches an online master's course in education, won a $10,000 grant to spend six months researching Second Life's educational potential.
"It's one thing to look at a discussion board, wikis and blogs. It's something else completely different to physically act in a 3D environment with others in your class. There is increased engagement and feelings of identity," said Jarrett.
Hartman, a member of Drexel's Second Life committee, says his school's presence is a marketing tool right now, but that in-world classes are probably only three years away.
"Just like with hybrids and the car industry a few years ago, I need to start building that car because if I wait three years, I'll miss that curve," Hartman said. "I'm building it now as a prototype, but I don't expect to take it out and race it."
7 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment