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January 15, 2002

A New Methodology for Evaluation: The Pedagogical Rating of Online Courses Interesting item in which a mathematical model for evaluatig the effetciveness of a course is presented. The process sums measurements of properties along three major facets of online instruction: the use of different media, the employment of different learning styles, and the degree of interaction in the course. These criteria are supplemented with a summative evaluation that should be applied in five major areas: content factors, learning factors, delivery support factors, usability factors, and technological factors. This is a useful framework that should perhaps be given a bit more substance. p.s. Authors - when you cite your "previous two articles" in the body of an article, provide a link! It's easy to do and it avoids angering your readers. By Nishikant Sonwalkar, Syllabus, January, 2002.[Refer]

Interactive Teaching Let me call this the "email-me syndrome." It is clearly expressed in this column on creating increased interaction in a class. If you look at the list of ways this instructor interacts with his students, you'll see that most of the items contain the words "email me." This means that the vast bulk of interaction in the classroom is conducted privately in one-on-one conversations between the student and the instructor. Not only does this place an excessive workload on the instructor, it means that the contents of the interactions are not shared with the whole class. My advice: let go of the controls a little. People can post things like introductions, questions, comments on web pages and articles, and the like to a public discussion list. Students should be encouraged to solve problems, critique comments and make connections among themselves. There's no need for the instuctor to manage all the communications in a class and some good reasons why that shouldn't happen. By David G. Brown, Syllabus, January, 2002.[Refer]

Achieving the Embarrassment Level The 'Embarrassment Level' is an instructional technology equivalent of the poverty level: it is the minimum level at which institutions shoudl provide services for all staff and students. It's a pretty generous level - including ethernet and a colour printer within fifty yards - but still a pretty good guide to overall connectivity. The author should think a bit more about usage levels, too: a staff member that does nothing more than read and respond to emails is, in my view, hopelessly impoverished. By Steven W. Gilbert, Syllabus, January, 2002.[Refer]

Colleges, Fighting U.S. Trade Proposal, Say It Favors For-Profit Distance Education I didn't see this coming (I hate admitting that) but in hindsight I can't say I'm surprised. This excellent article is an overview of an attempt by the United States government to estanlish what amounts to global free trade in education by urging WTO member countries to reduce barriers such as restrictions on satellite reception, rules prohibiting foreign education providers from offering services, and taxes on foreign education providers. Not everyone is supportive, naturally. In contrast to the United States, countries like Canada have what amounts to a public higher education sector, and the effect of global free trade in education on the government supported system would be substantial, amounting, ultimately, to the privatization of the Canadian system. Yet on the other hand, countries like Australia are seeking access to international markets in China and southeast Asia as part of an overall economic development strategy. And the United States should not feel immune: just as the fluid market in software development has allowed a thriving industry to develop in India, that country's significant base in distance learning technology could allow it access to previously untapped markets in the United States and Europe. I urge all readers to take a look at this article and the full proposal (linked to in the article) and consider the impact on your own work. By Andrea Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 18, 2002.[Refer]

OpenCourseWare: Simple Idea, Profound Implications Good article tracing the implications of MIT's open courseware project. The author accurately observes, "OCW is a process?not a set of classes. This process is intended to make the MIT course materials that are used in the teaching of almost all undergraduate and graduate subjects available free online to any user in the world." The article also looks at some of the difficulties involved in implementing the open courseware project and looks at open courseware as a new model for scholarly sharing. By Phillip D. Long, Syllabus, January, 2002.[Refer]


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