Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Faculty Need for Computer Competence

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Mar 20, 1999

Posted to DEOS-L 21 March 1999

Pete Holsberg wrote:

IMO, with tools like Dreamweaver and Image Styler, a faculty member can still publish what he/she desires.

There are three aspects to this:

1. I have worked with Dreamweaver and with image software. In my opinion, a fair amount of learning is required. True, these are tools which allow people to create very bad web pages and images very quickly. But the production of anything more requires a fair bit of dedication and practise - just as in any discipline. So I wonder how many instructors are likely to find the time in their schedules to do this. Perhaps those with lighter course loads could. But college or public school educators would be hard-pressed to find the many hours necessary to plan and design a site of any significance.

2. From the point of view of an administrator, I would have to ask, does it make sense to pay instructional staff to perform HTML and graphic design. Even when instructors are able to master these skills (and they can, after a time), in my experience, they work a lot more slowly than professional designers. Moreover, instructors are often highly paid (in universities, they are very highly paid). Often, graphic designers and HTML programmers may be hired for a significantly lower wage. It does not make sense to pay instructors a high wage for work which could be performed by others for a lower wage.

3. Design and imaging software continues to evolve. Dreamweaver is a relatively new product, and the current version of the imaging software I use was developed in the last year or two. Moreover, for better design (which will be possible with slightly greater bandwidth) using Flash or Shockwave, much more complex editing tools such as Director are required. It is unreasonable to expect instructors to learn the more advanced techniques (such as layering, animation, video editing, splicing, and more) required to produce the sort of product students will expect in the future.

Maggie McVay wrote, "We are rapidly approaching a time, both in site-based education and online education, when division of labor must occur. The day of the faculty member being solely responsible for content and delivery is rapidly drawing to a close." In view of the above three considerations, McVay's predictions approach certainty.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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