In our first Commentary, Badrul Khan offers a unique perspective on technology and education. A native of Bangladesh, Khan now directs a graduate-level educational technology leadership program at George Washington University. Much of his research focuses on productive e-learning systems: electronically mediated, learner-centered, interactive environments that are based on sound instructional design principles and open to a global audience. In this interview with Editor James L. Morrison, Khan identifies the factors critical to e-learning success, describes a framework for the creation and implementation of customized online courses, and touts the remarkable potential of the new worldwide communications.
The quizzing and grading functions within course management systems (CMSs) can seem like a godsend to large-enrollment course instructors: The less time they spend giving exams, the more time they can invest in creating lessons, planning class activities, and interacting with students. But as Thomas Brothen and Cathrine Wambach report in our last Commentary, the promising technology of computerized testing has its share of practical problems. These two psychology professors utilize a personalized system of instruction in which students work at their own pace and undergo regular testing to determine their progress through a course. The success of this approach depends on regular, prompt feedbacksomething their university's CMS has trouble providing when user volume is high. Wambach and Brothen offer suggestions for coping with this problem to minimize frustration for students and faculty members alike.
As an instructional technologist at Atlantic Cape Community College in New Jersey, Cheryl Knowles-Harrigan helped develop, implement, and support more than 90 Web-based course sections each semester. In the process, she decided that students would benefit from an orientation to the institutional CMSso she set about creating one herself. In this issue's first Case Study, Knowles-Harrigan describes the development of her CD-ROM tutorial from the planning stages to completion of the beta version. The most crucial aspect of her project was soliciting feedback from students, faculty members, and key administrators during the design and revision phases. This report offers a helpful model for others interested or involved in the creation of similar training modules.
While teaching an online course in instructional design, David Cillay gave his students firsthand experience with a variety of educational technologies. He created synchronous and asynchronous learning environments, used both audio and video components to enhance lessons, and offered content in both graphic and text form to reach students with a wide range of learning styles and technical expertise; he also encouraged highly interactive participation in the course. The result was rich and sustained communication among participants from Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and the United Statesindividuals who otherwise would never have encountered or learned from each other. In this issue's second Case Study, Cillay offers tales from the class and tips for instructors interested in multi-modal course delivery.
In our third Case Study, Susana M. Sotillo highlights the benefits of ubiquitous computing in a wireless environment. Wireless networking technology frees users from the traditional classroom or computer lab and enables them to pursue academic inquiry anywhere, anytime. To investigate the potential advantages of such flexibility for group projects, Sotillo enlisted the help of five graduate students working on theses or dissertations at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Over 16 weeks, they met online to collaboratively critique and revise their academic writings. A few participants chose to work from the same room, but all document-sharing, text-editing, and feedback sessions took place through NetMeeting. Sotillo argues that the resulta highly productive team whose members depended more on each other than on their departmental advisorsrepresents nothing short of "a Copernican revolution in instruction."
At the University of Delaware (UD), a sustainable model for educational reform has emerged from two sources working in tandem. The first organization, the Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education (ITUE), is a grassroots, faculty-led program that promotes problem-based learning in courses enhanced by technology. The second organization, Practical Resources for Educators Seeking Effective New Technologies (PRESENT), is the university's technology support unit; it helps faculty members make the connection between their learning goals and customized course design. Through complementary aims and activities, ITUE and PRESENT have created a dynamic partnership worthy of emulation. Not sure it would work on your campus? Read Janet de Vry and George Watson's Faculty and Staff Development article to find yourself inspired.