The evolution of a Web-based course : what we did and what we learnt
Ko, Ice W. P.
Wu, Madeline C. S.
Hsieh, Dennis P. H.
|Source||Proceedings of the second teaching and learning symposium, Hong Kong, Senate Committee on Teaching and Learning Quality, and Center for Enhanced Learning and Teaching, HKUST, 2004 , 17 May 2004|
|Summary||Web-based learning has become one of the emerging directions in higher education all over the world. The Web offers a vast number of resources and enormous opportunities for more effective learning. Yet, Web-based learning is in its infancy in many parts of the world including Hong Kong and many courses are still using a mixture of face-to-face and Web-based instruction. In September 2001, the Web-based course “ESCE 500 Introductory Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology” was introduced into the curriculum of the MSc Environmental Science and Engineering Program (ESCE Program) of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). This course serves to bridge the knowledge gap for those MSc students who did not have sufficient background in chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology. “ESCE 500” has been a collaboration with the University’s Center for Enhanced Learning & Teaching (CELT) and implemented as a password-protected course through the WebCT learning platform. Initially, all the course content was delivered online while the final examination was still in a written format. With our previous experiences and the students’ feedback collected from the course evaluations, we have developed “ESCE 500” and now it is the first completely Web-based course in HKUST. The Secure Online Assessment System (SOAS) designed by CELT was employed for the final examination. Our experiences echoed the advantages of Web-based learning such as relieving the students from temporal and physical constraints (the course content can be accessed anytime and anywhere), the effectiveness of interactive learning (such as the use of self-assessed quizzes, pop-ups, and video clips), and the potential of the Web that provided extensive information on related topics. We also addressed the importance of user-friendliness of the course design and collected the students’ overall comments about Web-based learning and SOAS. In addition, we confirmed it was essential for the instructor to act as a facilitator and motivator (not only as an educator), who needed to be very tactful in encouraging collaborative learning among the students through their participation in the discussion forum that was one of the most rewarding features of Web-based learning. In particular, most of our students were studying in part-time mode and they frequently had expertise related to the course content. Their contribution through the discussion forum enriched the knowledge of the course and helped to establish a positive learning environment. We posted a range of articles in the discussion forum and the students were very interested in those articles about real life or current issues that related the subjects to the real world. However, students typically did not take the initiative in these discussions and the instructor needed to generate a couple of questions from each article to stimulate discussion and invite responses. In addition, the establishment of participation points as part of the course assessment also helped in this regard. This paper summarizes our experience and the students’ expectation and learning behavior towards Web-based teaching. We believe that this course can serve as a type model for other teaching staff in higher education to meet the challenge of implementing Web-based teaching.|
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