Integrating Electronic Communication, Resource Access and Instructional Goals
The basis for this proposal is the instructor's independent plan to expand electronic communication and the use of home pages and the internet in all of his classes within the undergraduate program in Economic Geography (200-400 level). The occasional or regular availability of the U-Wired Collaboratory during Winter & Spring 1996 would facilitate significant components of these course plans (and be prepared during Summer & Fall 1995).
Background and Rationale: An increased use of new communication technology in the teaching/learning process appears inevitable, not merely because of the increased availability of such technology, but also due to (a) cost pressures requiring structural adjustments in use of faculty time in teaching; (b) higher tuition, students' longer wage- earning work hours off-campus and their diminished time for on-campus peer meetings and library work ; and (c) more emphasis on participatory, interactive learning,, peer teaching and the decline in the role of hierarchy in teaching.
Some of these forces pull into the same, others into opposite directions. Instructional cost pressures support peer communications and the use of the library by students. Increased tuition and living cost for students, on the other hand, make it more difficult for students to come frequently to campus and spend time here. The result may be diverse. For some students, less frequent, but intensive visits to the campus, supplemented by (remote) electronic communication and access to digital libraries may be appropriate. For others, intensive use of new technology as an experience within a peer group may be attractive. Yet there remain substantial numbers of students who might benefit from exposure to new learning styles and technologies, but are "left out" due to monetary and time constraints. Their lack of ability to acquire or maintain their computer and information resource skills makes them resentful of peers who have jumped such hurdles or of instructors who require even the most basic skills and tasks outside the classroom.
In response to these societal and economic forces, newly available technologies and the diversity of students' situations, this instructor is planning to develop in all of his classes during the 1995/1996 academic year a model which has two major components (sub-models) and hopefully results in (a) improved communications among students and between students and the instructor; (b) a "re-introduction" of library-use into the course-curriculum from which it had de-facto almost disappeared due to students' real or perceived time constraints; (c) an increased familiarity with the peculiar technology associated with modern information resources and the Internet, a technology in which universities are a few steps ahead of the 'world beyond ', yet this "real world" is quickly catching up and embracing the Internet making these information- related experiences professionally all the more important.
Collaborative Teaching-Learning Proposed
Submodel 1: Students - Librarians - Faculty This model proposes a team approach to the information resource problem in an era of a vastly expanded resource pool and modern communication technologies. The model (which is also the foundation for the Geography Department's Collaboratory Information Resource Lab Proposal) suggests that courses of the future may have designated librarian/information specialists serving basic instructional functions (introduction to library services and information tools) and liaison functions to more specialized resource persons or library departments (needed to access the more obscure corners of the resource pool).
Submodel 2: Communication and Collaboration: This model suggests three interactive environments which will take on more distinct identities in the near future and which potentially introduce a high degree of (a) choice and (b) adaptability into the realm of interaction and collaboration within a course. Choice refers to the possibility of students selecting a particular interaction mode (or combination of such modes) at the beginning of the class. Adaptability implies an ability to change the "rules of engagement" for individual, groups or all students during the (short!) quarter after computer , Internet and library skills have been acquired, computer phobias conquered or remote modem access secured. The three interactive modes are: (a) the traditional classroom, lab/quiz, office hour or reference desk (face-to-face); (b) the asynchronous distance collaboration through e-mail, news-groups and the like (screen-to- screen) appealing e.g. to students with full-time jobs, full credit loads and part-time visits to the campus; and (c) finally, the visionary "collaboratories" ("screens & faces") which combine some of the strong points of (a) and (b) with additional specific benefits, although these collaboratories tend to be capital-intensive (expensive!), possibly, but not necessarily labor-intensive and require scheduled (live) presence of participants.
Integration of Models 1 and 2: Almost all of the details of these models still need to be worked out. I am a member of a group proposal for an Allen Award (together with Timothy Nyerges and Ann Zald) which focuses on submodel 1. We are hoping to be able to design a structure for collaborative communications and information resource instruction for our courses (in my case Geog.350). Problems related to different "electronic propensities" among students including different skill levels, access , and many students' logistic (education/jobs) "high-wire acts" need to be addressed further. The development and use of home pages and their collaborative, course-based construction by students promise to be a uniquely suitable integrative device for a variety of problem-solving ideas.
Specific Course Plans for Academic Year 1995 - 1996
Fall 1995: Geography 450: Location Theories: (enrollment: 15-20) It is hoped that a stronger and coordinated electronic emphasis in this theory-oriented class will both be an incentive and a time-saving device for students thereby "getting them back into library research". Since students tend to be mature seniors and graduate students, events will take place in the classroom and (individually or in small peer groups) in front of individual screens with less need for instructor-guided collaboratories. However, this experience will be indispensable for probing my model(s) for application in Winter Quarter (Geog.207).
Geography 498 Undergraduate Seminar in Economic Geography: (enrollment 5-12). This course is designed as a "capstone" for seniors. The emphasis will be on allowing students to integrate their undergraduate experience focusing on their specializations and constructing collaborative and individual Home Pages related to their past work. During this seminar, I will be able to identify opportunities and problems associated with concurrent home page constructions involving undergraduate students as planned for Geog.207 (W'96).
Winter 1996: Geography 207: Introduction to Economic Geography: (enrollment: 80; with 1 TA; meets W&F 11:30-1:20 for lectures; there also will be "Quiz-Sections" for traditional "Face-to-Face" discussions with T.A. (M 11:30-12:20 & 12-30-1:20). I am hoping I will be able to use the U-Wired Collaboratory during the same time slots (M 11:30-12:20; &/or 12:30-1:20) for U-Wired labs ("Screens & Faces"). Other students will be able to sign up for electronic "Remote-Labs" ("Screens-to-Screens") and will not have to be on campus on Mondays. The focus of the use of the U-Wired Collaboratory will be to introduce students to electronic resources and then facilitate collaborative, project-oriented research in search of some subfield or "concentration" within Economic Geography (e.g. Geography of Tele- Commuting). It is planned to encourage students to form cooperative pairs within larger groups of six which in turn would both cooperate and compete for ultimate "Home Page Honors" and connection to the Internet. Collaboration with a (hopefully "designated") Librarian who would be available for class-, group-, and individual instruction and help, face-to-face and remote, would be at the core of these plans.
Spring 1996: Geography 350: Urban-Regional and Market Area Analysis (Evening Degree Program)
Enrollment: 15-25 of regular day-time and evening degree students. In this class, I want to make a further, but more explicit and well-organized attempt to introduce Social Studies students in the Evening Degree Program (who tend to be even less frequently on campus than regular students) to the use of electronic resources (as supplements to class materials). Here I would like to have occasional use of the U-Wired Collaboratory for the time slot: T+Th 4:30-6:50.
Electronic Experiences in Prior Courses & Evaluation of Collaborative Model
I am presently involved in the design and development of Web Home Pages for the Geography Department, for the program in economic geography and for all my assigned courses. During the past two years, I have required e-mail use by students on a regular, increasingly integrated basis in all of my classes. I have surveyed my students on their positive and negative experiences with electronic communication technologies. At this time, I am planning to use an improved but similar questionnaire for the evaluation of any expanded U-Wired, Home Page, collaborative & remote class components. A colleague from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and I have already presented a paper on our respective electronic experiences (at the 1995 National Meetings of the Association of American Geographers) and are finalizing it for publication.
June 30, 1995 [email@example.com] [#4"wireprop.sam"]