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November 30, 2001

Students reflect on Web-enhanced classes

by Diana Pounds
Faculty packed the Memorial Union Campanile Room Nov. 14 to hear what Iowa State students think about their computer- and Web-enhanced classes. The get-together was the latest Faculty Forum, sponsored by the Center for Teaching Excellence and Instructional Technology Center. Here are some of the comments from students on the panel:
  • E-mail helps open up those who are uncomfortable speaking in front of class.
  • The nice thing about a Web-based class is you can learn whenever you want. You can pace yourself.
  • Some face-to-face interaction between student and professor is important to ensure that the technology is working for everyone and that students are learning what they're supposed to learn.
  • It's very frustrating when the technology doesn't work.
  • Instructors are quite responsive to e-mail and that's very good for me, as an off-campus student.
  • For WebCT classes, the teaching assistants need to be completely in sync with what's going on in class.
  • Some online courses overwhelm students with too much information, too many links.
  • I like all the hyperlinking, because I'll be surfing all day. For students who are overwhelmed, maybe the instructor needs to say, "Here's more information, but it's not required."
  • It's very useful to be able to find a syllabus, class notes, study guides, streaming lectures and other materials on the Web.
  • The first day of class, the instructor said: "Go register on ClassNet." I didn't know anything about it. Instructors need to find out how familiar students are with the technology and show them exactly how to use it.
  • A tremendous advantage of the Internet is getting real time information. For example, you can find the temperature of the ocean in the middle of the South Pacific.
  • Technology is just one more tool the instructor has. Course content and the instructor's style of teaching are much more important than whether or not a lot of technology is used in the class.
Fall 2001 WebCT and ClassNet use
WebCT and ClassNet, two popular online learner management systems at Iowa State, are used in approximately 17 percent of the 2,400 courses offered this fall.

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