Why?

Here are my reasons.



1. Flexible, and I know where to find them

Web pages can be used the same as handouts or anything else you might print on paper (syllabi, study guides, etc.), but why not just use paper? Well, environmental issues aside, the fact is that students have been known to lose important handouts. The web page isn't going anywhere (unless someone steals the server). There are also some things that are easier to put on a web page than a piece of paper you reproduce for your class (such as color graphics) and still others that are impossible to put on a handout (e.g., clickable links, animations, audio files).
              example



2. Class discussion becomes a 24/7 operation

It is very simple to establish an internet message board for your class. Besides providing students with an opportunity to post comments and questions they forgot to ask in class, this is useful for drawing in students who are too shy to speak in normal class discussions.
              example



3. Simplifies organization

Web pages are easy to organize, and they stay organized until you change them. Disorganized students can always count on finding my lecture outlines in the same place and in the same order each time they access the web site. (If you create a slide show with Power Point, which I do fairly frequently, itís very simple to convert it to html, which is easier to access on the web.)
              example



4. Insurance policy

If your hard drive fails, and it will, youíll lose everything you failed to back up (if youíre like me, that would be just about everything). If you have saved it on the server (which you would have to do to get it on a web site) then it is much less likely to be lost since servers are backed up automatically and routinely.



5. Links to other resources

Many textbooks now come with their own web sites, and I use them mainly for the practice tests that students can take on-line. Adding a link from your own web page makes it easy for students to access the textbook site.

            example

You can also create links to other web sites you think the students should see. Iím finding sites like this all the time. Yes, there is a lot of garbage information on the Internet, and we have a responsibility to help students separate the valid from the invalid.

           example 1       example 2



6. Easy Updates

If you make study guides available to your students, maintaining them on the Web allows you to make changes in mid stream without having to ask students to write them in or creating new handouts. In my social psychology and my organizational behavior classes this semester, I have guest speakers coming in and will add questions to the study guide based on what the speakers have to say.

            example



7.  Ready Access to Model Assignments

If you have assignments that are difficult to grasp initially, students love to see examples of work by previous classes. I find it extremely easy to copy them onto a server and create links to them.

            example 1           example 2



8. Track Your Students

Itís very easy to put a counter on a web page so that you can see how often it is being accessed. Just remember that it counts when you access your own page! WebCT allows you to see how often individual students are accessing the site. Seems sorta sneaky to me.

              here's one

9. Integrate the Latest News

The most recent addition in my classes is using the WebCT calendar function to ad links that are relevant to the topic of a particular lecture. This doesnít require WebCT, but I find it to be really easy this way. I subscribe to a couple of psych listservs and also get a weekly e-mail newsletter that contains links to Web news articles related to psychology. I always scan these and almost invariably find something I want to talk about in class. I simply copy the URL and paste it into a box in the WebCT calendar and the students now see the link when they look up that date on their calendars.

              example

10. Keep Yourself On Track

Iíll admit that the calendar is at least as useful to me as it is to the classÖI could write all these things down somewhere but I would lose them unless they were on my hard drive, and since I spend about equal time working at home as I do in the office, Murphyís Law dictates that when I need something really badly it will be on the other computer.


Don't expect me to be a role model. See what others have done.
 
 
 

Stephen M. Smith, 1/22/00