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May - June 1999
Thinking About People in Online Learning
Executive Assistant to the Chancellor
Marianne Woodside does not consider herself a pioneer in integrating technologies into instruction. However, her constant search for ways to improve her teaching, and her interest in developing new means of interacting with students led her to investigate ways to effectively use technologies in both teaching and learning. In early 1998, she joined with Phil Hamlin, Glenn Graber and Ron Hopson in applying for a Hewlett Fellowship. Receiving the award was the beginning of Marianne's experience with integrating computing and telecommunications technologies into the teaching and learning process.
Marianne, Glen and Phil had several goals for the Human Services 330, Thinking About People course they were slated to teach during Spring semester 1999. They wanted to use available computing and communications technologies to:
improve communication between instructors and students;
provide students a forum for increased peer interaction;
expand students access to electronic learning resources;
and, provide for students a model of professional applications of technologies for communication, collaboration and cooperation.
Marianne's experience in the Hewlett Seminar and her work with the ITC has supported her use of technology in the classroom. She has been able to use these new methodologies to reach several of her teaching goals and objectives. For example, the Thinking About People class focuses on developing an understanding of human development throughout the lifespan and exploring how this understanding guides human service practice. A secondary goal is to help students understand how this relates to their own personal lives as well. With the use of an Internet forum this semester, students have been able to share with each other their own experiences as they relate to particular life stages (such as infancy, early childhood, adolescence).
One such question the students addressed during the study of early adulthood was: "Choose an issue such as abortion, capital punishment or other social issues. Define your position as you think about the issue today. How did you think about it when you were 17? What are the differences in your thinking process?" Students not only had the opportunity to exchange responses with their classmates, but they replied to at least two of their classmates. Many of the dialogues that began through the internet have continued within the class setting.
This semester Marianne is involved in learning to use the CourseInfo course management system (CMS). This new tool allows instructors to more easily add new features to their web teaching sites. In the Fall Marianne hopes to continue her internet forum, provide students with on-line practice tests and quizzes, and allow students to check their grades any time during the semester. Although Marianne is delighted to add these new features to her courses she is clear that the most beneficial contribution of technology has been "to be able to re-think teaching and learning, re-examine goals and objectives, and reassess productive ways in which to develop a positive learning environment."
For more information about the use of instructional technologies in Human Services contact Dr. Marianne Woodside at
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