How would you assess the transferability of the re-design approach you employed to new subject areas or disciplines?
The general framework we are using could be transferred to other disciplines, particularly to disciplines where group work makes sense and where a defined body of knowledge can be learned by students in an online format. The group work is particularly useful in settings that involve problem-solving and analytical thinking, where a written answer or report can serve as a good “deliverable” resulting from the group’s efforts.
We have developed several software tools that make interfacing with WebCT much easier, as described above in Section 2 (Labrador, quiz software, chat session software). Labrador could be customized to handle other types of files (e.g., English essays) and to interface with other external software packages (e.g., grammar and plagiarism detectors). Additional tools are being developed to help reduce the work in managing large courses using WebCT as the need arises. These tools would also be made available to others.
We plan to extend this hybrid approach to course delivery, which includes both online and in-class components to the entire computer programming sequence, comprised of the Introduction to Computer Science, Computer Programming I (the focus of the current re-design project), Computer Programming II, and Data Structures. We are also involved with the Software Engineering program, which is developing a programming sequence. We have begun to re-design the prequel and sequel courses along the same lines as Computer Programming I (Introduction to Computer Science and Computer Programming II).
December 2002 Update: We are planning to transfer the re-design approach to mathematics courses, particularly statistics courses which have a similar structure to computer science: multiple audiences covering the same material but at different levels of knowledge and at different rates of speed. In addition, the need for examples from the student’s field is important. All of these features can be handled by copying the general approach used by the computer programming redesign.
How are you disseminating the redesign among your colleagues?
We have established a course Web site. We are presenting the preliminary results of our work at educational conferences such as the SIGCSE (Special Interest Group in Computer Science Education) and WebCT conferences. We also participated in the Drexel Research Day with a poster on this project that won first prize in the Education and Outreach Category. Internally to Drexel, we have participated in faculty development events to show other faculty ways that WebCT can be used to enhance their teaching:
Colleagues at the SIGCSE conference were very interested in the course re-design, particularly in the opportunities for enriching the experiences of students without over-taxing faculty by the “capital” for “labor” exchanges made possible by course management software and the use of multi-level modules. The notion of creating a core course that is flexible enough to handle students from several majors with parallel requirements but at differing skill levels was particularly appealing. Consolidating such courses and having subject-oriented examples in the online materials can help moderate faculty effort, again resulting in an overall savings.
Colleagues internally to Drexel are interested in the process used for the course re-design more than our specific materials since they are usually in other fields. Colleagues are primarily interested in the approach: finding a feasible path to course development using “commodity” materials such as WebCT; that is, course management software that can be purchased off the shelf. Colleagues are looking for ease of use and how much support is needed to use technology on a day-to-day basis. A big concern is that the time factor is in control so faculty do not burn out and have time for other essential responsibilities.
December 2002 Update: We have presented our redesign at various seminars at Drexel and offered to help people copy our redesign. Currently, a faculty member in Culture and Communication is interested in testing our Labrador Software to access student work in his courses for both grading and plagiarism detection.
We have also presented our work at various conferences to positive comments. Recent dissemination activities include:
Program in Course Redesign Quick Links: