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Dissemination

Drexel University

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:

  • Cera C, Lass R, Char B, Popyack J, Herrmann N, Zoski P. Labrador: A Tool for Automated Grading Support in Multi-Section Courses. Accepted for presentation at WebCT 2002, 4th Annual Users Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, July 24-26, 2002.
  • Cera C, Lass R, Herrmann N, Popyack JL, Char B, Zoski P. Redesigning Introductory Computer Programming Using Multi-Level Online Modules for a Mixed Audience. Drexel and MCP Hahnemann Universities Research and Venture Day 2002, Philadelphia, PA, May 7, 2002. Prize winner, Innovations in Education and Outreach: Graduate Category.
  • Herrmann N, Popyack JL, Char B, Zoski P, Cera C. A Preliminary Report on Redesigning Computer Programming I Using Multi-level Online Modules for a Mixed Audience, Refereed Poster Session, The Thirty-Third SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, February 27-March 3, 2002, 426.
  • Popyack JL, Char B, Zoski P, Herrmann N, and Cera C. Managing Course Management Systems, Birds-of-a-Feather Session, The Thirty-Third SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, February 27-March 3, 2002, 423.

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:

  • Cera C, Lass R, Char B, Popyack J, Herrmann N, Zoski P. Labrador: A Tool for Automated Grading Support in Multi-Section Courses. Presented at WebCT 2002, 4th Annual Users Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, July 24-26, 2002.
  • Popyack J, Char B, Herrmann N, Zoski P, Cera C, Lass R. Pen-Based Electronic Grading of Online Student Submissions. Presented at the Syllabus fall2002 Boston Area Conference on Education Technology, Newton, Massachusetts, November 4-5, 2002.
  • Herrmann N, Popyack J, Char B, Zoski P, Cera C, Lass R, Nanjappa A. Redesigning Introductory Computer Programming Using Multi-level Online Modules for a Mixed Audience. Accepted for The Thirty-Fourth SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, February 19-23, 2003, Reno Nevada.
  • Popyack J, Herrmann N. Pen-Based Electronic Grading of Online Student Submissions, Syllabus Magazine, to appear January 2003.
  • Popyack J, Herrmann N. Pen-Based Electronic Grading of Online Student Submissions, Syllabus Radio Interview with Judith Boettcher: to appear on the Web the week of January 20, 2003 at http://www.syllabus.com/radio/index.asp.
  • Lass R, Cera C, Bomberger N, Char B, Popyack JL, Herrmann N, Zoski P. Automating and Managing Large Computer Science Classes. Submitted to ITiCSE 2003: The Eighth Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, June 30-July2, 2003, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Nira Herrmann, Jeffrey L Popyack, Bruce Char, Paul Zoski, Christopher D. Cera. Experiences with WebCT in Introductory Computer Programming, in WebCT Showcase, Drexel University, October 2, 2002.
  • Jeffrey L Popyack, Nira Herrmann, Paul Zoski, Bruce Char, Christopher D Cera, Robert Lass. Academic Dishonesty in a High-Tech Environment. Special Session, to appear, The Thirty-Fourth SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, February 19-23, 2003, Reno Nevada.
  • Jeffrey L Popyack, Bruce Char, Paul Zoski, Nira Herrmann, Chris Cera, Robert N. Lass, Aparna Nanjappa. For Better, For Worse: Hitching Your Course to a Course Management System?, Birds-of-a-Feather Session, Accepted for The Thirty-Fourth SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, February 19-23, 2003, Reno Nevada.

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