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Course Readiness Criteria - Example 6

Do the project participants have the requisite skills to conduct a large-scale project?

Large-scale redesign efforts will almost always involve partnerships between faculty, IT staff and others. Do each of the parties have the requisite skills (i.e., are they competent to do the job) and are they prepared to partner with others when necessary? Does the potential project have strong leadership? Is there evidence that the faculty and staff involved are ready to move a project forward in a timely manner?

What evidence do you have that the participants possess the required skills? For example, do the faculty have some experience with computer-based instruction beyond putting syllabi on the Web such as developing outlines and storyboards for pilot modules to use as templates upon which other modules can be built; developing computer-based tutorials on the content that is best taught by computer and diagnostic quizzes and assignments keyed to questions in the quizzes; using course management systems that can provide course-specific conferencing and threaded discussions to facilitate student-to-student and student-to-instructor communications.

Here are some examples of the ways various institutions responded to this criterion.

Pennsylvania State University

The members of the project team have a diverse sets of skills. All are excellent communicators; all have substantial experience in elementary statistics education; and all are intensely committed to the task of restructuring and redesigning the course and teaching approaches. Some possess a broad range of technical skills; some are quite knowledgeable about learning theories and assessment; and some have extensive experience with in-class learning activities and collaborative student research projects. Specifically:

  • William Harkness, Ph.D., who will lead the redesign efforts, has a strong record of dissemination of research results involving collaboration with faculty in the College of Education. A Fellow of Penn State’s Schreyer Institute for Innovation in Learning, he has 40 years of experience in teaching elementary service courses, and is recognized campus-wide for using small-group activities in a large lecture setting.
  • Laura J. Simon, M.A., has 5 years of experience in teaching elementary statistics courses. She is currently co-authoring the national, web-based, interactive, statistical course called Visualizing Statistics (Cybergnostics, Inc.) She has developed and uses regularly a web-based data collection tool for use in her introductory statistic courses. She has also developed and currently maintains the department’s web-based Statistical Education Resource Kit.
  • Robert Heckard, M.A., has 30 years of experience in teaching elementary statistics courses. His exceptional understanding of teaching statistics to less-quantitatively-skilled students has led to his development of numerous multimedia demonstrations of basic statistical concepts. He is currently co-authoring the national, web-based, interactive, statistical course called Visualizing Statistics (Cybergnostics, Inc.) He is also co-authoring a printed textbook called Mind On Statistics (Duxbury, Inc.) for a Stat 200-level course.
  • Patricia M. Buchanan, M.A., who has 15 years of experience in teaching elementary service courses, has taught Stat 200 every semester since the Fall of 1984. Having taught somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 Stat 200 students over the years, she knows and enjoys the audience. She also has three years experience with teaching a statistical computing course in a computer lab learning environment. She is currently collaborating with the Schreyer Institute for Innovation in Learning on the use of student quality teams in continuous monitoring of her classes, with an emphasis on content delivery and class administration.
  • Mosuk Chow, Ph.D., has 14 years of experience in teaching elementary service courses. In her classes, she frequently uses web-based materials, and has developed web-based case studies.

The diverse set of skills owned by the project members, as outlined above, has served the TAPS group well, and will continue to serve the group well in its redesign venture. The group will continue to use the team approach and the leadership skills of all its members in solving the current problems with undergraduate statistical education.

University of Colorado-Boulder

As to the experience of faculty in developing computer-based instruction technology, look at what we have done in the web sites referred to above! We have already developed a substantial body of such resources. For the first semester of this course, planets and the solar system, Professor Fran Bagenal has developed Java-based interactive labs (http://solarsystem.colorado.edu) as well as a distance education course (http://dosxx.colorado.edu/~kachun)(SITE NA). For the second semester of the course (Stars and Galaxies) Professor Richard McCray has developed a complete on-line hypertext, with many images, animations, and links to external sites and Java applets for constructive learning. (See http://super.colorado.edu/~astr1120/astr1120.htmlSITE NA , especially the link hypertext). The hypertext is constantly under development. This hypertext has been used to teach this course by Professor McCray and Professor Juri Toomre, both in small interactive sections (where we can gauge student response intensively) and in large (~200 students) lecture sections. We have also developed some homework problems that make use of Java applets for interactive learning and that can be submitted via CGI scripts for efficient grading and record keeping. One of our major goals with the resources of a Pew grant would be to fully build this interactive homework resource. We do, however, need additional resources to employ technical help. Particularly, we have some great ideas and resources for new Java applets and we need resources to hire Java programmers to bring these ideas to fruition.

We think that our leadership is strong. Professor McCray is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and he has 25 years experience in teaching such courses. Professor Bagenal, Associate Chair of the APS Department, has taken the lead in the Department in developing new approaches for enhancing teaching and learning in the introductory courses. Professor Schnabel is the campus leader in information technology initiatives, and we have ongoing direct contact with the Chancellors' office.

University of Pittsburgh

The University's Center for Instructional Design and Distance Education (CIDDE) has trained professionals with the right skills. In addition, the faculty involved in this initiative include several who have used a variety of technologies in their courses. One was the first winner of the Educom Medal. Another is our departmental Director of Undergraduate Education.

Among the faculty and CIDDE staff involved in this effort, we have people with experience in all of the areas listed below:

  • developing outlines and storyboards for pilot modules to use as templates upon which other modules can be built;
  • developing computer-based tutorials on the content that is best taught by computer and diagnostic quizzes and assignments keyed to questions in the quizzes;
  • using course management systems that can provide course-specific conferencing and threaded discussions to facilitate student-to-student and student-to-instructor communications; and,
  • adapting graphics, typography, video, audio, reporting of student progress, and other functions deemed important to the selected course management system.

The group includes one faculty member who leads major educational and training R&D efforts, our departmental undergraduate education director, and at least two with administrative roles in major research and service centers.

University of Southern Maine

The project leader, Dr. John Broida, has already successfully used Bravo! and Perception in his sections of Psy 101J. He minored in computer science as an undergraduate. He has been very proficient in the use of new technology that others have suggested might be worthwhile as tools to improve the interactivity and student focus of his courses. An effective communicator, he has helped others learn what he knows, even as he learns the ins and outs of new technology. With his guidance, other instructors in psychology and other disciplines are now ready to incorporate learner-centered software into their courses as well.

Because others have developed the products that we propose to use, and because these corporations provide training in the use of their products, the project can move forward quickly. We can rely, in part, on the expertise of others. Furthermore, these products are very "user-friendly" in that most people who are familiar with e-mail and word processing can incorporate these products relatively easily. Again, we have little interest in developing products; we would rather use what is already available. Thus, little specific expertise is required.

We maintain excellent relationships with the various groups that introduce and facilitate technology use on this campus, on other campuses within the University of Maine System, ULT and QM. What we do not know how to use, they teach. When we encounter a problem, we know whom to ask. On this campus, those who know how to use technology are more than helpful towards those who want to learn. Thus, it is our firm belief that we can expect technology assistance from appropriate staff for the duration of the project and beyond.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

For the past decade the chemistry department at UW-Madison has been at the center of development of new software and multimedia materials for learning chemistry. Faculty from other institutions come voluntarily and without added salary to participate in developing new materials. Professor John Moore has more than 30 years of experience in developing and using computer-based learning systems in chemistry. He is author or co-author of half a dozen published programs and multimedia collections, and he served for eight years as Editor of JCE Software, which pioneered distribution of peer reviewed chemistry software in journal format.

Several other members of the faculty and academic staff have written their own software for use in chemistry courses. One of them, Paul Schatz, has won two Educom awards.

Professor Moore has been using WWW-based tutorials and online quizzes in his chemistry classes for the past four years and has helped other faculty within the department to expand the use of these materials. He is currently collaborating with two postdoctoral fellows to create online quizzes for the entire first-year course, These are diagnostic and direct students to other resources (both computer-based and in other media). These are now being tested in his 250-student class as a pilot project for later expansion to the other lecture classes in general chemistry. Based on student feedback regarding the online quizzes, he has begun work with another postdoctoral on tutorials keyed to incorrect responses on these quizzes. The goal is to fill in gaps in the commercial tutorial material that is currently in use. Professor Moore will provide strong leadership and will move this project forward rapidly.

Virginia Tech

The Math 1114 project is led by two senior faculty members, one for the technical side involving software and database development and one for course administration and planning. With this leadership, the participation of several other faculty members, and the strong commitment of the department head, the project moved into full scale operation in the new Emporium setting within about one year. Revisions and upgrades have been part of the process all along, but these have taken place within an up-and-running operation. Within the larger university community, the department head and the dean of the college are vocal and highly visible advocates of this effort.

The faculty/graduate student development group includes individuals with a broad array of media and computer-based learning experience:

Christopher Beattie

  • amateur filmmaker in college gave some rudimentary storyboarding/scripting experience;
  • webmaster for the Math department for a couple of years preceding the project gave an opportunity for gaining basic technical skills in web design;
  • extensive experience teaching linear algebra at VT in traditional setting.

John Rossi

  • extensive experience teaching linear algebra at VT in traditional setting;
  • head 1114 course administrator in traditional setting for two years prior to project gave good understanding of logistics, scale, and intra/inter departmental issues;
  • faculty development workshop gave rudimentary cmi/web skills.

Lee Johnson, Dean Riess, Jimmy Arnold

  • extensive experience teaching linear algebra at VT in traditional setting;
  • faculty development workshop gave rudimentary cmi/web skills;
  • authors of frequently adopted linear algebra text from Addison-Wesley.

Lee Daniels

  • PhD candidate in instructional technology/education;
  • helped define learning goals and development of computer-based tutorials coherent with these goals.

Frank Taylor

  • PhD candidate in Mathematics;
  • expertise in computer typesetting - handled the transferring of the book into web format.

Consultation with the Computing Center’s Math Emporium system manager and the system manager for the Math Department provides additional expertise, particularly in database management and Web server use.