Vol. 5. No. 1 INT April 2001
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Interview with an Online Instructor (Part 3)

Jim Duber
duber dot com

JD: So it sounds like your students needed either to be fairly tech-savvy to begin with, or by the end they were certainly tech-savvy. Did they have a requirement of, for example, knowing how to make a web page, or knowing how to scan a document, or knowing how to use concordance software?

MS: I was told when the course began, or before the course began, that all of the instructors were tech-savvy and would have the ability to create simple web pages, for example. This turned out not to be exactly true. But it was primarily true, and most were capable of doing not only basic web pages, but in some cases, some fairly sophisticated web pages. In terms of the concordancer, none of them had had a lot of experience with that and I found that I had to, in fact, write some supporting documents sort of midstream to put on the course website to help them kind of wade through what a concordancer does and what the output means and ways in which that could be used. But, I think it was the most popular part of the course because most of them had heard about concordancing, or maybe had read an article or talked to a colleague about it, but really hadn't had hands-on experience. And, I think they were kind of both surprised and amazed at the output that these databases can give for authentic language.

JD: That's great. You mentioned the course website--can you talk about that, especially issues that you faced in developing the course?

MS: We used the WebCT platform, which UC Berkeley sort of donated for the cause, or at least gave space to us to run the course for free, and this classware, or courseware, whatever you want to call it, software integrates quiz, bulletin board, chat, and all kinds of other web functions into one package, as well as the ability to keep track, of not only quiz scores but also how often students are logging in, if they're reading the bulletin board postings, how many times they responded, and so forth. So it creates a nice integrated package so you don't have to gather together little bits and pieces on your own to make your own web site. The other thing that was nice about it is it's very flexible and so when I needed to add additional material, I could do so really quickly and easily as the table of contents structure in WebCT is flexible enough to allow for quick insertions and reorganization really on the fly so all I would need to do is send a notice out to students that something had been added and they could go and look at new material there.

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