Monday, November 08, 2004

course packets

Sometimes, the old method works better


Having been away from school for a few years, it is interesting to return and observe the changes that new educational technologies have brought to the arena. I have yet to see any dramatic changes to the curriculum as a result of technology; the developments have taken place more along administrative lines. Instead of being required to attend every Economics course this semester, I need only attend 7, and can watch the rest from the comfort of my apartment, either on the televised replay or streaming on the computer at my leisure. We use WebCT to organize these various methods of class delivery. Previously, I had used Webex and Blackboard for classes. The Webex-structured class was an introduction to managing organizations, and the most hokey sort of goal-based scenario work to be expected from the Church of Roger Schank (oh look, they changed the name, now it's "story-centered curriculum"). Blackboard housed my online-only political science class and was basically a repository for threaded discussions and "lectures" created in Word. Using WebCT as an adjunct seems the best approach to technology integration. We have held class online, in a chat room. We have a threaded discussion board that we rarely use because in my experience students don't use those unless the teacher forces them to. And finally, we have content. Some of this content is quite extensive, and we are expected to print it out on our own and bring it to class for discussion.

I take issue with this approach. It assumes that I have reams upon reams of paper sitting in my apartment, that I have a printer capable of producing documents of considerable length, considerably fast, and that I also can afford the incredibly expensive ink cartridges required to print the articles, all other metrics being satisfied.

Since I can't meet the criteria, I'm stuck reading these articles through WebCT, which means I'm stuck at my computer. My computer is a major distraction for me. I can think of a million things I would rather be doing online than reading about the challenges facing public managers. I'm not very interested in the admnistration side of this program so far, likely because I don't work in a public organization. It probably has something to do with my personality as well, but there's not much I can do about that. For me, the added expense and frustration of printing these articles begs the question: why not just create a course packet? I'd gladly pay the $20 for one when I pick up my books at the beginning of the semester.

No comments: