Volume 92, Issue 12

Wednesday, September 23, 1998



Surfin' the academic sea

By Sabrina Carinci
Gazette Staff

In an age where both computers and the internet are used in everyday activities, Western is keeping up the pace.

Some departments at Western are taking advantage of the internet as a new educational tool for teaching students not only from London, but throughout North America as well.

This past summer alone Western offered 11 online courses, said Roma Harris, Western's registrar. "We work collaboratively with faculties and departments to identify courses that can be offered through the internet," she said.

"This is just another way the university continues to support students who learn at a distance."

Catherine Burr, a part-time administrative studies professor at Western, said the university's experience with teaching online is fairly new and as a medium for learning, the internet can be very effective.

"I undertook [online teaching] because I was curious how learning would take place when it's not face to face," she said.

Burr has taught various administrative studies courses over the internet at Western and said she believes some topics are better taught online because more time is available for teaching. "Contact time with students is two to three times as much, but [the job] pays a lot less," she said.

According to Mary-Anne Andrusyszyn, assistant professor at the school of nursing at Western, learning to teach over the internet was sometimes a challenge for the professors themselves.

Andrusyszyn ran workshops this past summer, on behalf of the university, for professors who were taking on the new role as cyberteachers. "The workshops were to help faculty teach in a new medium," she said.

Shenan Hawkins, a first-year engineering student at Western, feels online learning is a great idea and would like to see more of it at Western. "I think it's beneficial to students like me – I have trouble waking up in the morning."

Hawkins, however, was concerned with the way in which learning might be affected by technical problems, such as a break down of the university's server.

Laura Hampton, a second-year human ecology student at Brescia, said she does not believe online learning is for everyone. "I learn through [class] discussion, not through reading," she said.

Despite the benefits online learning may give to students, Harris does not believe web-based technology will replace the face to face interactions which take place in a classroom. "The internet is only one of many new tools for educational use – the physical environment of the university is still important," she said.

To Contact The News Department: gazette.news@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998