More professors require Internet access for classes

Joanna Dornfeld

Either by creating their own Web page or utilizing the WebCT software supplied by the University, more and more professors require students to access the Internet on a regular basis.

Junior biochemistry major Kris Sparks ran into trouble when a class last fall required her to post messages on the course Web bulletin board at least once per week.

“I had to find a public computer wherever I could,” she said. “We had a week to do it. I couldn’t do it if it was an every other day thing.”

The University first began to support the WebCT software in 1999. That year, 134 course sites were created with 5,050 students utilizing the resource, said Linda Jorn, Digital Media Center director.

Last April there were 937 course accounts and 47,216 registered students. Some students are registered multiple times if they have more than one course using the software, she noted.

It costs $28,000 to license the program for the campus all year.

Kathleen Barlow, an anthropology professor, began using the software last fall for her Introduction to Cultural Anthropology course.

“It really improved communication with students,” she said.

About 200 students are enrolled in the class this semester, which makes it difficult for Barlow to get to know every student.

She posts assignments, handouts and lecture outlines on the site and utilizes the bulletin board and grade posting capabilities of the software.

“We have a class discussion for the sections,” Barlow said. “We have kind of a discussion before the discussion.”

Barlow makes allowances for students who do not have ready access to the Internet.

“We usually try to make that inconsequential to them,” she said.

Theoretically, her students only need to access the site once per semester to print out all the assignments and handouts.

Melissa Martyr-Wagner, technology project coordinator for the College of Liberal Arts, said generally Internet access is not a problem for most students.

“Most of the freshmen have fast access,” she said. “The labs on campus generally have very good technology and they are very available.”

Students are also able to reserve time in campus computer labs in advance.

Academic and Distributed Computing Services plans to open a 24-hour computer lab in Coffman Memorial Union next fall and a lab in Walter Library next January if they have the resources to staff them, said Shih-Pau Yen, ADCS director.

 

Joanna Dornfeld welcomes comments at [email protected]