The Center for Academic Computing (CAC) provides a large number and variety of training programs for the University community. During the fall semester, the CAC will offer 230 seminars in addition to providing users access to over sixty Web-based tutorials. We encourage faculty, staff, and students to visit the CAC training page on the Web at http://cac.psu.edu/training and become familiar with all of our training options.
The weekend and evening seminars are opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to learn basic topics such as Netscape, Eudora, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Web page design in an informal setting. No registration is required to attend these hands-on seminars. Seminars scheduled during week days require registration and cover a wide variety of computer related topics such as operating systems, databases, statistical analysis, advanced Web courses, technology for the class room, UNIX, video and animation. Weekend and evening open houses allow users to drop in for one-on-one assistance with any of the following topics: Netscape, Eudora, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Web pages. No registration is required to participate.
Go to the training Web page listed above to view details on all of the programs mentioned in this article. This site also includes valuable links to other on-line learning resources.
Faculty, staff, and students can hone their computer skills by accessing over sixty Web-based tutorials now available at Penn State. The new tutorials cover a wide variety of computer topics, and are designed to make it possible for users to learn computer skills at their convenience from any location, including office workstations, home computers, or University computer labs. The Web-based courses are self-paced and utilize hands-on exercises and software simulations to create an effective learning experience. Topics include Microsoft Office, Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, HTML, Web site development, and Microsoft Windows NT administration.
The on-line tutorials are easy to use and customized to meet individual training needs, according to staff members at the Center for Academic Computing (CAC), the unit responsible for setting up Penn State's access to the programs. These features have been selected to ensure that students, faculty, and staff members will be able to study independently at their own pace and choose topics specific to their educational goals. The CAC expects that many Penn State groups and organizations will make use of the new Internet-based resource.
To use the new Web-based resources, go to http://cac.psu.edu/training/ and click on the "Web-Based Training" link. The "Penn State Quick Tutorials" include topics such as Eudora e-mail and using a listserv. The "In-Depth Licensed Tutorials" include courses on Microsoft Office, HTML, and Windows NT administration.
If you teach at Penn State you may have had an experience that goes something like this: You and your colleagues are discussing some of the innovative techniques that can be used in the classroom to help stimulate student interest. Someone suggests that finding a way for students to feel less inhibited when they're discussing subject material with one another in class, would be a great improvement to the teaching/learning process. You begin to speculate about whether there could be a tool that enables students to anonymously talk with each other in an informal, but instructionally guided space. In this environment you envision language students could practice speaking French, Latin, or Chinese with one another; architecture students could offer tips to fellow classmates; and engineering students could exchange ideas and collaborate on team projects outside of the classroom . . .
Surprisingly, the tool you're imagining already exists and is one of many instructionally supportive technologies offered by WISH (Web Instructional Services Headquarters) at the Center for Academic Computing (CAC). WISH is a suite of services and tools that have been developed by CAC staff to help instructors enhance classroom learning strategies. As its name implies, WISH was created in response to faculty members' requests for hands-on technologies that could be used to stimulate student interest and increase learning in the classroom.
Instructors can find the real-life version of the conversation tool described above (CourseTalk) at http://projects.cac.psu.edu/ct/, thanks to the efforts of WISH staff members, who worked together to introduce the Web-based software last year. According to CAC instructional designer Karen Peters, CourseTalk has been designed to help personalize learning and strengthen students' involvement in class discussions, by making it possible for them to converse in an instructionally guided, computer environment.
In addition, CourseTalk's discussion modes are customized, so they can be used by instructors according to individual pedagogical needs. "Faculty can take advantage of several formats CourseTalk offers," said, Peters, "for instance, a Communications instructor recently used the 'Fishbowl' format to demonstrate to students how posing questions to individuals in different ways will elicit different kinds of responses. Other faculty have used specific electronic conversation modes to encourage group debates, survey their students, and manage team-oriented projects."
CourseTalk's popularity is increasing (67 faculty members and over 3,200 students have used CourseTalk just this semester alone). However, it's only one of the items in the growing collection of technologies available at WISH. Two other tools, CourseWeb and Quiz Wizard, for example, are specifically designed to help faculty save time. CourseWeb (http://www.courses.psu.edu/courseweb), an on-line template instructors can use like a word processor, enables instructors to design home pages for their courses, without having knowledge of HTML. With very little effort, instructors can use CourseWeb to set up class Web pages, on-line syllabi, assignments, policies, schedules, announcements and more. Instructors can also instantly hyper-link their home pages to other course related sites with the CourseWeb software.
Quiz Wizard, alternatively, is an easy-to-use, quizzing tool that makes it possible for instructors to create on-line quizzes (again with no knowledge of HTML). Senior programmer Linda Littleton explains that Quiz Wizard has been developed for instructors who want students to be able to practice in their spare time with "smart," interactive quizzes. "Quiz Wizard can also be used for informal testing in the classroom, depending on the instructor's needs," she notes. Faculty members can create multiple choice, true/false, short answer, check-all-that-apply quizzes, as well as mathematical equation quiz questions with the software. Pictures, digital media and other resources can also be integrated into the quizzes.
You can learn more about the above tools, as well as access information on setting up on-line conferencing, managing newsgroups and obtaining electronic class rosters at the WISH Web site: http://cac.psu.edu/wish/. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Center for Academic Computing will offer numerous seminars designed especially for faculty and teaching assistants during the Winter-Fest 2000 seminar program. Winter-Fest will be held January 3-7, 2000 and the seminar offerings during this week will include the following topics:
Information about the Winter-Fest and Spring 2000 seminars will be available from the CAC Training Services Web page (see http://cac.psu.edu/training).
Penn State faculty can now take advantage of computer and multimedia technology in the classroom. Many classrooms have technology permanently installed, while others are served by portable Thinkpad computers or by mobile technology carts including a computer, peripherals, and an LCD projector. All three types of classrooms have access to the University network and the Internet. Instructors can access World Wide Web servers anywhere, the CAC's computer lab software, computers in faculty offices, UNIX computers, and other Internet services.
Most of these classrooms are a direct outcome of the Penn State Technology Classroom Initiative, which aims to make information technology capabilities a stable and predictable part of the learning environment and to ensure faculty and student access to discipline-appropriate, information-age classrooms. CAC operates collaboratively with Media & Technology Support Services (M&TSS), Office of Telecommunications (OTC), and Office of Physical Plant (OPP), to carry out this mission. The University Committee on Instructional Facilities (UCIF) also provides support.
Technology classrooms offer a wide range of multimedia instructional technology. At University Park both Wintel and Macintosh computers are available in most of the large auditoriums and most technology classrooms with permanently installed equipment for instructor use, while some have only Wintel computers. In addition, all Wintel and Macintosh machines now have UNIX access via Exceed and MacX software.
Technology classrooms are equipped with multimedia computers with internal CD-ROM, ZIP drives,VHS VCR players, sound systems for the media and HELP telephones. Laser disk players may be available by request. For fall 1999, all instructors' teaching station computers have been upgraded. The MACs have G3 processors with at least 266 MHz, 128 MBs of RAM. The Wintel computers are Pentium III, at least 450 MHz, with 128 MBs of RAM. All computers have very large hard drives. Within the multimedia classrooms, the video and computer displays are connected to high resolution ceiling-mounted projectors. Projection resolution is standardized at 800x600, but the more powerful projectors in the auditoria and several classrooms have 1024x768 native resolution and a maximum of 1280x1024. All projectors will handle lower resolution levels such as 640x480.
By mid-fall 1999 semester, the second video-conferencing classroom will become available. The student seating stations in both of these technology classrooms have network ports and power so that students may use their own laptop computers. These are interactive video classrooms with broadcasting and receiving capabilities with remote interactive classroom sites and other appropriately equipped locations. There may be charges associated with the use of video transmissions to locations other than those within the Penn State system on the Penn State integrated backbone. Both videoconferencing technology classrooms also have multimedia Macintosh and Wintel computers for instructional use.
Large-class computer teaching labs have been significantly augmented. Willard room 64 opened in fall of 1998, with seating for 64 students. Two new innovative teaching labs were created in summer 1999: 111 Boucke, which seats 80 students; and 214 Boucke, which seats 82 students. These two labs have Wintel laptops in custom designed tables, plus similar teaching stations. The three teaching labs have ceiling mounted projectors. The Willard lab
Book review by Carol Dwyer
A Guide to Incorporating the World Wide Web in College Instruction
If you're a novice in using technologies, and perhaps conversations about computer use seem like they are in a foreign language, this book can remove the mystique. Writing in straightforward language, the authors clearly and concisely provide explanations of the most commonly used terms and techniques. Although you won't be fully 'wired' after reading it, it's a great first step. But be forewarned that, even though the title contains the word 'instruction,' there is very little in the book about instructional potential of the World Wide Web.
Since the book is a blend of topics history of computing, components of the Internet, how to create web pages, and issues related to distance learning you can choose what is most valuable to you. If you've never created web pages, I recommend that you read Chapters 3 and 4 without actually doing the exercises. After you understand the principles, you can go back and follow the steps. One caution: Although the authors provide clear steps for getting music from a CD and creating video from a videotape, they give no warning about potential copyright infringement.
The book has a companion web site http://www.nyupress.nyu.edu/professor.html/ although at this time, the instructional examples include only a small sampling of real instructional interaction. However, it's worth a few visits for additional tips and especially the live links to the resources mentioned in the book. To complement what you learn at these sources, you should go to a web site such as http://www.whatis.com.
The Wired Professor was written by Anne B. Keating with Joseph Hargitai and is published by New York University Press, 1999, 250 pp. Paperback version is ISBN 0-8147-4725-6 and costs about $25.
Faculty who want some leads about the support provided at Penn State for teaching can go to http://cac.psu.edu/ets/presentations/TeachingResources which has pointers to many local resources that support teaching. For example, you can use the CourseWeb "templates" to create a set of web pages without learning HTML. It's easy; it's free, and email@example.com or Carol Dwyer, firstname.lastname@example.org, will help you over the rough spots.
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