Technology Resources

December
2003
Michelle Pilati,

Technology has become a significant part of our world and continues to change the way we live our lives and do our work. The online delivery of courses is altering how courses are taught and prompting faculty to contemplate how all of their courses are conducted. While technological advances are embraced by some, they may appear to be a new challenge to others. Despite your place on the technological comfort continuum, there are online resources available to aid you in all aspects of your role as a faculty member, from course development to professional development.

The resources and tools available to you as you develop or revise a course are extensive. If you are seeking to determine where your program is lacking (i.e., what courses should you have that you do not?) or how a course typically transfers, visit www.assist.org. ASSIST (Articulation System Stimulating Interinstitutional Student Transfer) provides an accessible online record of existing articulation agreements between the community colleges and the CSUs and UCs. As stated on the ASSIST site, "This database includes UC TCAs, IGETC lists, CSU GE-Breadth lists and articulation agreements for all California public postsecondary institutions." ASSIST allows you to access the existing agreements between a community college and a UC or a CSU by both major and department. ASSIST can help you determine if a student will receive credit for courses already taken, and how those courses will apply to specific academic goals.

When developing or revising a course, one of the most useful references that one can have is a course outline. Course outlines of record are public documents and many schools have made them available online; in your search, your campus articulation officer also has the resources to issue a general call to other officers around the state. Although not currently available, a searchable database is planned to be accessible at http://www.curriculum.cc.ca.us, the ASCCC Curriculum site. Various documents pertaining to all aspects of curriculum can also be found here. Some of the colleges that currently do offer public access to their course outlines are Pasadena City College (http://mis.pasadena.edu/webcms/search.asp), Citrus College (http://www.citruscollege.edu/as/curriculum/outlines), and Solano Community College (http://www.solano.edu/webcms/search.asp). As online submission of course outlines for articulation purposes is currently being piloted (OSCAR), it can be expected that the online availability of outlines will increase.

Not only can you find ample assistance online for course development, but there are also multiple opportunities available online for professional development. The California Virtual Campus currently offers online training (http://www.cvc4.org) that focuses on the use of course management software, as well as opportunities to share teaching strategies and to catch up on the latest technological news at the CVC Professional Development Center (http://pdc.cvc.edu/common). Another exciting opportunity is provided by the @ONE Project (http://one.evc.edu), a project funded by the Chancellor's Office and housed at Evergreen Valley College. The mission of @ONE is to enhance student learning and success through the expanded use of effective technology by providing training, online resources and support. The @ONE project offers online and face-to-face training, support services, and a vast collection of online resources. The resources include online workshops, training materials, real-time interactive presentations, documentary-style video productions examining best practices and exemplary applications of technology for teaching and learning, and self-paced training tutorials for common technology applications.

In addition to finding opportunities for professional development online, there are an infinite number of online sites that provide useful information or enhancements that can be used in any class, online or in the classroom. The challenge in finding useful materials is sorting through all that which is inappropriate, inaccurate, or unreliable. Fortunately, there is a project that seeks to aid you in finding quality-learning objects. MERLOT (http://www.MERLOT.org), Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, is a searchable database of sites that are organized by discipline and rated by faculty. The site was designed, in part, to provide a forum for the peer review of online work. In addition to offering a ranking and review of sites, many disciplines have begun to add assignments based on the material in MERLOT. MERLOT also now offers a new function for members (membership is currently free but may soon be a victim of cutbacks) whereby they can develop their own collections of items in MERLOT, permitting an easy mechanism for organizing materials by course. Members can also add new items to MERLOT.

Another noteworthy project is the Virtual Instructional Designer (http://www.thevid.org). This is a project of the Indiana State University and provides resources for online course development and improvement. In order to access the materials you must become a member (like MERLOT, membership is free). As stated in the site, "The Virtual Instructional Designer (VID) is a web tool designed to assist instructors with the process of transforming online instruction and face-to-face delivery enhancement. With a variety of different informational modules, tutorials, and your personalized features, the VID is the perfect one stop source for all your instructional needs." The resources here are extensive and truly helpful.

One of the most significant things that the use of the computer can provide in any teaching situation is an opportunity for active learning. While some of the software that has been developed is expensive and complex, there are many examples of software that are not. Consider ways that you can make learning course material fun-software is available that will allow you to create interactive exercises and other tasks that allow students to exhibit mastery of course material while having fun. Halfbaked Software (http://www.halfbakedsoftware.com) is a site worth visiting. One of their products, "Hot Potatoes," has become quite popular with educators. It is described as consisting of ".six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Free of charge for non-profit educational users who make their pages available on the web."

Another product from the same company is one that is provided for free in a limited form; in order to create more complex "mazes", a software purchase is required. Quandary "is an application for creating Web-based Action Mazes. An Action Maze is a kind of interactive case study; the user is presented with a situation, and a number of choices as to a course of action to deal with it. On choosing one of the options, the resulting situation is then presented, again with a set of options.". While difficult to explain (a sort of Encyclopedia Brown activity), the appeal of this type of exercise is obvious after you have tried it. Samples and tutorials on using the software can be found at http://www.halfbakedsoftware.com/quandary_tutorials_examples.php.

The resources available for enriching any course are vast and extensive. Remember, however, that caution must be employed when adding technology to any course as you must be certain to consider accessibility. For your convenience, the following site is provided to aid you in understanding what this involves and how to achieve it:

Section 508: http://www.section508.gov/
A-Prompt (Accessibility Prompt) is a software tool designed to improve the usability of HTML documents by evaluating Web pages for accessibility barriers and then providing developers with a fast and easy way to make the necessary repairs. http://aprompt.snow.utoronto.ca/
WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines: http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/
15 tips to make your website accessible:http://www.gcn.com/vol20_no12/news/4325-1.html
Bobby Accessibility Checker: http://bobby.watchfire.com/bobby/html/en/index.jsp
WAI References on Web Accessibility: http://www.w3.org/WAI/References
Web Aim Tutorials: http://www.webaim.org/TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES

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