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bullet Innovation Projects

The following projects will develop online approaches and materials to support courses or modules

The nature of the individual courses is anticipated to vary considerably in the emphasis they put on the various tools within Blackboard and each may also employ other internet technologies. The first run of the WOCC programme will also serve as an appraisal of the Blackboard virtual learning environment, of the issues of supporting virtual learning environments generally and of the WOCC programme itself as a model for supporting this type of course and staff development.

Some of these projects were already in the initial thinking stage before WOCC was devised and would have been supported as individual projects but fit well into the WOCC development framework. Most see these projects as pilots for a procedure which may be applied to additional modules and courses. The programme has successfully represented a mix of different types of courses and, less successfully, as much spread across the disciplines as possible.  Subsequent runs of the programme may focus on individual departments as there has been some interest in that approach.

This year, there are 9 projects, 7 of which are detailed below. 

1. Lunchbytes - Seminars in Scientific Computing

Mike Allen - Centre for Scientific Computing
number of students: 20
student type: postgraduate
type: in support of traditional
location: on campus teaching

This will be a new, informal, series of seminars on topics in Scientific Computing for postgraduates across the science faculty, starting in the Spring. Each week, a staff member will give a one hour seminar introducing a technique or methodology related to their research which s/he believes could be of wider interest 

The online facility will feature exchange of documents (PDF files) and program source files (text), bulletin boards, email, possibly chat rooms, hypertext links to ancillary sources of information, student upload of demonstration files for subsequent download.

2.  Problem solving in Engineering

Daciana Udrea - Engineering
student type: undergraduate
type: stand alone
location: on campus

A Web structure for a collection of Engineering related material. This project is attempting to address the the duplicated and re-written of material every year by different people and the main idea is that these pages could subsequently be incorporated into seamless courses by other academics without the need to re-develop any of the existing material (just to add to the "web database" or arrange the material in different order).

It is unlikely that Blackboard can serve these needs but the content management system currently being scoped by eLab may be well suited.

3. ICT in the Classroom

Alan Pritchard - Institute of Education
number of students: 100+
student type: undergraduate
type: in support of traditional teaching
location: local and remote

A short course for students to follow as a part of both the BA(QTS) and the PGCE Primary programmes.

The short course would give students information and examples of the use of ICT in classrooms, and be closely related to the requirements for being awarded Qualified Teacher Status. These requirement expect students to be confident and competent with basic computer applications, and to be aware of and practised in the pedagogical issues surrounding the use of ICT in primary schools. This would not be a skills course for IT. It would enhance the students' experience of using on-line materials, and it would introduce them to important considerations of ICT use for enhancing learning across the curriculum as well as issues surrounding their use, such as: classroom management, research evidence, ICT support for the core subjects of the Schools National Curriculum.

4. The Internet & Democracy

Peter Ferdinand - Politics and International Studies
number of students: 18
student type: undergraduate
type: in support of traditional teaching
location: on campus

This would be a new course offered to 3rd-year UGs. Given the nature of the subject, large parts of it would have to be available on-line. 

This will feature lists of links to Web-sites of various kinds of institutions, so as to provoke reflection and analysis. Chiefly it would focus on political institutions in the US and the UK, but it need not be confined to these. These would include Web sites for government, for political parties, parliaments, individual members of parliament or Congress. It would also include some analysis of the way that the traditional media - especially the BBC and newspapers - take advantage of the new technology to change their coverage of politics and how far do the commercial interests of existing Web portals drown out issues of public interest?

It would also need to look at electronic voting, including some consideration of the technical issues involved, and issues of on-line privacy and confidentiality.

Since the Internet can also be used as a forum for debate, the course would involve some student case experience in on-line discussion, as well as how to moderate debates.

Then the course will analyse ways in which the Internet might be used to help spread democracy in other parts of the world, e.g. the e-programme of the Carnegie Endowment. That could also involve consideration of ways of getting round censhorship, e.g. mirrror sites, etc.

5 LL M in Law in Development

Sam Adelman - Law
number of students: approx 100
student type:postgraduate
type: in support of traditional teaching
location: local and remote

A core course, two options and a dissertation. The degree will be part-time over two years with a residential component either here or at "nodes" in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

We intend to create a virtual community facilitated by noticeboards, discussion rooms, streamed video and audio content, etc. The site will contain "live" seminar sheets with links to other sites and materials, etc.

The dissertation will be supervised online.

This project will not use Blackboard but Lotus Domino and Learning Space running on a server in the Law department.

6. BPhil(ed) degree for Kenya

George Raper - - Institute of Education
number of students: 50 so far
student type: postgraduate
type: in support of traditional teaching
location: remote

A distance learning course for teachers in Nairobi, Kenya has already been developed. This has been delivered by post, e-mail and a one week visit for each module (every 9-12 months). The first cohort have been awarded the degree. Interest has been expressed by other centres in East Africa and a few neighbouring countries have sent teachers to the Nairobi sessions. This expansion will require more flexible and imaginative delivery and a web based system seems a possiblity,

The approach, if successful may also be used to support a European Union sponsored project looking at ways of developing distance education in science across Eurobe and beyond.

7. Discrete Mathematics I (CS127)

Alexander Tiskin - Computer Science
number of students: 210
student type: undergraduate
type: in support of traditional teaching
location: on campus

Discrete Mathematics I is a core course for first-year students in Computer Science, Computer and Management Science, Computer and Business Studies, Philosophy with Computer Science - altogether a group of more than 200 students.

The course comprises lectures, seminars and revision classes (given by graduate students), and an examination. The amount of material and the number of people involved make this course quite challenging both from an educational and an organisational point of view.

Currently, the course has a website: which serves for distribution of lecture notes, slides, problem sheets and model answers. There is also an online sign-up system for seminar groups and a newsgroup.

The goal of thus project is to use the new technology to streamline and improve the on-line presentation of this course, e.g. adding extra facilities for seminar tutors to communicate with the students, and making the seminar sign-up system more flexible. Eventually, the developed Blackboard course would replace the three URLs listed above.

Beyond Warwick

bullet Spoilt for Choice
Online courses are ten-a-penny but how, asks Geoffrey Davies, do you go about producing them, making them pay and, crucially, getting students to log on in the first place?

bullet Virtual meetings of minds can work
It may not have the personal contact, but for David Eastment the first fully online ELT conference has other compensations 

bullet A cool way to learn

From Lapland to the Yukon, students in the frozen north can benefit from a new online university. David Cohen reports.

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