|by Linda McConnell
Teaching with technology is not a new concept, beginning in the early 1800's with our nation's first foray into correspondence schools, which used postal mail to deliver education or "correspond" with students at a distance. As new technologies arose, such as TV, computers, the Internet, and the World Wide Web, innovative educators began to see ways to apply these new resources to help meet expanding educational needs. Computers and the use of the Internet are still relatively new instructional tools, yet they are becoming an integral resource to distributed learning enabling many students to gain better access to education that might otherwise not be easily available. An increasing number of college departments are now attempting to go fully online with their courses and program, providing opportunities for students to attain a degree without ever having to step on campus. The UH Music Department is one example of this new and exciting trend.
Universities across the nation are now offering some form of online education, be it as an enhancement for a face-to-face class in which presentations, class notes or a syllabus is readily available or total web-based where communication, interaction and instruction takes place fully online. Many schools have adopted software that enables faculty to upload materials and manage students. These applications range from simple discussion boards and email tools to complex, full course management systems.
At the University of Hawaii, WebCT (Web Course Tools) is the licensed course management software used for distributing learning system wide. WebCT is comprised of a variety of tools and features that can promote interaction, facilitate communication, assess performance, engage and manage students. UH currently hosts an estimated 2000 courses in WebCT for a variety of disciplines and sections each semester.
Dr. Barbara McLain, Associate Professor of Music, program founder and current director began an innovative, online program a few years ago and has graduated the first student from California in August who received an “online” M.A. degree in Music Education. The online M.A. degree is offered via a partnership between the UH Graduate School, Outreach College, and College of Arts and Humanities. Development of their online courses was funded by $50,000 in combined grants. The program targets inservice band, choir, orchestra as well as general music teachers worldwide.
The online degree program is taught by five faculty, teaching 30 credits of graduate courses in WebCT. Instructors incorporate a variety of WebCT tools in combination with other technologies to provide asynchronous (anytime, anywhere) access to videos, mp3 libraries, voice over presentations, learning objects, printed materials, assessment tools and additional resources. Students, using collaborative tools such as Discussions, Student Presentations, Course Modules, etc., communicate, interact and present scholarly work throughout the semester.
According to Dr. McLain, twenty-four students from Hawaii and around the U.S. have been admitted to the program to date with the department receiving an ever increasing number of applications as the word of this unique, accredited online program spreads.
DLUS (Distributed Learning & User Services) a section of ITS (Information Technology Services) offers a summer institute and free semester based workshops focusing on integrating technology in teaching, incorporating WebCT and exploring a variety of distributed educational issues. To view course topics, dates and times of an upcoming WebCT or software application workshop visit our web site: http://www.dmc.hawaii.edu