CONTACT: SCOTT HAUSER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
UI students take 'virtual' tours and learn how to set up websites
in new program
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- More than 2,000 new students are expected to take
"virtual" tours of the University of Iowa while learning how
to navigate the World Wide Web, set up their own websites, and use other
communications technology this fall in a new, interactive orientation course.
The students, nearly all of whom are first-year or transfer students,
have signed up for the course, called "OnLine at Iowa," as part
of an effort to help students get acquainted with campus while beefing
up their computer skills.
The students will earn one semester hour of credit if they complete
the program. Students who sign up for the course buy a CD-ROM, much like
they would a textbook, and complete the segments -- including the rudiments
for creating their own websites -- as an online tutorial.
Creator Bob Boynton, professor of political science, (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)
thinks the course is the only program in the country designed to combine
the elements of a traditional campus orientation with an introduction to
the electronic resources of a university.
Many universities use interactive technology to teach students how to
use electronic resources, but few, if any, others combine that technology
with a general orientation to campus, he says.
"The idea is to introduce students to the campus as a place of
electronic communication," Boynton says. "Students will learn
how to use the electronic tools that they will need to function well at
the University and outside the University, but in the process, they will
learn specific information about the University."
About 120 students tested the class last school year in a in a pilot
project designed to see how well the tutorial system would work for large
groups of students. The pilot project also won the top prize in Microsoft
Corp.'s 1997 Innovators in Higher Education Challenge.
Working from the CD-ROM, students take an interactive tour of the UI.
With the click of a mouse students can follow maps to buildings such as
Old Capitol and the Pappajohn Business Administration Building. They also
can "tour" the Main Library, or find out information about campus
offices and programs.
The disk also includes electronic communications software that gives
students access to the Internet. By following the tour, students learn
how to find and visit sites on the World Wide Web, how to design and put
up their own website, and how to send email.
As they work through the CD-ROM, students are asked to complete a series
of tasks that require them to use their electronic skills. At the end of
each task, students send an electronic note to a central database, indicating
they have completed the assignment.
The CD-ROM will also include online help for students to turn to if
they need it.
Note: Students in the course this fall will launch the tutorial using
a CD-ROM this fall, but the basic elements of the course are currently
accessible at http://www.uiowa.edu/~online