Preparation for VRoma Workshop
1. I strongly encourage everybody to read section 5
("Evaluation") of the VRoma Project
Proposal, since it encapsulates our preliminary thoughts on the importance
of assessment in the project. We are very excited about VRoma's potential to
test assumptions about the role of technology in teaching and learning (see
Pedagogical Objectives), but accomplishing this
will require both up-front planning and on-going attention to assessment
activities. If we achieve this, VRoma, besides developing important resources
for education in Classics, will make a significant contribution to the
educational community as a whole (and in the process garner valuable publicity
for Classics as well as for our project).
2. One of the xeroxed articles in the recent mailing presents an excellent
overview of what outcomes assessment is and why it is so crucial: Robert B.
Barr and John Tagg, "From Teaching to Learning--A New Paradigm for
Undergraduate Education" (Change, November/December 1995: 13-25).
The authors' emphasis on faculty as "primarily the designers of learning
environments" (24) fits very well with our role in this workshop as
creators of a new kind of learning environment (the MOO/Web VRoma). In my own
efforts to imagine the educational possibilities of this new environment, I
have found that the following on-line sources provide extremely helpful
background about cyberspace worlds:
"Technological Hierarchy in MOO: Reflections on Power in
Cyberspace" by Troy Whitlock (1994). The first part of this article
gives a good overview of the nature of MOOs and MOO activities; the second
part, less relevant for our purposes, is a reflection on the development of
power hierarchies and modes of resistance to these on MOOs (specifically
- The Evolving TecfaMOO
Book. Part I: Concepts. I found this work-in-progress by the developers of
TecfaMOO extremely enlightening with regard to the kind of planning issues that
need to be considered when designing and administering a MOO; use the table of
contents to navigate among the sections that seem most relevant.
- "MUDs in Education: New
Environments, New Pedagogies" by Tari Lin Fanderclai (1995). In this
short article, the author urges teachers not to try to replicate traditional
classroom experiences in MOOs but rather to use them in innovative ways.
- "Inside the Teaching Machine: Actual Feminism and (Virtual)
4, by Cynthia Haynes (Computers, Writing, Rhetoric and Literature E-Journal
2.1). This URL points to the fourth part of a much longer article; this section
of the article deals with the way Haynes uses her MOO (LinguaMOO) pedagogically
to foster writing activities. I found this part of the article very useful, but
I was irritated by what I perceived as the excessively abstract theorizing of
the other sections (despite my fondness for theory in general and feminist
theory in particular).
Spaces and Education, Daniel Anderson and Joi Lynne Chevalier. These pages
include both theoretical and practical discussions of the educational uses of
MOOs and Web pages. You must have a frames-capable browser to access the pages,
and I personally found the need to keep jumping between frames a bit annoying,
but I was intrigued by the detailed examples of how the authors had used the
technology in specific courses (particularly Chevalier's creation and use of a
version of a MOO called "Foreign Realms," including logs of some
class sessions in the MOO).
3. The key to effective outcomes assessment is setting appropriate learning
goals. During the workshop, each partnership will begin planning ways to
integrate VRoma into one or more courses or projects. We will work together on
writing the learning goals for these and determining how best to assess them.
The following xeroxed articles will get us started thinking about the process.
The first two, introductions to collections of articles, are short,
easy-to-skim overviews. The third is a much longer section of a closely argued
book--denser, more difficult to follow, but having important implications for
- "Introduction," Technology Assessment in Education and
Training, ed. Eva L. Baker and Harold F. O'Neil, Jr. (Hillsdale, NJ:
Erlbaum, 1994) 1-8. This article explains why technology has had a relatively
trivial effect on education to date and emphasizes the importance of assessment
as a way to change how technology is designed and to strengthen the educational
role of IT.
- "Introduction," Using Information Technology Effectively in
Teaching and Learning: Studies in Pre-Service and In-Service Teacher
Education, ed. Bridget Somekh and Niki Davis (London: Routledge, 1997) 1-7.
This article presents some of the social and psychological factors relating to
the uses of IT in education and discusses how action research (i.e., teachers
investigating and reflecting upon their own practice) will promote more
effective integration of IT in both teaching and learning.
- Diana Laurillard, Rethinking University Teaching: A Framework for the
Effective Use of Educational Technology (London: Routledge, 1993). Because
of Laurillard's somewhat complicated use of terminology, I have included the
book's glossary (266-71); in the workshop, I will try to unpack her argument
and clarify/exemplify its application to our project. I have sent you three
- Chapter 6, on hypermedia, cautions against overenthusiastic assumptions
that brilliant technology will automatically result in student learning (one of
her examples is Perseus). I also include a "Postscript" (176-78) in
which she summarizes and charts her discussion of various other media. This
caution underlines our need to pay close attention to the role of the teacher
and the learning context instead of concentrating solely on technological
- Chapter 10 emphasizes pedagogy, addressing the importance of rational
planning: defining learning objectives and designing learning activities, both
of which will figure in our workshop.
- Chapter 11 discusses how to embed technology in education by providing
learning contexts that will give students the support they need to derive
maximum benefit from their use of the materials.
4. The VRoma Links for Participants page
lists a number of on-line articles dealing with assessment and pedagogy,
including the following:
Barbara F. McManus, VRoma
Director of Assessment
- "Asking the Right Question: What Does Research Tell Us about
Technology and Higher Learning" by Stephen Ehrmann (1995). This article,
originally published in Change (March/April 1995: 20-27) addresses the
role of assessment in determining effective teaching/learning strategies and in
deciding which technologies will best support these.
- "New Times
Demand New Ways of Learning" (Plugging In: Choosing and Using
Educational Technology by Beau Fly Jones, Gilbert Valdez, Jeri Nowakowski, and
Claudette Rasmussen, 1995). This article presents and discusses charts of
classroom variables, indicators of engaged learning, and indicators of high
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