Internet Column 4
Educational Impacts of the World Wide Web
Andrew Lymer, Department of Accounting and Finance, The University of Birmingham
The development of wide spread access to the global
Internet network has made it a tool that could have significant
use in education support. The development of multimedia products
in the education domain is becoming widespread - few institutions
make no use of these products now (see Active Learning 3, Dec
1995, and previous issues of ACCOUNT for examples). The
Internet offers a possible medium for delivery of these products
(see Active Learning 3, July 1995 - a special issue devoted to
using the Internet in teaching).
The next few Internet Columns published in ACCOUNT
are going to look at the use of the Internet to support education
environments. At present, of the wide range of network tools available,
the World Wide Web offers the most possibilities for use in education.
It gives the user the opportunity both to view information placed
on the web by educators, and allows for some interaction to be
engaged in. The web offers the facilities of a graphically based,
universally accessible database to developers of computer based
learning materials. The client software is freely available (to
educational institutions) and many of the tools useful to make
material development easier are available either as freeware or
shareware products (a later column is planned that will review
some of these materials). All of these things put together supply
the foundations of a unique opportunity for the computer in education.
This column provides some general comments on the
use of the web in education and provides pointers to a number
of sites where it has already been made use of as an education
support tool. Future columns will develop these ideas further
and will give more discussion to the issues that need to be considered
when planning to use the web in this way.
The use of the web as a way of publishing information
is revolutionising the way we access materials used for educational
purposes. A computer connected to the network can access information
from virtually anywhere in the world with response times measured
in seconds. The volume of information already available to this
network is huge and its rate of growth is phenomenal. In fact,
it is rapidly becoming the medium that should be the first 'port
of call' for virtually any information you may want in a classroom
or lecture from stock prices and macro statistics to introductory
text books and case materials.
Whilst at least attempting to be an ambassador for
the web's role in the future of education, I do not subscribe
to the group who believe this technology will replace the need
for universities and other educational institutions and 'centres'
of learning (by both meanings of the word 'centre'). That is not
just my biased view given I have a vested interest in the future
of universities in some form - I do not believe we have a culture
(at least yet) where 'self-taught' is likely to become a category
seen at graduation days ! Our education structures pre-higher
education do not, I believe, give students the abilities needed
for this to be possible at present. However, I am convinced that
the web will change the nature of the way we teach those who come
to us to support their learning process, and it is obviously our
responsibility to assess how we can best provide that support.
So what is the starting point for considering the use of this technology ? Sangster (Sangster 1995) suggested 2 possible ways of approaching web integration into an educational environment.
1. Student led - a passive approach analogous to the conventional library structure - provide the resources, students use it if they want to.
2. Teacher led - a more active approach where encouragement is given to use of the web by making materials available only on the web, making web 'surfing' abilities part of the basic skills learning students are given in the early stages of their courses, and showing students how to help themselves by using the network to support their own learning directly.
Sangster suggests that we can not avoid the implications
of the Internet in developing our teaching programmes. He suggests
that, whilst the first option would be the easier one to 'test
the waters', he advocates the second option as the only one that
will give us an environment where we can maintain control over
the learning process and make use of the technology.
The web is not just a tool to provide access to existing
data in more flexible, user-friendly, timely ways. This is only
one aspect of the impact the web is beginning to have. The web
is actually beginning to change the way new information is being
generated. It offers users a new medium through which to exchange
ideas, formulate proposals and generate solutions in ways not
previously possible. This medium of exchange of information offers
exciting possibilities for the educational process. I hope the
next few columns in ACCOUNT will reveal some of these, and, of
course, highlight where the problems lie.
To preview the subject of the next column, following
are a few examples of what people are currently attempting with
the web to support their teaching of accounting, finance and management.
This is just a sample of the huge amount of work that is being
performed in this area.
1. Delivery of course notes/details (syllabi, class
materials, lecture support, self assessment exercises, readings
(though not all taken from the A,F & M area,
they provide useful pointers to what can be achieved)
(though not all taken from the A,F & M area, they provide useful pointers to what can be achieved)
(http://www.city.ac.uk/~sf309/trtop.html) - see ACCOUNT 7(2)
3. Computerised Tools
5. Teaching Materials
6. Development of Web Pages in educational environment
If you are making use of the web to support your
teaching please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that I can
incorporate details of what you are doing in the next few columns.
At least two of the papers scheduled for the next annual CTI-AFM
conference in Brighton will also deal with the use of the Web
in a teaching environment.
Sangster, A (1995) 'World Wide Web - what can it do for education ?', Active Learning 2, July, p3- 8.
It is likely that some of the details given in the article will become dated over time.
Please notify the author (email@example.com) if you spot any of these changes and he will update the information where appropriate.
This page was created and is maintained by its author - Andrew Lymer: University of Birmingham.
Last amended: November 1996