Internet Column 4

Educational Impacts of the World Wide Web

Andrew Lymer, Department of Accounting and Finance, The University of Birmingham

(a.m.lymer@bham.ac.uk
http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/business/)

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 etc):

  1. The World Lecture Hall - host to a range of programme notes and details in the areas of accounting, finance and MIS particularly. (http://www.utexas.edu/world/lecture/)
  2. Dr. Brancheau, University of Colorado
    (http://www.colorado.edu/infs/jcb/class/syll4130.html)

  3. Dr Bento, University of Baltimore
    ( http://ubmail.ubalt.edu/~abento/index.html)

  4. AI/ES teaching materials ( http://www.bus.orst.edu/faculty/brownc/aies/teach.html)

  5. Open University 'Virtual Study' (http://www-tec.open.ac.uk/systems/st.html)

  6. Alan Sangster ( http://www.abdn.ac.uk/~acc025/ma1notes1.html)

(though not all taken from the A,F & M area, they provide useful pointers to what can be achieved)

2. Cases

  1. ISWorld Cases ( http://www.isworld.org/isworld.html

  2. Trent Engineering (City University Business School)

    (http://www.city.ac.uk/~sf309/trtop.html) - see ACCOUNT 7(2)

  3. Dr. Hayne ASU Cases (http://www.west.asu.edu/hayne/cis502/cases.html)

3. Computerised Tools

  1. J.P. Morgan RiskMetrics Risk Management Tool (http://www.jpmorgan.com/)

  2. Audit Tools eg the Hyperlinked model of financial statement auditing (http://www.efs.mq.edu.au/accg/resources/abrema/index.html)

  3. Educational Tools eg QuestionMark WWW testing and surveying tool (http://www.demon.co.uk/qmark/)

4. Databases

  1. SOSIG ESRC Database ( http://sosog.esrc.bris.ac.uk/)

  2. EDGAR (on-line accounting information - http://www.sec.gov)

5. Teaching Materials

  1. Accounting firm's bulletin pages (see SUMMA pages for links) ( http://www.icaew.org.uk/)
  2. On-line Corporate data (see SUMMA links as above)

6. Development of Web Pages in educational environment

  1. See the details of the Lessonware project at the University of Brighton (http://www.comp.it.brighton.ac.uk/w3lessonware/)

If you are making use of the web to support your teaching please email me (a.m.lymer@bham.ac.uk) 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.


This article appeared in ACCOUNT Vol. 8, No. 1 (Spring 1996) p9-11

It is likely that some of the details given in the article will become dated over time.
Please notify the author (a.m.lymer@bham.ac.uk) 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