|Project: Ohio History
Project web site: www.sinclair.edu/departments/hum/dunbar
Team members: John Weaver, Yufeng Wang and Thomas Preisser
After some delays, the new course in Ohio history, taught by Dr. Weaver, was offered for the first time in January 2001, to an on-campus class of 21 students. At the same time he also taught the course (non-credit) to an enthusiastic audience of 80 at a local senior citizens' center. Student evaluations of the course were very positive (75% "strongly agreed" with the statement that the course website was very useful to them in the course; 25% "agreed"; and no one disagreed.).
The team members made considerable use of Sinclair's new instructional technology center for faculty, known as the "Delta Lab," during their released time. They learned techniques of document and photographic scanning, text and graphic editing and web page design. Staff persons in the Delta Lab provided excellent advice and assistance for this activity, and team members Wang and Weaver also used to digital camera and laptop computer acquired for this project to do field research and data gathering off-campus. These pieces of equipment are now available to, and have been used by, other members of the Humanities Department to support their own courses.
The main impact of the project so far has been on teaching and learning in the new Ohio History course. Students are using the web site to research and write papers, and prepare for class discussions, on the history of the National Cash Register Company (NCR) in Dayton; the movement of fugitive slaves across Ohio before the Civil War; and the conditions of Dayton's African-American community at the turn of the century and its most famous member, Paul Laurence Dunbar. Several recently-completed student projects, including one on a turning point in Dayton history, the flood of 1913, will soon be added to the web site. The first class of students to take the course has been very enthusiastic about the availability of the web site, and have made effective use of it for a variety of oral and written assignments. (The site has numerous links to other Ohio history-related sites.) Students have also been able to locate and use a rich collection of texts and photographs that would have been very difficult if not impossible to assemble in any other way.
John Weaver plans to continue working on the Web site. One of his immediate goals is to create a "hypertext" overview of Ohio history that could serve as the platform for a distance-learning, web-only version of the course available both to Sinclair and non-Sinclair students.
In the Delta Lab we were supported by Dr. Helen Grove, then serving as chief technology officer for the college, Mrs. Sheila Morland, web graphics designer, and Mr. Mike Atkinson, computer lab technician. Sheila and Mike in particular worked closely with John Weaver to get the Web site up and running. In obtaining content for the site, we received permissions and other forms of support from staff members of the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, the Montgomery County Historical Society in Dayton, the Dayton-Montgomery County Public Library System and the University of Dayton.
Thanks to the cooperation of Mr. Gary Honnert, Sinclair's director of public information, articles about the project appeared in The Clarion (Sinclair student newspaper), February 15, 2000; The Tartan (Sinclair alumni newsletter), April 2001; and in various other Dayton area news weeklies. Mr. Honnert also interviewed John Weaver on his weekly radio program, "Community College Report," broadcast on station WONE, Dayton, Ohio, October 29, 2000.
Becoming even basically proficient in the use of various software programs took a good deal of our time, probably more than we had realized at the beginning. Fortunately, we quickly saw that devoting all our time to become technologically "self-sufficient" was not really the best use of our resources. We are definitely more knowledgeable about creating web sites now than when we began, but beyond a certain point we decided to collaborate with staff members in the Delta Lab on the technical side, which allowed us to spend more time working with content and concepts in our subject areas.
Finally, we have developed a better sense of how technology-based learning needs to be related to the diverse learning styles and levels of preparation that our students in the comprehensive community college typically have. Some are much more computer-oriented than others, and even those who are may not be that skilled in the critical evaluation of the materials that they obtain on-line. Results of some early web-based assignments have convinced John that more needs to be done in giving students good evaluative skills and practice relating to the Web. He learned more about this at a recent conference, and plans to work closely with librarians at Sinclair to address this issue.
Sinclair Community College
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