(Oct. 3, 2002, Gazette)
|Dr. Zainab Haruna
In todays universities, students and faculty are increasingly technologically
savvy. At Memorial, the Internet is becoming a common tool to traditional
classroom and distance education courses.
Dr. Zainab Haruna, a per-course instructor with the Folklore Department
at Memorial, is using her IT training to maximize her students learning
experience in her undergraduate Folklore courses. Dr. Haruna began teaching
at Memorial in 1996 while completing her PhD. After also completing an
IT program, she decided to apply her new skills and knowledge to her folklore
She began by referring students to relevant Web sites, but soon created
a course Web site, which included the course syllabus, lecture notes,
Dr. Haruna said that students were eager to use her course Web site; prior
to the final exam, her Web site received 270 hits. While she advised students
not to rely solely on the Web site material, as it lacked the detail and
multimedia examples presented in class, she found the site was useful
for students who wanted to supplement their own notes, or needed to catch
up after missing a class.
Students coming from high school are technologically literate. They
want to visualize what theyre told theoretically, said Dr.
For future folklore courses, Dr. Haruna plans to expand her Web site by
including short video and audio clips, an FAQ (frequently asked questions)
page, and an interactive page where students would be able to pose questions
on issues raised in class.
Such Internet discussion forums are becoming more popular as a means of
creating additional discussion outside class time. Student Kieran Walsh
found the forum an interesting means of provoking discussion while taking
an English teaching methods course for his B.Ed. in 2001. Students were
required to post a certain number of questions or statements throughout
the semester, based on in-class topics and assigned readings.
It [the forum] was an excellent way for students to interact with
the course materials outside class, particularly if they were shy,
said Mr. Walsh.
Additionally, Mr. Walsh found it an effective way for future high school
teachers to learn how to integrate technology into their lessons, and
increase their own media literacy, an important component of the current
high school curriculum.
Apart from participating in the discussion forum, each student in the
course created a Web site based on Cassie Browns books. This was
a way for students to merge literature with technology, again both as
a learning tool and as a teaching tool.
E-mail is also often used as a supplement to traditional office hours
as a way for faculty and students to communicate with each other. Dr.
Haruna says that e-mail correspondence is her primary way of keeping in
touch with students, as many prefer electronic communication due to scheduling
conflicts, shyness, and the immediacy of e-mail.
Dr. Haruna points out that creating a Web site is, in fact, a relatively
simple process. Software such as Netscape Composer makes Web site creation
as simple as basic word processing. Members of Memorials university
community can create their own Web sites free of charge through their
MUN e-mail account. And to help them upload their new Web pages to the
Internet, freeware programs are available from Web sites such as Tucows.
Dr. Haruna also recommends MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for
Learning and Online Teaching) as a useful site for instructors wishing
to incorporate online learning in their courses.
Accessibility is often an issue when new technologies come on the horizon.
However, in Dr. Harunas experience at Memorial, there have
been few complaints [from students] about lack of access or knowledge.
Equipment and support is available on campus, including several computer
centres with free computer use, educational software and helpful staff.
Students who come from communities or countries with little computer access
are able to learn quickly.
As both Memorials students and professors become more computer literate,
there is no doubt that alternate, Web-based ways of delivering course
content will become more popular.
Dr. Zainab Harunas Web site address is www.ucs.mun.ca/~zharuna/index.html.
Kieran Walshs Cassie Brown Web site is: http://188.8.131.52/e4142f00/kwalsh/
MERLOT Web site is: www.merlot.org/
Tucows site is: www.tucows.com