DePauw University Winter Session Symposium, January, 1998

Scott E. Siddall

Substitution versus Addition; Web to the Rescue!

Supporters of collaborative learning tell us that many students learn well, if not best, in a social setting, yet many of our colleagues place high value on traditional, lecturer-recipient classroom experiences. Clearly, students learn well from the lectures of our best teachers, but information technology surrounds us with opportunities to learn collaboratively.

For the last three years, following our Summer Institutes in Academic Information Resources, faculty at Kenyon College have engaged with these tools by substituting collaborative web projects for much of the traditional lecture-based syllabus. We have not digitized our lectures but rather have focused on substituting collaborative web projects for more traditional classroom experiences. In doing so, we have not had to invest unrealistic amounts of time learning new technology, but we have in many ways transformed the learning process.

Examples are given not only about the technological products from the classroom, but also on the learning outcomes, the potentials and pitfalls of group thinking, the second- and third-generations collaborative web projects, the conversations conducted in anonymity, all of which have helped us discover that students and faculty alike are learners, and that we can teach and learn in many more ways, and more often, than tradition would suggest. In particular, the role of the instructor is changed when students design, develop and publish their arguments on the Web. This "proximity learning" is the intense and stimulating exchange of information and ideas as students work in a face-to-face setting enhanced by technology.

Please visit the Kenyon College web site to browse selected collaborative projects: