Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
||Creating a Learning Resource on the World Wide Web
||Nene College, Park Campus, Boughton Green Road, Northampton NN2 3AL
||+44 (0)1604 735500
||+44 (0)1604 720636
Recently there has been an increase in Internet based educational aids for the teaching of meteorology and other topics in Geography on the WWW. These can be stimulating, interactive, have attractive designs and images, incorporate useful links to other sources of information and can be updated on a regular basis. A WWW based exercise was undertaken by our Second Year Geography students as part of a Meteorology/Climatology lecture/practical course. It was intended to practice not only IT skills but a variety of generic transferable skills and subject specific skills.
Over the course of three weeks tuition students received:
- A refresher course on the use of the WWW (2 hours)
- Instruction on how to write Web pages ( I hour)
- Help on creating their own pages ( I hour). More (but not contact) time was allocated to the Web page construction
After brief tuition students were instructed to create a 'learning resource' (or some educational instructional document) that could be used by others studying meteorology at perhaps a slightly lower level (eg. 1st year). Students were required to use the Editor in Netscape 3.0 browser - this works very much like a word processor, bypassing the need to learn complicated HTML language and ensuring mastery in less than an hour.
Topics that could be selected included
(ie very broad)
- Tropical Meteorology
- Meteorology of the Mid-latitudes
- Climate Change
Students could use materials from anywhere - an initial list of sites was circulated
- Useful Meteorology and climate gateway sites (ie sites with loads of links)
- Examples of WWW-based Met educational sites elsewhere
- Collections of sites where students could lift images and backgrounds (gifs and jpgs) without infringing copyright. Although I did mention that copyright issues on the Web are very vague (you can steal things as long as they are referenced) and hinted that this should not hold them back. Besides the finished products were not to be published externally anyway. Students were informed to incorporate active links to external sites that were relevant and also to create a link to their own e-mail address so that comments and marks could be sent from me directly to them.
Although I would not recommend that this type of assignment is done more than once in the students' College lifetime it did practice numerous skills and to some extent enhance the learning process.
Skills practised and the advantages of this type of exercise are as follows:
- Communication skills. The documents were prepared with the learner in mind and therefore clarity of language, browsability, usefulness of links, images etc were stressed. Web Documents must be succinct and divided but with opportunities to switch quickly between different parts of the document (browse).
- IT skills
- Raising awareness of the benefits of using the WWW. We are all aware of the fact that the Internet is of questionable material but careful use of it can result in the some excellent material, information and data.
- Research skills. This is related to the above.
- Appeals to different learning styles
- Creativity and graphicacy - better than a poster?
- Groupwork. It has been noticed that students have been working together on this project by sharing information and giving comments, criticism and advice on each others work (clearly something that is not often done with written work, yet as long as plagiarism does not arise then it can only be beneficial by fostering a discursive approach to the work.)
- Knowledge and Understanding. In order to develop the resource the students had to gain a clear understanding of the main points of each topic and how they are related. Clearly it is a useful skill to be able to explain concepts at a simple level in Meteorology because it indicates that a deep understanding of the holistic nature of the discipline has been achieved (rather than merely a sub-plagiarised essay answer drawn directly from an academic text in an academic style not really displaying any thought processes).
General Information on the writing of Web pages.
can be used to search for specific topics
Page created 28 February 1998
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Database pages maintained by Phil Gravestock