by Jane Shulman
Concordia is making the most of advancements in academic technology by
integrating the Internet in courses and offering professors interactive
tools that will help them reach more students.
By the end of next year, Andrew McAusland, Director of Academic Technology
in the Faculty of Arts and Science and new Executive Director of IITS,
says that 40 to 45 per cent of courses in the Faculty will have an online
Some will have the course syllabus posted, opening up the possibility
for professors to add other material in future. Others will have additional
course material, links and resources, and several (35-40) course Web sites
will have video feeds available for students to view lectures online.
The idea is to have a presence and then build on it, McAusland
explained. Professors will have access to the Web regardless of the computer
platform they use to paste and upload information to the Web sites for
students to use. Professors can add to or change the information whenever
McAusland explained that students now expect more from their courses,
and Concordias answer is to create an added-value marketplace,
offering students video lectures or extra material to enhance their learning.
Making class time more productive
This kind of value-added course is different from distance learning, which
has no class time, and relies solely on video and online resources. The
value-added philosophy centres on making class time more productive for
students and making it easier for them to find information beyond the
In the added-value market, students pay attention, take fewer notes
and are perhaps more engaged in the lecture because they know they can
have another crack at it, McAusland observed.When students are better
acquainted with the course material, it creates a context for more
questions the following week, and its in fact more interactive in
a live sense.
Video lectures enhance learning
There are nearly 900 hours of video online at this point, mostly from
history, political science, pyschology and statistics courses. Academic
Technology is filming 10 courses this term, and lectures are posted within
12 hours of being recorded.
The lectures are indexed, so that students can find specific parts of
lectures that they would like to hear, or they can listen to lectures
from beginning to end.
McAusland said that this technology even benefits people who dont
have their own computers. There are 65 terminals for students to use at
Loyola, as well as an Arts and Science Learning Centre at SGW. When the
Learning Centre opens in May 2001, both labs will have extended hours
for students with full schedules.
Reeta Tremblay, chair of Political Science, said that students in her
department are responding well to the integration of the Internet in several
of the departments courses.
She said that Political Science, a department with an open-door policy
and 1,100 students of different backgrounds, is an ideal place to use
Our objective is to bring students up to speed, and give them an
opportunity to learn at a slower pace if they want to, Tremblay
Her department offers both Web-assisted and distance learning courses.
The Web-assisted courses are divided in half. Each week, there is a videotaped
lecture that students watch online, and a conference class, where students
meet to discuss the readings. Distance learning classes are held entirely
online, except for exams, which are written at the university.
Tremblay said that students tend to perform better and earn higher grades
in Web-assisted classes than in traditional classroom-based courses, probably
because they are able to move at their own pace and access the material
whenever they need to. She said students readings are at more advanced
levels, and their discussions on online message boards, another component
of the courses, tend to be more sophisticated.
While some professors might be concerned that being filmed will cramp
their style, McAusland said its important that professors teach
as they would normally, and try to forget that the camera is there.
The professor does nothing different. We just videotape the lectures
and let them use their expertise, McAusland said.
Too often professors sacrifice their expertise by changing their
pedagogical approach to suit a particular technology. They can think about
developing the site afterwards, but the video serves as the core
it represents the teaching itself.