UC's Cyberspace Classroom

Inter-Campus Instruction Will Benefit From New and Rehabilitated Electronic Links

UC will spend nearly $3 million over the next two years to begin electronically harnessing the intellectual resources of its professors systemwide by creating and improving video and computer communication links between all nine campuses.

Among the instructional efforts underway is one at Berkeley led by Charles Woodson, associate professor of education, who is developing a course on the uses of the Internet as a resource for academic and scholarly research. The course will be modeled after one in use on the Berkeley campus.

Woodson will be working with diverse faculty from other campuses to contribute materials to the universitywide Internet course. Students from any campus may enroll and faculty will then assist them through email dialog.

In another example, faculty from San Francisco, Berkeley and Davis will join together to develop tools for anatomy instruction using the World Wide Web.

Led by Hugh Patterson at UCSF, the effort will include use of databases containing laboratory results, photography and MRI and CAT scans.

"The University of California must assume a leadership role in applying new technology to all of the university's missions, including teaching," said President Richard C. Atkinson.

"It must develop the educational philosophy, the organizational capability, and the technical structures that will establish the university of California as a model for the 21st century university.

"The universities that use these technologies most successfully will be the universities that attract the best students and UC faculty," he said.

In an informal survey of faculty, 46 percent of the 1,227 respondents reported using email office hours in addition to traditional meetings with students. Thirty-one percent said they prepared course materials by accessing information from remote sites like the World Wide Web.

The Office of the President spent $1 million on communication network upgrades last year and has earmarked another $2 million for continued improvements over the next two years.

Nearly $1 million also has been set aside for an Intercampus Academic Program Incentive Fund, which encourages faculty to develop and implement strategies for instruction across campuses, particularly those utilizing interactive technologies.

The incentive fund supported 27 programs last year that used technology to develop collaborative courses using distance technologies, course materials or intercampus programs.

To assist its overall effort, UC is currently considering developing its own communication network because existing private networks aren't fast enough to allow more faculty to conduct telecourses between campuses.

The network will allow wider distribution and exposure of technological and research innovations that are already taking place throughout the system.

"By virtue of our scale we have the best opportunity among other research universities to demonstrate the potential for increasing the quality of teaching through instructional technology," said Elliot Brownlee, special adviser to the provost in charge of coordinating the university's instructional technology efforts.

"Because our nine campuses increasingly see themselves as one university, we have the capability to take the national lead on developing instructional technology."

Campuses throughout the system are already making greater use of instructional technology. At UC Santa Cruz 150 wireless modems let students tap into the Internet, receive email and conduct electronic searches at the library from any where in Santa Cruz.


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