The emergence of the Internet has created a number of claims as to the future of education and the possibility of dramatically changing the way in which education is delivered. Much of the attention has focussed on the adoption of teaching methods that are solely web-based. We set out to incorporate web-based teaching as support for more traditional teaching methods to improve the learning outcomes for students. This first step into web-based teaching was developed to harness the benefits of web-based teaching tools without supplanting traditional teaching methods.
The aim of this paper is to report our experience with web-assisted teaching in two undergraduate courses, Accounting Information Systems and Management Accounting Services, during 2000. The paper evaluates the approach taken and proposes a tentative framework for developing future web-assisted teaching applications.
We believe that web-assisted and web-based teaching are inevitable outcomes of the telecommunications and computer revolution and that academics cannot afford to become isolated from the on-line world. A considered approach is needed to ensure the integration of web-based features into the overall structure of a course. The components of the course material and the learning experiences students are exposed to need to be structured and delivered in a way that ensures they support student learning rather than replacing one form of learning with another. Therefore a careful consideration of the structure, content, level of detail and time of delivery needs to be integrated to create a course structure that provides a range of student learning experiences that are complimentary rather than competing.
The feedback was positive from both extramural (distance) and internal students, demonstrating to us that web sites can be used as an effective teaching tool in support of more traditional teaching methods as well as a tool for distance education. The ability to harness the positives of the web in conjunction with more traditional teaching modes is one that should not be overlooked in the move to adopt web based instruction methods. Web-based teaching need not be seen as an all or nothing divide but can be used as a useful way of improving the range and type of learning experiences open to students.
The Web challenges traditional methods and thinking but it also provides tools to develop innovative solutions to both distance and on campus learning. Further research is needed to determine how we can best meet the needs of our students while maintaining high quality learning outcomes.