Developing a World Wide Web Course:
House Types in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Ingolf Vogeler:
Department of Geography
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004

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New technologies are best used in new ways; hence, this "paper" can be read in any order.

Abstract   |   Philosophy of education and pedagogy   |     Advantages of the World Wide Web   |    Primary data sources   |  
|  Course Activities  |    Student responsibilities and advantages   |      Instructor responsibilities and advantages   |
|  Skills to be acquired   Software used   |   Publishing   |  

Philosophy of education and pedagogy
Over the last 25 years, my teaching has changed in response to the "learning style" of undergraduates that I teach at a large (10,000 students) undergraduate state university in the northern Midwest of the United States. Primarily, I have reduced the content of my courses and increased the time spent on the process of learning the course materials.

How to learn is more important than what is learned.

By using computers and especially the World Wide Web, I can teach students the importance of how to learn. I want my students to be responsible for and to take pride in their work. As professionals, the communication of ideas matters. In a materialistic and mechanical society, students frequently act as if abstract concepts require less accurate information and less care than, for example, repairing cars. I don't want them to do their best; I want them to acquire minimum high-level skills and knowledge for productive careers and to become useful individuals in their communities.

Too often students tell me that they spend a great deal of time on their assignments without reference to the quality of their work. College is not like prison time; students must acquire high-quality skills while they attend college. The creation of Web pages by students breaks tasks into small and manageable tasks and yet integrates all the parts into a comprehensive whole and creates a public record of their learning.

Creating high-quality work is difficult to learn and must be done systematically, slowly, and repeatedly.

The ease with which Web pages can be created, reviewed, and edited makes this mode of instruction and learning very appealing for instructors.

Creating web pages is itself a very educational experience:

Advantages of the World Wide Web
Using the internet's World Wide Web has many advantages over other computer and non-computer teaching enhancements for students and teachers alike. The Macintosh HyperCard and PC PowerPoint allow the linking of words, graphs, diagrams, and maps into hypertext documents. However, these documents have the disadvantages of either having to be copied to every individual computer or, if a server is available, files can only be made available to those who have access to that particular server, usually in only one building or on one campus.

The Web allows hypertext documents to be accessed by a much larger audience -- on and off campuses, across the country, and indeed around the world --although unforunately limited to those connected to the Internet. Because Web files are so accessible, they allow for a wide-range of interaction between viewers concerning content and style. Publishing, sharing work with others in open forums, is a natural by-product of learning.

Course Activities
In this upper division field course, students are primarily geography majors and minors and other seniors who are interested in vernacular architecture and/or the history of Eau Claire. The first two weeks of this three-week seminar  (limited to a maximum of 21) are spent on walking tours in different parts of the city. Each day begins with a systematic exercise and then a general tour of a particular historical and socio-economic neighborhood. Written assignments include reviews of a Wisconsin architectural book and Public Broadcasting Service (public television) video, and a field-based cemetery study. At the end of the second week, a slide-based test is given and the third week's research project is presented. In the last and third week, teams of two students produce their Web pages while the instructor checks and discusses their work ever other day in the computer. On the last day of the course, students present their Web pages to the class for evaluation and later that day revise their pages.

Student responsibilities and advantages
Students who create Web pages are responsible for the

With their names at the bottom of each page, students claim ownership of their work and also display the quality of their work for others to judge. Their efforts will help other students learn the material better than they did -- that is progress!

Subsequently, students and others who use these web-based courses

Skills Acquired and Software Used


What is being learned and the type of software needed

Examples of software

 analytical  skills

- thinking about what and how to communicate ideas and information
 taught in the classroom and by example, and actively in the computer lab
 as students create their  own web pages

 no software has been developed  yet!

 writing skills

- word processing software


 creating  maps

- mapping software


 scanning  photographs

- scanners and appropriate software for converting image files
  (e.g., bmp -> gif or jpg)

 and  LVIEW

 creating graphs

- spread sheet and data processing software


 drawing diagrams

- different software can be used to create simple and complex diagrams


 using primary data

- Internet and reference library sources


Instructor responsibilities and advantages
Instructors of web-based courses can

Primary data sources
The value of web-based courses is illustrated by a course on house types in Eau Claire, WI.
Students created web pages from previous student-collected data based on

1. architectural field work of every single family house covering the last 110 years,
2. public assessment records on each property at city hall, and
3. annual commercial city directories.

Student-created web pages are instantly published -- available for others to use and evaluate. Interested faculty and students at the same university or persons elsewhere on the global WWW can use and reference these materials. By publishing, students learn to share their work with others and thereby create communities. Publishing, teaching, and learning become globally interactive! In addition, students can cite the web pages they created as examples of their work on their resumes.

Created by Ingolf Vogeler on 25 August 1996; last revised 19 November 1996.