Using computer conferencing in teaching | Academic Article individual record

For 3years, I have been teaching neuroscience courses by using computer conferencing to complement the traditional lectures. Typically, the conferencing involved local, on‐campus students, although one semester the class was combined from on‐campus and off‐campus students. For most of my 33‐year teaching career, I had used the teaching approach that most professors use, which is what educational theorists call “instructivist.” Critics call that “stand and deliver.” Lecturing is an efficient way to dispense organized information, but it does not ensure learning nor is it very effective in showing students how to learn on their own. Instructivism can be enriched by complementing it with “constructivist” approaches. Constructivists argue that there is a direct relationship between the amount of learning that occurs and the extent to which the environment provides a rich source of engaging experiences in which students construct their own knowledge and understanding. I have found that such an environment is readily provided by computer conferencing. In my teaching of neuroscience, I have used a network software system (FORUM) for small student groups to conduct a variety of constructivist learning activities. Within weekly deadlines, students worked in groups at their own pace and time of convenience. My impression of the advantages of such conferencing for constructivist activities include the promotion of socialization in “cyberspace,” providing an environment for team learning, the reduction of social problems in face‐to‐face instruction, increased teaching and learning efficiency, more comprehensive means for assessing student learning, and improved quality of student work. © 1998 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

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Klemm, W. R.
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