Integrating Instructional Technology into the Classroom: Laptops and LearningSpace in Business Administration

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1 Abstract Integrating Instructional Technology into the Classroom: Laptops and LearningSpace in Business Administration Cynthia L. Krey Assistant Director - Instructional Technology The McGlynn Computer & Technology Center The College of St. Catherine Karen M. Walker Instructional Designer The McGlynn Computer & Technology Center The College of St. Catherine This paper addresses the challenges involved in integrating instructional technology into the curriculum at a small liberal arts college. Two pilot courses in Business Administration are reviewed. Feedback about the experiences of students, faculty, and staff is presented. Introduction The College of St. Catherine is a Catholic liberal arts college for women located in St. Paul, Minnesota. We have experienced significant shifts in academic structure in the past fifteen years. In 1986, we acquired St. Mary's Junior College, a campus in Minneapolis that offers co-educational associate degree and certificate programs in health-care and human services. We also extended our undergraduate day school offerings to include co-educational graduate degrees in many fields. The wide variety of technology required to support the instructional strategies for this array of programs has created many challenges. Our vision for instructional technology is for students, faculty, and staff to comfortably approach "new technologies and the ethical, leadership, and influencing opportunities" they may present. If we review the history and trends of technology at the college, the timeline (Figure 1) looks something like this: Figure 1.

2 Some of our major milestones along the way include: Dumb terminals connected to a VAX/VMS campus network with a few Macs, Apple IIs, and DOS 3. systems sprinkled around campus. Primary applications: word processing, online discussion, , gopher, and ftp Seventeen online courses. A pilot program with limited enrollment Four public labs, half a dozen departmental labs. A computer on every staff and faculty desk Faculty approved plan for integrating computer competency into the curriculum on the St. Paul campus. Laptop leasing program established Port per pillow in all residence halls, 75 classrooms wired for video and data. Single semester self-paced computer competency course required of all new associate degree and certificate students being piloted on the Minneapolis campus. Current standards are Mac G3/OS8/Office98 and Pentium 233 MHz, 4GB, 64MB RAM, NT4./Office97/Notes 4.6. Primary applications: word processing, spreadsheets/charts/graphs, PowerPoint, online discussion (both asynchronous and synchronous chats), , Netscape/IE, file attachments and multimedia with 24- hour access to course materials expected. The College of St. Catherine has some experience with distance education and will continue to experiment in this area New Pathways to a Degree program was piloted. This initiative was targeted toward women in rural communities seeking a four-year college degree. An initial face-to-face meeting was held and the rest of the course was completed on-line. Primary applications included HyperCard, Toolbook and VAX Notes online discussion software Continuing Education program was piloted. This program was targeted toward small business owners seeking "Just In Time" training. Primary applications included WWW and Lotus Notes/LearningSpace Videoconferencing classrooms established on both the St. Paul and the Minneapolis campus with connections to sites in community businesses and industries planned. This program will make it possible to offer inter- as well as intracampus courses. The current trend at the college is the integration of distance learning strategies into oncampus courses. Academic departments are posting syllabi, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations on the web. The intent is to provide easy access to course materials for all students. In some courses, online discussions reduce the amount of face-to-face class time needed to cover course content. In other courses, online access to practice exams and exercises allow students to work through materials at their own pace. Students can also post public and private documents to share with their instructor or other students. Clearly, the use of and online discussion is well suited to classes where teams of students are working to solve real world problems.

3 In 1998, the Business Administration department began a pilot program requiring laptops for all the students in three of their classes: Auditing, Advanced Marketing and Managerial Accounting. This summer laptops will be required for all students taking Visual Basic programming. All students majoring in Business Administration will be required to lease laptops in the fall. The Pilot Program As part of the pilot program, we experimented with different instructional strategies in two of the three BADM classes. The decision on which strategies to implement was based on how course content could best be presented to students. In the auditing course, students worked in teams during class but completed assignments independently for a grade; whereas, in the marketing course, students worked in teams in and out of class and turned in a single product for a group grade. Additionally, the auditing class needed an online administrative system to handle the number of assignments that needed to be graded and returned weekly so students could move to the next part of the audit case study. The students in Managerial Accounting used their laptops to share spreadsheets and conduct research on the web. We did not work directly with this group although the faculty member was satisfied with the course and felt the laptops were very useful to students. Auditing. This class used a combination of Excel spreadsheets and a Lotus Notes LearningSpace module to complete an audit case study. Students downloaded spreadsheet templates from LearningSpace and completed them using a series of case facts. Assignments were submitted via . Spreadsheets included a hidden answer key, which the instructor accessed using a password to check each assignment. In this way, we were able to automate much of the grading for the course, which saved the instructor a considerable amount of time as compared with previous terms. Upon completion of a portion of the case, students were given access to the next part of the case study. Students could work at their own pace to complete assignments and their final project. The instructor, for this course, met with the instructional designers periodically during the term for training on how to use the software and to add new features to the course. We had some bugs in the spreadsheet keys that needed to be corrected. We also did not have time to put all quizzes and exams for this course online. Students did not make use of the online discussion available in the LearningSpace courseware as we anticipated they might. Students did, however, use distribution lists and to converse with each other between class sessions. Advanced Marketing. This course used Lotus Notes LearningSpace primarily for collaborative writing of a marketing plan and PowerPoint slides for final presentations. We made the decision not to use specialized collaborative writing software such as CommonSpace. We felt because some tools and techniques in LearningSpace were new to students and the instructor, the addition of more new software would be overwhelming. Initially, teams were set up within LearningSpace with the idea that students would use the annotation feature of Notes to save versions of their collaborative report. The final team grade would be based on a single, completed

4 marketing plan. One of the four groups was successful with the strategy of team writing in LearningSpace; however, the other three groups found it too difficult. These teams decided to exchange documents by . The problem with this strategy was the absence of a single, master document and no archive of drafts. Clearly, more preparation was needed to train the instructor in the tools students would be using, as well as to help students become familiar with methods they would use in LearningSpace. We were disappointed that students did not use to communicate with one another or with their real-world clients as much as we had anticipated. Survey Results Following the BADM course offerings, we conducted an online survey. Fifteen of the 28 students in the Auditing and Advanced Marketing courses responded. Use of Laptops (Figure 2): Students used their laptops weekly, if not daily outside of class. The same students used their laptops weekly or rarely in class. This is not a surprise given that students were expected to complete assignments primarily outside of class either independently or as a team. Since the classes did not meet daily, the way we phrased the question affected the responses regarding "daily" use. We know that students in the auditing class used their laptops every class period; whereas, the marketing students had less need for laptops in class. Use of Laptops # of Students Daily Weekly Rarely Outside Class In class Figure 2. Use of LearningSpace: The use of Lotus Notes LearningSpace by students was really influenced by the instructor and the course content. In the auditing course, it was necessary for students use LearningSpace to access course materials required to complete the case study. The instructor in this course was actively involved in creating the online materials and used them daily herself. The marketing students had no compelling need to use LearningSpace. Because of copyright issues, none of the materials needed to complete the collaborative project were posted online so it was rare for these students to use the courseware itself with the exception of referring to the posted syllabus. Additionally, the marketing instructor had not been as involved in setting up the online course and only had a very brief orientation to the system along with her students during the first class period.

5 As one marketing student commented: "We decided as a group not to use LearningSpace because it was too much work! It is so much easier for us to write our papers together and then one person s the paper to everybody else. We work as a group, so LearningSpace isn't effective for us. We want to revise our papers together, after thinking about them individually. Even the prof said just to forget it! It's just not what we need." Our pilot experiences clearly emphasize the importance of instructor involvement in course design and development as well as a clear integration of technology and course content. We need to study the ways in which LearningSpace and group processes, such as collaborative writing, can work together to enhance teaching and learning. Lotus Notes and LearningSpace are ideally suited for this type of interaction. We simply did not find the right match between the needs of the course and the capabilities of the software in the marketing course (Figure 3). Use of Online Courseware # of Students LearningSpace Daily Weekly Rarely Not At All Figure 3. Students in both classes used and connected to campus via modem frequently (Figure 4). We have no data to compare with other (non-laptop) courses. It may well be that students in most other CSC courses use daily or weekly. We also do not know if the use of by auditing and marketing students was primarily social or whether it was course-related communication. Usage Daily Weekly Rarely Figure 4.

6 For the most part, students who responded to our survey found the laptops helpful in these two pilot courses (Figure 5). In fact, many of them regretted the end of the term. "HAVING THE LAP TOP HAS BEEN A BLAST, I REGRET THAT I AM GOING TO HAVE TO GIVE IT BACK SOON." As we refine the application of Lotus Notes and LearningSpace to specific instructional needs, we expect more students and faculty will find both laptops and online course delivery useful. Laptops & LearningSpace # of Students Helpful NOT Helpful Laptop LearningSpace Figure 5. Summary Comments In all of the BADM classes, we found both faculty and students felt the laptops were beneficial. Instructor involvement in online course design and development is clearly an important success factor, independent of whether students carry laptops. And, finally, software must not only make it possible to complete instructional tasks; but, must also in some way, mirror (if not simplify) the group processes used to complete them. We will continue to work with faculty, one-on-one, to design and develop online aspects for their courses. In spring 1999, we will pilot an Introduction to Visual Basic programming using Lotus Notes and LearningSpace. When we offer the course next summer, we will make it a required laptop course. We will continue to offer laptops to students and faculty. It is projected that other CSC departments will eventually require laptops for students in their majors. The advantage of requiring the laptop is that the cost of leasing can be included in student financial aid awards. Additionally, standardized hardware and software is easier to support and maintain. It seems, from the feedback we received during this pilot, that required laptops provide convenience and access for all students -- anytime, anywhere. It also seems, from our experiences, students and faculty perceived the laptops were helpful even in courses where they opted not to use them daily in class. This gives us the freedom to separate the decision to require laptops from the design and development of online course materials and in-class instructional activities.

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