CONTACT: SCOTT HAUSER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
First-year students will take interactive tour of UI in new program
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A group of first-year students will take "virtual"
tours of the University of Iowa while learning how to navigate the World Wide
Web and use other communications technology this fall in a new, interactive
About 120 students in a unique pilot project will test a new CD-ROM, called
"OnLine at Iowa," as part of an effort to help first-year students
get acquainted with campus while beefing up their computer skills. The students
will earn one semester hour of credit if they complete the program.
Organizers hope the CD-ROM will be available by the fall of 1998 to each
of the approximately 3,000 freshmen who come to campus each fall.
Bob Boynton, professor of political science and director of "OnLine
at Iowa," says the project is designed to help students explore the academic,
social and cultural resources available on campus and to teach them the basics
of using electronic mail, the World Wide Web and the Internet.
Many universities use interactive technology to teach students how to use
electronic resources, but few, if any, combine that technology with a general
orientation to campus, he says.
"The idea is to introduce students to the campus as a place of electronic
communication," Boynton says. "Students will learn how to use the
electronic tools that they will need to function well at the university and
outside the university, but in the process, they will learn specific information
about the university."
John Folkins, associate provost, says students will learn to be comfortable
with using computer technology early in their academic careers. While some
students are computer-savvy when they come to campus, many are not.
"In part, this is an attempt to level the playing field for students
who haven't worked as much on computers," Folkins says.
For the pilot phase of the project, participating students will meet in campus
computer centers during the semester to test the disk and help iron out any
bugs in the course.
Working from the CD-ROM, students take an interactive tour of the UI. With
the click of a mouse students can follow maps to buildings such as Old Capitol
and the Pappajohn Business Administration Building. They also can "tour"
the Main Library, or find out information about campus offices and programs.
The disk also includes electronic communications software that gives students
access to the Internet. By following the tour, students learn how to find
and visit sites on the World Wide Web and how to send email.
As they work through the CD-ROM, students are asked to complete a series
of tasks that require them to use their electronic skills. At the end of each
task, students send an electronic note to a central database, indicating they
have completed the assignment.
The CD-ROM will also include online help for students to turn to if they
Students receive credit for the course if they complete all the tasks. No
letter grades will be given.
If this fall's test is a success, students in future years will buy the disk
as part of their texts for the school year. They will complete the tasks at
their own pace during the semester to earn the hour of credit.
"The idea is to make this a self-delivery course," Boynton says.
"Students eventually will be able to buy the CD-ROM, pop it into a computer
drive on a computer that has access to the network and complete the course."
Folkins says the course is not intended to replace the current program of
summer orientation for all students, but to supplement orientation with skills
in using computer technology.
"Students will come out of the course not only with a better awareness
of the university and its programs, but also with a basic level of computer
ability that they can build on in future classes," Folkins says.
Students taking part in the program volunteered to participate during summer