Teaching Technology Online

Back in 1997, I taught a class for San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science called Information Technology: Tools and Applications on their main campus. This fall I have been invited to teach the class again, but this time it will be taught online. The first official day of this online class is tomorrow. I have sent out notifications to the students and for the next 16 weeks we’ll be learning about web site design, building, and programming. The past 11 years have brought significant changes to the “tools and applications” for information technology, so the class needs to be rewritten a bit. Teaching online it isn’t as simple as walking into a classroom and sharing my knowledge and experience but now the content must be organized and written out in advance for the online environment. Despite the work load, this is an exciting opportunity for me to look more closely at the underlying architecture of the web and help guide future librarians.

When I taught this course back in 1997, it was the height of the dot com era. There was an energy and excitement about learning the material. As I look back over the old course outline, we were learning HTML 3.2, some javascript, css, and active-x. The HTML standard has been updated and one element that is clearly gone is frames. Thank goodness! All the new web 2.0 possibilities really provide many different directions and possibilities for the students. Very exciting, and I hope it will invigorate what I do in my own institution environment.

The other part that is exciting for me is to use Blackboard again. This coming year I will be serving as the Chair of our Committee for Online Instructors at Santa Barbara City College and help guide our instutition through our transition year from WebCT to Moodle. Though I worked with Blackboard from 2001-2005, then WebCT in 2006-2007, and now Moodle, it will be good to know what the largest course management system is doing with their product today. It is good to know what all the products offer and how they work for students and faculty.

I would like to mention the hiring process and preparation for teaching at SJSU SLIS? The staff and faculty have been exceptional. They have clearly learned how to work with instructors at a distance and they have the resources available to help make me the most successful instructor possible. From the orientation to online teaching in Blackboard (mostly review for me) to the sharing of content resources, I can only say thank you. I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised because they are the largest library school in the world. It is just light years from where the institution was in 1993 when I attended and in 1997 when I taught for them last. Back in 1993 the “technology” class was taught by Linda Main and she is the person that hired me this year – fun. I’m proud of my alma mater and happy to be teaching for them again. I especially look forward to meeting 25 library school students.

Off to prepare some course materials…