At the University of Massachusetts Lowell, a Community & Resource Website in Information Technology (IT) course allows for community building through sharing of student pictures, current and past student work and extensive resources.
How this practice supports student satisfaction: It is often challenging to build community in Information Technology (IT) courses. One particular course, Website Development using Frontpage, lends itself nicely to building a course community of learners through a Community & Resource Website (CRW). The CRW is a webpage that is developed by the course instructor which includes four main components: 1) Photos or other caricature of all current students in the class 2) Links to the work of all current students 3) Extensive list of Frontpage resources 4) Links to the work of previous students in the course The CRW webpage is linked within the course website as part of the course syllabus. The Website Development using Frontpage course is a hands-on course where students build multiple websites through various projects and activities throughout the semester. The chosen projects and activities are selected so that students can develop websites related to topics of their own personal interests. As a result, the community and interaction between and among students and faculty are usually very strong. Since students have an opportunity to see each others work, they usually aim for high standards since the work is to be displayed for the class, not just the instructor. This creates an environment where students are proud of their work and find they get to know each other better through the result of their course work. Course community is fostered due to the sharing and interaction that occurs, both in relation to their personal interests and/or the creative features of their course websites.
Student feedback and testimonials on the CRW has been overwhelmingly positive. Over the past academic year (Fall 2003, Summer 2003 and Spring 2004), data from course evaluations for this Website Development course have shown positive results. Of the students who completed the course evaluation over the past academic year, 100% agreed or strongly agreed that the course contributed to their knowledge regarding the subject matter and that the communication with their classmates was appropriate for the course.
There is no cost associated with this practice for faculty or students.
Community & Resource Website: http://ceweb2.uml.edu/cyber_judy/