Web-Teaching

Preface Acknowledgements Contents 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 URLs References

 

 


 

CHAPTER 16 *

Advanced Interactivity *

EVALUATING STUDENT WRITING *

Peer Evaluation *

Automatic Evaluation *

APPLICATION SOFTWARE RECENTRALIZED *

Mathematics *

Chemistry *

SELECTED MULTIMEDIA PROGRAMS *

Macromedia Director/Shockwave *

Flash *

CLIENTSIDE INTERACTIVITY *

JavaScript *

SERVERSIDE INTERACTIVITY *

Java *

CGI *

NEW WAYS TO ENVISION CURRICULA *

GLOSSARY *

REFERENCES *

URLs *

 


 

CHAPTER 16

Advanced Interactivity

 

 

The automated testing described in the previous chapter brings the interactivity described in Chapter 7 to a high point. You can expect the Web to support still higher levels of interactivity. The purpose of this chapter is to help you to envision broadly what is likely to develop on both the client and server sides of the Web within the decade.

 

EVALUATING STUDENT WRITING

For most teachers, when some studentcreated composition is to be evaluated, it will either be brought into a courseware program or shipped off by email for a human evaluator to read, comment upon, and score. There are at least two approaches for transferring the responsibility for the evaluation of student writing from the teacher (or a reading assistant) elsewhere.

Peer Evaluation

Developed by Orville Chapman of UCLA, Calibrated Peer Review™ is a scheme that permits evaluation of writing by students in classes.

 

Calibrated Peer Review (CPR)™ is a program, for networked computers, that enables frequent writing assignments without any increase in instructor work. In fact, CPR can reduce the time an instructor now spends reading and assessing student writing. CPR offers instructors the choice of creating their own writing assignments or using the rapidly expanding assignment library. Although CPR stems from a sciencebased model, CPR has the exciting feature that it is discipline independent and level independent. When young children first begin to write a paragraph, they can use CPR profitably, and yet the same program serves college and university students as well as graduate and professional students. {U16.01}

Automatic Evaluation

Substantial progress has been made in the automatic evaluation of text [McCollum, 1998]. Peer review requires that several peer students be available. It is a batch mode approach. By contrast, an entirely computerbased strategy for text evaluation is called latent semantic analysis [Landauer & Dumais, 1997]. The outcomes of this and similar studies are quite remarkable; the rules computers generate for themselves at this task seem so different from the ones we might want to invent for them to use. A Web site for researchers {U16.02} deals with latent semantic analysis {U16.03} strategies. It is likely that at some Webbased grading of texts will appear in the near future.

It is clear that students are finding, or even purchasing, materials on the Web and submitting them as their own. Several companies offer services for teachers that use sophisticated search techniques to help detect Webbased plagiarism. This issue will be discussed further in Chapter 19.

 

APPLICATION SOFTWARE RECENTRALIZED

Computer users schooled in the '60s are likely to recall highly centralized computer centers on school campuses where many things important to successful computer use were controlled by others. Desktop computing, with each machine having its very own copy of software programs, was a powerful, liberating force.

Many software development companies now provide software over the Web. In the age of the Web, software can be downloaded directly to our machines. Use of the Web as a software delivery system for commercial software is widely accepted.

The next step is likely to be a recentralization. Much software will reside on large servers to be doled out to users on an as needed basis. As with so many such matters, no votes will be taken. If this proves to be economically viable, then it will happen almost certainly to the detriment of current desktop software quality and access.

So, looking down the road just a few years, we can expect educational software licenses to be very different from what they are today. The letters "asp," once thought to describe a poisonous snake used to bring Cleopatra to her end, have several new meanings in the 21st century. One is active server pages {U16.04}, a scheme developed by Microsoft to handle data returned from Web forms. Another is application service providers {U16.05}, those folks who may succeed in recentralizing computer software.

The 25year migration of computer software from the mainframe to the desktop has included the development of some remarkable packages. As a reader, you almost certainly have access to a desktop computer, and to software such as a word processor, a browser, an email, and more. This same time period has seen some very powerful advances, especially as graphical representations became easier to accomplish. The notion of application service providers, of course, is that they will lease software licenses for brief periods of time. End users will pay for what they use rather than buy an expensive program that may experience little usage. There probably is an undercurrent of thinking that software piracy (now estimated at about 50%) will decrease {U16.06}.

Mathematics

Mathematica,{U16.07} first developed as a mathematician’s tool, has evolved through several generations. In 1999, David Fowler, a UNL colleague, taught an Internetbased course centered on Mathematica.

 

Figure 16.01. Screen capture from Web materials produced using Mathematica.

 

Mathematica is precisely the kind of program that we might expect to see migrate from the desktop back to a server. It is relatively expensive for individual purchase, even to purchase a "student" version. Instead of buying licenses for individual copies, users can expect to pay for the total amount of use. This meets well the needs of infrequent users, trainers, and others for whom daily or weekly access to the software is unnecessary.

 

Chemistry

 

Figure 16.02. Software can create 2D representation of a chemical formula from its name. Three styles of 2D formulas are shown. The same information can produce 3D movable representations. With permission.

 

Figure 16.03. Today one can go from a name to a manipulable 3D structure, one that can be incorporated into Web materials.

 

CambridgeSoft Corporation {U16.08} is one of several companies that have developed software for organic and other chemists. Beginning with programs that drew organic structures, these have blossomed. Prior to their inception, creating structures for publication was a very time consuming task involving ink drawing tools, transfer letters, and much tedium. A remarkable change took place when ChemInnovation {U16.09} introduced software that, given the chemical name of a molecule, would produce the corresponding 2D structure (Figure 16.02). More recent software allows limited manipulation of the structure as a 3D representation. Programs are also available that predict spectra of all sorts, including numerous technical features. Software can even facilitate making a Webbased purchase of commercially available chemicals.

SELECTED MULTIMEDIA PROGRAMS

For some time, it seemed as if every hypermedia program (Hypercard, ToolBook, SuperCard) would have some equivalent version running on the Web. Much of what one would like to accomplish on the Web with a hypermedia program is better handled using either Web technology or some other approach.

Macromedia Director/Shockwave

Director is a program well suited for multimedia interaction. It may be the program of choice for developers with large graphics budgets. Director already is a crossplatform product, with Mac and Windows versions available.

Macromedia {16.10} developed a "plugin" called ShockWave to enable playback of multimedia materials on the Web. Materials developed in Director played with ShockWave promise to play a very important role in Web interactive materials.

 

Figure16.04. Macromedia Director "Stage." These images are part of a simulation for students considering careers as chemistry laboratory technicians.

 

ShockWave will stream information to the browser, buffering information until sufficient information is on hand to allow it to be played smoothly. Figure 16.04 is a screen capture of the development of a Director program by Helen Brooks (Synaps Chem Tools).

The animation described in Chapter 8 was created using Director and then converted into a ShockWave file for Web delivery.

 

Flash

Flash {U16.11} by Macromedia is one of the most exciting developments in the area of advanced interactivity. Using Flash, a Web learning environment can contain highly interactive programs of the sort previously made possible by Hypercard, SuperCard, ToolBook, and AuthorWare. Flash features can include musical tracks, sound effects, animations, and innovative interfaces. The graphics created in Flash appear smooth on screen (antialiased). Because Flash is vectorbased rather than pixelbased (that is, more like a drawing program than a painting program), it downloads quickly.

As an example of the kind of interactivity supported by Flash, visit the Furniture.com Web site {U16.12}, and construct a plan for furnishing a room in your residence. The power of this Web tool is really quite remarkable.

 

Figure 16.05. Screen capture of a very simple, personalized room floor plan with four pieces of furniture in a large room. Furniture.com saves individualized floor plans. With permission.

 

Can you imagine having your students create some individual project, and then sending you information so that you access what they have created? The processes are similar to or the same as those used by Furniture.com. Remember, to engage in instruction at this level you need deep technical skills yourself or access to some highly skilled assistants.

CLIENTSIDE INTERACTIVITY

When the Web first emerged, browsers were quite limited. Shortly, movies and animations began to appear, and these brought screens to life even if they did not provide interactivity. The tools used to display molecular models have made an impact on chemistry education. Clickable maps have impacted Webteaching, especially. Nevertheless, more interactivity than clicking is desirable, and that interactivity should be at the client side when possible.

JavaScript

 

Figure 16.06. Screen capture of Web page used to assist chemistry teachers when preparing chemical solutions.

 

The idea is to ship some intelligence along with the encoded HTML files when possible. Scripting languages (programming languages) were envisioned early on. Livescript {U16.13}, the language initiated by Netscape, was soon renamed JavaScript. Java and JavaScript often are confused; they are distinctly different entities.

Using JavaScript, we developed a Web page to help chemistry teachers make the calculations needed to prepare chemical solutions {U16.14}. The user enters a formula and clicks the "Evaluate" button. The JavaScript program parses the chemical information stored in the formula, interprets it in terms of the atomic masses of the atoms involved, and calculates a molar mass for the formula. The user then enters the volume and concentration of the desired solution and clicks the "Find Mass Solute" button. The JavaScript program determines the mass of materials to be weighed. By clicking the "Display Recipes" button, a procedure for making the solution is obtained. The Web page includes HTML programming that enables the teacher to produce a Web page with the calculated recipes. The page may be printed for later use.

 

SERVERSIDE INTERACTIVITY

Scripting works within Web pages on the client machine. Sometimes teachers need more powerful tools, ones that either extend or go significantly beyond the confines of the browser environment. This requires serious programming.

Java

Java {U16.15} is a computer programming language and a platform invented with the Web and Internet in mind. When programs are created, selecting a programming language always is an issue. Java seems to be increasing in its importance.

The creation of interactive instructional materials often requires programming. One way to program is to learn how to do this yourself. Another is to hire student or professional programmers. Neither approach is without difficulties. Unless you've been trained and practiced as a programmer, you may never get to be very good at it, and the time required for you to accomplish minimal work may be very large detracting from your other professional duties. If you hire out programming, be certain to spend a great deal of time browsing sites that are interactive and bookmarking URLs. Sometimes having examples to use is exactly what you’ll need to make your programmers aware of what you want.

Java is capable of supporting fullblown applications. Perhaps of more interest to teachers is its use in creating applets, miniapplications that depend upon the browser and can be inserted into Web pages. Applets are served out to the client, and they most often no longer need to interact with the server in order to accomplish their tasks.

William Glider and his colleagues [Horn et al., 1997] have developed a supplementary Web site with many features including several Javabased tutorials. For example, one Java applet permits drag and drop of labels into concept maps. According to its designer, this applet can keep track of student moves, and thereby generate useful research information about student learning.

 

Figure 16.07. A Java applet tutorial in which students drag labels into concept maps.

 

 Several very interesting Java applets have been developed for use in physics {U16.16} by the Kiselevs. For example, one illustrates the convergent lens. The user can move the object on one side of the lens, and see how the image will appear on the other side (Figure 16.08).

 

Figure 16.08. Illustration of a Java applet that allows students to perform simulated experiments with a converging lens. With permission of the applet author.

 

 

CGIs

The Common Gateway Interface (CGI) is a useful tool. Whether you’re the lone maintainer of a single home page on someone else’s machine or the

Webmaster of a huge domain, CGI is an important tool for supporting interactivity. Much of this interactivity is related to databases (Chapter 14).

In a CGI system, information from a clickable map or form is sent from the client to the server for processing. There are many ways to accomplish this interaction. One method is to use Hypercard. HyperTalk, the Hypercard programming language can be used to create useful Web applications quickly. Several of the examples in Chapter 15 are based upon Hypercard CGIs. Hypercard is only available on the Macintosh platform. CGIs often are written in the scripting language Perl.

Writing CGIs is nontrivial. A talented student who knows some programming may be able search the Web for CGI freeware and adapt something for the task. A student still wiser in the ways of bits and bytes can create CGI applications from scratch. If such students are not available, find a professional programmer.

As time goes on, the process of creating CGIs will be made simpler and simpler. Server software will continue to be enhanced to facilitate using CGIs. Authoring tools will emerge that will ease the process of creating CGIs. Creating CGIs may never become very simple, however, except for the creation of lookalike sites that adhere closely to specific templates.

 

 

Figure 16.09. Page for entering values in cooling equation.

 

 

One example of CGI is a Web site that uses Perl CGI programming {U16.17} to illustrate the phenomenon of cooling. The user enters initial and ambient temperatures, and a coefficient that describes cooling. The CGI calculates the cooling and plots the result graphically as an image on the Web page (Figures 16.09 and 16.10).

 

 

Figure 16.10. Calculated cooling curve created by CGI program.

 

NEW WAYS TO ENVISION CURRICULA

It is not difficult to imagine creating sophisticated questioning strategies for presentation on the client side as a result of programming. When the techniques described here and in Chapters 14 and 15 are considered holistically, it becomes quite clear that a new dawn in education is emerging. It is possible to throw highly interactive instruction world wide, and to provide active learning environments which, as suggested in Chapter 2, promote deep understandings of conceptuallyrich content.

The next edition of this book is likely to have a chapter devoted to the automatic interpretation of written text. Current work is focusing on Webbased discussion groups so that we can expect the emergence of new ways for teachers to structure Webbased conversations between students rolling in and out of learning environments and not organized into units of classes and courses.

Nevertheless, as smart as these machines get, we suspect that none will replace teachers. The roles of teachers and the realities of teaching are likely to change considerably, however, from what they remain today.

 

GLOSSARY

CGI: Common gateway interface, the connection between the browser and server that runs a program. CGI programs can set and read small amounts of text on the client machine (called cookies), get and tabulate browser and operating system information, and so forth. By using CGI rather than browser–based scripting, nearly all users will be able to make full use of your pages. CGI scripts usually are not limited by browser or firewall limitations.

Perl: a highlevel programming language with process, file, and text manipulation facilities that make it particularly wellsuited for CGI script authoring. There is a wellorganized Perl Website.

 

REFERENCES

Horn C., Bruning, R., Wood, L. and Glider, W. (1997). Student Characteristics and Web Page

Interaction in Introductory College Biology. Poster session presented at the World Conference on Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia & World Conference on Educational Telecommunications, Calgary, Canada, June 1419.

Landauer, T. K. & Dumais, S. T. (1997). A solution to Plato's problem: The latent semantic analysis theory of acquisition, induction, and representation of knowledge, Psychological Review, 104, 211240.

McCollum, K. (1998). How a computer program learns to grade essays, The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 4, p. A3738.

 

URLs

U16.01. Calibrated Peer Review, http://cpr.molsci.ucla.edu:8800/ cpr_info/white_paper.asp (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.02. Latent Semantic Analysis, http://lsa.colorado.edu/ (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.03. What is LSA? http://lsa.colorado.edu/whatis.html (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.04. Active Server Pages, http://www.aspdev.stoneplanet.com/default.asp?page_menu_id=134&page=141 (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.05. ASP (Applicatrion Service Provider) Industry News, http://www.aspindustrynews.com/ (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.06. BSA AntiPiracy Site Software Piracy, http://www.nopiracy.com/ (accessed 6/4/00).

U16.07. Mathematica, http://www.wolfram.com/ (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.08. CambridgeSoft Company, http://www.camsoft.com/ (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.09. ChemInnovation, http://www.cheminnovation.com/ (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.10. Macromedia, http://www.macromedia.com/ (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.11. Macromedia Flash, http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/ (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.12. Furniture.com, http://www.furniture.com/ (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.13. JavaScript is not Java, http://java.about.com/compute/java/library/weekly/aa071299.htm?iam=dp&terms=Livescript+JavaScript (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.14. Solution concentration Calculator, http://129.93.84.115/WebT/ Soln.html (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.15. What is Java?, http://java.sun.com/docs/books/tutorial getStarted/intro/definition.html (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.16. Interactive Physics and Math with Java, http://www.lightlink.com/sergey/java/ (accessed 4/3/00).

U16.17. CGI Example: Generating a GIF onthefly, http://www.geog.ubc.ca/numeric/course/help–cgi–ex3.html (accessed 4/3/00).