College of Forest Resources
University of Washington, Seattle Campus
Creating Content and CommunityIt all started with a digital camera. Dr. Brubaker borrowed one from the CTLT and collected an archive of images related to material in her undergraduate courses: "Trees in our Environment" and "Dendrology." She then created a course Web site to house her collection which took the form of an online field guide (see 'Species Lists'), tailored to her course and available to students 24 hours a day.
Dr. Brubaker also uses her course Web site to post static information including course requirements, project descriptions, grading policies and due dates. The reality is, however, that even this information is not static in a course.
Due dates change, projects may be modified and grading policies altered to reflect special conditions of the course. The course Web site is a great place to make these changes available in a more concrete form than in-class announcements.
Connecting the Web with Class TimeSeeing the potential of this space for her students, Dr. Brubaker has extended her Web site in creative ways to develop community. A large group photo of the class is the first image you'll see as her "Trees in Our Environment" course page downloads. The photo helps Brubaker and her students in the class put names with faces. The Dendrology and Autecology ESC 221 course also affords several field trips over the quarter. Brubaker believes that including photographs of the field trip helps to 'jog students' memories' once they return so they can use the experience more effectively afterward.
Reaching Every StudentDr. Brubaker also encourages the use of email as a way to keep in touch with her students, especially the quiet ones: "At a big university the shy students are marginalized. You get a lot of emails from students who clearly would not have been brave enough to ask in class."
Brubaker consulted her colleagues frequently for general computer inquiries as she built up her course site. "You can ask your friends dumb questions and have the synergy of minds working together; that's why gangs are so effective."
Although enthusiastic about the use of technology in her courses, Dr. Brubaker is the first to acknowledge it as a supplement to face-to-face interaction. "The World Wide Web allows you to [disseminate information] effectively, but it can never be a substitute for hands-on."
by Holly Jamesen, February, 1999