University of Washington, Seattle Campus
In 1996, Sandeep Krishnamurthy began teaching at UW Bothell, where he leads three undergraduate and one graduate course in the Marketing department. Krishnamurthy believes that corporate presence on the Internet has reached a 'critical mass,' where enough companies are using Cyberspace in innovative ways that directed exploration online can offer business students some very important insights. "At this point, the level of online marketing activity has grown to a point where it has become useful to incorporate in my teaching," he says.
Learning by doing
One of many Web-based activities in Krishnamurthy's electronic marketing class illustrates the concept of Internet portals as marketing tools. Students get first-hand experience with the concept by creating a personalized portal, a service available at sites such as yahoo.com
and netscape.com. Students enjoy comparing their personalized portals-some are aesthetically barren with only a few key links, others are cluttered with numerous links and graphics, placing a spectrum of Web resources only a click away. The exercise, supplemented by out-of-class readings, gave the idea of Internet portals concrete meaning for students. Some found the portals so useful that they would routinely arrive early for class to check stock quotes, news, and other information from their portals. "Unless you've actually done it, it's hard to have a good understanding of an abstract concept such as personalization," Krishnamurthy says.
Although his courses lend themselves well to Web use at a content level, Krishnamurthy has embraced an array of technologies to support learning at a logistical level as well.
Threaded discussions embedded in Krishnamurthy's course Web sites encourage students to extend conversations beyond class time. Threaded discussions differ from newsgroups and listservs in that messages are organized chronologically by subject, making it easy to follow the flow of a conversation. In addition, Web-based newsgroups compile all contributed messages on a single server, not in each participating individual's personal email account, requiring less storage space and facilitating access.
Students in Krishnamurthy's courses are then put to the test--digitally. The compressed summer courses meet twice a week for four hours. Students spend the first hour of each class period completing an "open Web" quiz. Krishnamurthy emails students the quiz as an MSWord attachment a few minutes before the start of class. Students retrieve it and respond to the questions according to a specified format, returning the completed quiz to their instructor as an attachment. According to Krishnamurthy, this set-up affords numerous conveniences to both him and the students. Quizzes, always spell-checked before they are returned to the instructor, are easier to read and grade. Students find that Krishnamurthy's comments on returned work are also clear and concise. Students are able and encouraged to embed hyperlinks to locations on the Web that exemplify their point.
Exams by email allow students who are unable to attend class in person to complete class work. Krishnamurthy describes the Master's students, many of whom are working professionals, as "academically aggressive." He explains, "They like to participate, not miss anything. But they are going to have to leave class, go to trade shows, visit clients." In the same manner, Krishnamurthy is able to connect students with unique experience and expertise of "virtual visitors"-colleagues working in market research on the east coast, for example, whom students can converse with via email during class.
Tackling Technical Literacy
Krishnamurthy acknowledges that students are becoming increasingly tech-savvy with each year. "There used to be a segment [of students] who didn't know the Web existed. Now everyone knows how to go to a Web site, click a link and move around." He fears, however, that in the wake of intuitive graphical user interfaces (GUIs) like the Web browser, users have lost touch with core concepts of computer use such as file structures. "In the olden days, in the land of gopher, we lived on FTP and DOS commands. I actually had a session on history in my electronic marketing class, that things haven't always been this way," he says.
Learning to Learn
Krishnamurthy sends students home with activities, such as a Web scavenger hunt, which he hopes will help them learn to cull the vast resources of the Web efficiently, sorting the wheat from the chaff. He considers these skills to be crucial in making effective use of information. "In the classroom you want [students] to have conceptual discussions, but you also want them to have these [computer] skills," he says. Krishnamurthy also credits the library and media staff for prioritizing new media and information literacy at the Bothell campus.
by Holly Jamesen, August 1999