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The Journal of Higher Education 75.3 (2004) 366-367

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The Web in Higher Education: Assessing the Impact and Fulfilling the Potential edited by C. D. Maddux and Lamont Johnson. Binghamton: The Haworth Press, Inc., 2001. 278 pp. Cloth $69.95. ISBN 0-7890-1706-7. Paper $34.95. ISBN 0-7890-1707-5.

This book is an edited collection of articles co-published simultaneously in Computers in Education, Volume 17, Numbers 3/4 and Volume 18, Number 1, 2001.

Altogether there are 15 chapters/articles of about 17 pages each. There is no discernible organizational framework for the book nor any summary or concluding chapter from the authors.

The book opens with a curious chapter, "The Web in Education: Asset or Liability?", apparently by the two editors, although written in the first person singular. The chapter basically starts from the premise that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and the Web, despite its potential, is yet another factor causing woe for faculty. The editors leave it to the authors of the chapters to "tell us how they believe education in the 21st century will be transformed by this incredible new technology." This tension between the promise and the reality of Web-based teaching is a common theme in fact across a number of the articles.

Two articles, one by MacKnight from the University of Massachusetts, and another, by Hughes and Hewson from the University of New South Wales, criticize current commercial course development platforms for not facilitating adequately the development of critical thinking skills or reflecting what Hughes and Hewson call the "micro-genres" of face-to-face teaching. MacKnight describes an online problem-solving environment designed specifically to develop skills of critical thinking. Hughes and Hewson have designed another software platform that aims to reflect better face-to-face "micro-genres." Mayer and colleagues from the University of Missouri-Columbia describe a project conceived by the University Council for Educational Administration that uses a problem-based approach to Web design for graduate programs in educational leadership. Once again, special software was developed to facilitate a problem-based approach.

Three articles focus on teacher education. Reynolds et al. (Indiana University) combine four models of professional development within a Web-based environment aimed at building a community of practice for math and science teachers. Cheney et al. (University of Nevada-Reno) describe efforts to marry televised distance education, Web-enhanced course components, and case-based instruction in the delivery of a course on special education. The article focuses on the development of a web-based environment, the "Teachers' Lounge", to overcome some of the disadvantages of distance education based on video-conferencing. Bonk et al. (also Indiana University) describe a two-year project during which students used a Web-based tool (called COW) to create their own cases for analysis and discussion.

The article by Colaric and Jonassen from Penn State University tackles three so-called "myths" about learning on the web: (1) the web is a vast library that [End Page 366] conveys knowledge; (2) searching equals learning; and (3) hyperlinking is good instruction. The article provides some very useful guidelines for counteracting each myth.

Harvey and colleagues from Penn State University report on a short module in a graduate management course in which case studies were used to discuss issues of sexual harassment in the workplace. The Web was used to provide hypertext links across the cases to highlight common themes and perspectives.

Teles and colleagues at Simon Fraser University, Canada, report on the design of a graduate class with low enrolment (four students) where the online component was used (unsuccessfully) to reduce the instructor contact time and workload, so that instructors could cover more small enrolment courses. The value of this article lies in the design of the mixed mode teaching, which has relevance beyond such small classes.

Northrup and Rasmussen from the University of West Florida describe the design of a graduate program in instructional technology, based on "grounded" design, i.e., design rooted in established...


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