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A Database And Search Engine For Sharing Fine Grained Course Materials Over The Web

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.39.1 - 8.39.14



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Paper Authors

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Edward Gehringer

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1526

A Database and Search Engine for Sharing Fine-Grained Course Materials over the Web Edward F. Gehringer North Carolina State University


A Web-based database of course materials was constructed to serve as a repository for lectures, homework problems, and other educational resources. What differentiates it from other educational databases such as Merlot is that it is targeted explicitly at fine- grained course materials—problems, lectures, or labs that can be “dropped into” existing courses. Instructors in two fields—computer architecture and object technology—were solicited to submit their work for inclusion in the database. An application was developed to automatically download material from the Web or from e-mail into the database. Accounts were offered to the contributors and to others that allowed them to do a fulltext search of the database for materials on desired topics. Although it has been a time-consuming task to induce instructors to donate their material, we have developed a community of several dozen contributors. We have designed the software to make it easy to develop future databases: A targeted Web search identifies likely contributors, and the system generates request e-mail. Currently, we have databases for two areas of computer science: The Computer Architecture Course Database contains 880 items, and the Object Technology Database contains about 450. Together the databases have about 170 users.

There will always be substantially more course material on the Web for any field than we are able to incorporate into our database. To provide access to a wider variety of material, we have extended our database with a search engine that can search the Web for items containing the same terms at the same time as it is retrieving problems from our database. Users of the database will not, of course, have an automatic right to reuse and adapt material that is not in the database; however, they will be able to ask the copyright holders for permission individually. The search engine that we are integrating with the database finds course Websites by searching a filtered set of educational domains for sites containing keywords characteristic of course material in the target discipline. We present preliminary results of using this search engine.

1. Introduction

With the advent of the World-Wide Web in the early ’90s, instructors began to place course material on line. In 1995, academic attendees from the International Symposium on Computer Architecture indicated great interest in developing a Website of reusable course materials. By 1997, approximately half of the object-technology (OT) instructors attending a workshop organized by the first author had developed course Websites. Contributions were sought, and approximately 500 problems were obtained from nine different contributors. The database went online in 1998. In the beginning, questions were inserted by cutting and pasting them into a browser interface to the database. To

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition 1 Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Gehringer, E. (2003, June), A Database And Search Engine For Sharing Fine Grained Course Materials Over The Web Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11879

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