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A First Aln Experience: Issues, Lessons And Emotions

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.11.1 - 3.11.11

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Robert (Bob) M. Anderson

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

Session 2432

A First ALN Experience: Issues, Lessons and Emotions Robert (Bob) M. Anderson, Jr Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Iowa State University

I. Introduction

This paper presents an "early adopter's" first experience using asynchronous learning networks (ALN) teaching/learning techniques in a sophomore course offered to students on-campus. This paper will present a "nuts and bolts" discussion--not views on educational theory or philosophy (important topics; but topics for a different paper). This paper begins with the factual background data of this experience, followed by some of the several issues that an early adopter much consider, some of the important lessons I learned, some of the emotions that I and my students experienced, and finally a couple of concluding comments.

II. Factual Background

All this experience is with EE201, Electric Circuits, a course that is required for students in the electrical engineering and in the computer engineering curriculums at Iowa State University (ISU). This course has the very traditional content of a first course in electric circuits. The textbook is Electric Circuits, Fifth Edition, by James W. Nilsson and Susan A. Riedel, Addison Wesley, 1996. (I am told that this textbook has more than 50% market share.) ISU has 15 week semesters.

A. Fall 1997

The class met on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 80 minute sessions; two other sections of this course were available. Seventy eight students began the course in my section; 62 students received letter grades at the end of the semester. I did not require class attendance; however, most students attended every class session. I used a traditional, public web site and a list serve throughout the entire semester.

Because the secure web server for this course was not available at the start of the fall 1997 semester, for the first five weeks of the semester, students submitted homework on paper at each class period; it was graded and returned at the next class period. The web server for the instructional delivery and administration became operational about week six of the semester and all student homework was then done via the computer software, "Mallardâ„¢". When Mallardâ„¢ came on-line, we also began to use a local newsgroup. We produced 85 computer based problems.

I was assigned about 0.5 FTE to this effort; an instructor (beginning graduate student) was assigned 0.25 FTE; and four undergraduate students each worked about 6 hours per week. The undergraduates were hired using funds from an internal ISU grant1 received to support this effort.

Anderson, R. B. M. (1998, June), A First Aln Experience: Issues, Lessons And Emotions Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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