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Balancing Power And Ease Of Use In Courseware Authoring Support For Engineers

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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

Issues in Computer Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.260.1 - 8.260.15



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Paper Authors

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Eck Doerry

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

INCA: Balancing Power and Ease-of-Use in Courseware Authoring Support for Engineering Faculty.

Eckehard Doerry, Karim Nassar Dept. of Computer Science, College of Engineering Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ 86011

Abstract The increasing reliance on course websites, whether to support distance education efforts or simply to streamline conventional teaching, has placed an additional burden on engineering faculties as they struggle to make their course materials web-accessible. Because existing commercial courseware authoring packages are based on rigid, generic templates and clunky editing and updating interfaces, faculty are frequently left with the daunting alternative of creating course websites from scratch. The INtegrated Courseware Authoring (INCA) system described here explores the middle ground between free-form, from-scratch website authoring and monolithic commercial systems like WebCT, by strategically integrating a commercial HTML site editor into a comprehensive package of courseware authoring tools custom-designed to meet the specialized needs of engineering faculty. The resulting INCA system is flexible, extensible, and motivates and supports acquisition of web-authoring skills by users.

1.0 Introduction Over the last decade, the web has grown increasingly important in the delivery and management of engineering courses as distance education has become a hot topic in higher education (Tiffin, 1995; Davies, 1998) and, even in conventional on-campus offerings, students have come to expect the conveniences of a course website. Creating a modern, aesthetic website can, however, be extremely arduous, requiring a solid background in HTML, cascading style sheets (CSS), and graphic design principles. Building such a website from scratch can take days, or even weeks for instructors with undeveloped web authoring skills. Further augmenting a course website with advanced server-side features (e.g., an assignment submission tool) additionally requires sophisticated programming skills and in-depth knowledge of web technology. In general, the substantially higher effort (Doube, 2000) associated with creating and offering on-line courses has deterred many faculty from even web-augmenting conventional courses, much less moving entirely to a distance-delivered format. Although there has been much discussion of how to effectively organize or develop web- accessible course materials in general (Talbott, 2002; Prupis, 1998), and a number of on-line learning tools for supporting acquisition of specialized skills have been introduced (Emory, 2002; Barra, 2000), there has been little examination of the challenges faculty face in creating effective course materials and websites, and consideration of how best to support faculty in overcoming

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

Doerry, E. (2003, June), Balancing Power And Ease Of Use In Courseware Authoring Support For Engineers Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11474

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