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Course Management Systems And Html: Comparison Of Two Approaches To Web Assisted Instruction For Distance Learning

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.147.1 - 4.147.8

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Paper Authors

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George W. Garrison

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Garry D. Coleman

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

Session 3557

Course Management Systems and HTML: Comparison of Two Approaches to Web-Assisted Instruction for Distance Learning Garry D. Coleman, George W. Garrison University of Tennessee Space Institute


This paper describes and compares experiences with two approaches to web-assisted instruction for graduate-level engineering distance learning. In an effort for the faculty to become less dependent on staff and graduate student technical support, two approaches were implemented during the Fall 1998 semester. Each instructor had previously used web-authoring software with considerable technical assistance to develop and maintain web sites in support of a distance learning courses. Under the new approach, one instructor attended an HTML short course and developed and maintained his class web page by creating pages in HTML. This approach required an up front investment to learn HTML, but gave the instructor greater control and flexibility in the development of the class web pages. The other instructor adopted a graphical user interface course management system (CMS) resident on a third-party server. This approach required little development and allowed the instructor to focus on maintaining his class web page; however, the instructor had to work within the framework of the CMS structure and pay a license fee to the provider. The advantages and disadvantages of each approach are described. The two approaches are compared and recommendations for others implementing web-assisted instruction are presented.

I. Introduction

Distance learning is extremely popular with the full-time employed engineer1. It makes obtaining a graduate degree possible without sacrificing one's current career. The functionality of the world wide web (www) and increased access to it have made this tool a necessity, rather than an optional part of delivering distance education. This paper describes and compares the authors' experience as the www has become an increasing part of how they deliver courses. While the courses are primarily delivered via live and recorded video, the instructors rely heavily on the www to assist with delivery. One author used hypertext markup language (HTML) to construct web pages for his course. The other author purchased access to a course management system, which allowed him to post content to an existing framework with numerous features and options. We begin with some background information on the distance learning environment and how web-assisted instruction was done in the past. Then two current approaches to developing web-assisted instruction are described and evaluated. Finally, the two approaches are compared and recommendations for implementing web-assisted instruction are made.

The University of Tennessee offers an MS in Industrial Engineering via distance learning. Classes are taught from the Knoxville and Space Institute campuses, but most of the students reside elsewhere. Interactive classrooms, with two-way audio and video, are scattered throughout the state. Students unable to attend one of the interactive classroom sites take courses

Garrison, G. W., & Coleman, G. D. (1999, June), Course Management Systems And Html: Comparison Of Two Approaches To Web Assisted Instruction For Distance Learning Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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