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Mallard: Asynchronous Learning On The World Wide Web

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.307.1 - 1.307.7

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Paper Authors

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Michael L. Swafford

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Donna J. Brown

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

Session 2632

MallardTM: Asynchronous Learning on the World-Wide Web

Michael L. Swafford, Donna J. Brown University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ABSTRACT Recently there has been a veritable explosion in the use of the World-Wide Web (WWW) for business, personal, and educational purposes. Although its primary use has been to provide easy access to distributed information, the WWW can also be effective as an interactive multimedia educational aid. Our system, MallardTM, provides a customized learning environment for virtually any subject. MallardTM uses the WWW to provide students with dynamic tutorials, instant and personalized feedback on homework problems, and secure online grading. This document gives a description of MallardTM; the reader is encouraged to access the demonstration at our web-site:

1. OVERVIEW OF MALLARDTM MallardTM is a collection of WWW documents and computer programs that provides students with a complete and customizable asynchronous learning environment suitable for virtually any subject. MallardTM provides a secure environment within which one can organize online course material and test students via interactive quizzes. Student responses to these online quizzes are evaluated by intelligent grading programs that not only assess the correctness of a response, but also determine why an answer is incorrect (e.g., functionally correct, but not in minimal form). To allow different types of questions to be graded, MallardTM has an open design that facilitates the seamless integration of new question types and grading programs.

For each course using MallardTM, every student has her own homepage, which she accesses via login and password. The content of the homepage is selected by the course instructor. From the homepage the student can choose among any of a number of options as shown in Figure 1: view basic course information, access a course newsgroup, send email to an instructor, read lesson material, do practice exercises, or take a quiz. Moreover, because it is her own homepage, specific information (such as grade data) can be individually tailored. Furthermore, when a student submits a quiz online, she gets immediate feedback and can access online assistance if desired.

In addition to a complete learning environment, MallardTM has many features that are attractive from a course administration perspective. Course material can be customized by instructors for individual courses. There is a WWW interface to many administrative functions, such as maintaining current rosters, up-to-the- minute information on student progress, and posting or modifying due dates. Moreover, since quizzes are submitted and graded on-line, the instructor does not have to collect, correct, or even record grades for MallardTM quizzes.

Swafford, M. L., & Brown, D. J. (1996, June), Mallard: Asynchronous Learning On The World Wide Web Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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