The objective is to enable students to learn
more accounting than they
currently do in a physical classroom. After thirty years of teaching
accounting, I have come to believe that the physical classroom lecture
approach has a flaw - all students in a class are force-fed the material at the
same rate. Students sitting in a classroom are typically quite heterogeneous.
Their aptitude for accounting ranges from poor to outstanding, their interest
in accounting ranges from none to great and their backgrounds for the course
range from inadequate to excellent. Because of these differences, professors
are forced to deliver the material at a pace somewhere between that which is
optimal for "under prepared" and "over prepared" students. The result is that
some students are over challenged and others are bored. The virtual classroom
approach allows all students to master the lecture material at their own pace.
Having used interactive multimedia for all my accounting courses
Fall 1992 semester, I was in an ideal position to upgrade all the computerized
materials I developed during the six-year period and move them to a virtual
environment. The interactive keypads which I have used so successfully to
provide feedback and motivate students to learn are now be on the screen
instead of in their hands. The multimedia which has enhanced student learning
so well is now be on the computer screen instead of on the classroom screen.
The timing of the delivery of the material is entirely under the control of
each student. My voice, which in the past came over the classroom speakers,
now comes over the computer speakers.
DETAILS OF APPROACH
All lectures will be presented in a virtual classroom. Students will
be able to
"attend" the virtual lecture by using their own computer or by going to any
Loyola computer lab. Students who use their own computer will be required to
use the Windows 95 (or higher) operating system. All other required software
can be downloaded free on the Internet. Students will use an Internet browser
to obtain delivery of the interactive multimedia lecture materials which include
text, audio and animations. The interactive materials will be provided using
a combination of PowerPoint and HTML format for Web delivery.
The courses will, in fact, be quite different from correspondence
students do not interact with fellow students or their professor in the same room.
Students will be able to interact with each other and me via a LISTSERV
mailing list. Students will also be able to interact with me via the telephone and
meet with me during office hours on the Baltimore campus.
1. Students registering for this course must be highly motivated
are comfortable with computer technology, especially the Internet.
2. This is a very time-consuming, rigorous course. The fact that the lectures will
be virtual will not make it easy.
Many colleges and universities have begun or are in the process of
offer virtual classes using the Inter/intranet. The best source of pertinent
information I have found which supports the approach is in a scholarly research
paper at http://www.trinity.edu/~rjensen/255wp.htm. It discusses the use of
asynchronous network courses to improve education and has links to Web sites
for colleges and universities which are using the approach. It also has links
to relevant research being done by organizations such as the Alfred P. Sloan
Foundation. The author of the paper is Dr. Robert Jensen, an accounting
professor at Trinity University which is a Loyola benchmark school. Jensen has
been recognized by the American Accounting Association as a leader in using
technology in accounting education.
Jensen quotes D.N. Langenberg, The Chancellor of the University System
Maryland, from the September 12, 1997 issue of The Chronicle of Higher
Education, where he said "some of our traditional courses perhaps should no
longer meet in regularly scheduled class periods even if these courses are only
made available to resident students".
Jensen also cites Lanny Arvan, an economics professor at the University
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who says "I have been teaching my undergraduate
[intermediate microeconomics] course using Asynchronous Learning Networks
(ALN) to enhance instruction. We have been using a conferencing program called
FirstClass to have students interact with each other, me, and on-line... Many
of us early adopters of ALN contend that 'it works,' --- students do better
under ALN than in the traditional approach. This essay is intended to provide
an economics framework for explaining what is going on here, across
disciplines, to suggest future directions for validating our contention, and to
aid instructors in thinking about how to use ALN in their course."