Teaching in the Virtual Classroom: Using Internet and Computer Resources to Enhance Educational Opportunities in a General Plant Sciences Class

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701

To enhance the opportunities for students to access information and the instructors of a large, general plant science class, “Virtual Classroom” concepts using computers resources were implemented. The Virtual Classroom uses three computer resources: 1) a closed subscription LISTSERV for the extramural class discussions, 2) electronic mail for homework assignment and submission, and 3) a World Wide Web Internet homepage for the course. In a large, introductory-level class, student–teacher interaction can be limited. The size of the class and the content may inhibit questioning and discussion among the class participants. The LISTSERV allowed for questions to be posed by students at their leisure and facilitated discussion among students and the instructor outside of the confines of the class meeting. The LISTSERV also allowed instructors to to respond to the students by referring questions to “experts” on a particular subject. Using e-mail for homework assignment and submission was useful for tracking when student read assignments and submitted completed assignments. Electronic assignment grading and returning was paperless and easy for instructors to maintain. The homepage provided students with a permanent syllabus, lecture outlines, homework assignment descriptions, and study aids. Additionally, from the homepage students were able to send e-mail to instructors and search library databases and other electronic databases. Experiences from the instructors using these computer resources will be presented and discussed.

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