26 July 1998 ............... Length about 900 words (6000 bytes).
This is a WWW document maintained by
Steve Draper, installed at http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/HCI/cscln/teach.html.
Learner main page
Course home page (sample)
The design of the CSCLN ATOM
[Notes for teachers and authors]
This is notes about the design and organisation of the ATOM on computer
supported cooperative lecture notes.
The aims (the benefits hoped for) are:
- Each student will learn the material from the lecture they are assigned to
better. Writing notes in any new format requires mental re-processing, just as
writing an essay does, and both understanding and learning usually result.
- Students need notes to revise from. This will give them an alternative form
of such notes: with higher quality because they were done at the time, and
contributed to by many.
- The Q&A format is probably a good one we should use more. Lectures are
normally delivered as material, without saying what they are useful for. The
challenge (to the teacher) implicit in this format is: what use is this
material? Each question is an answer to this challenge; poor questions imply
a poorly motivated lecture.
- Peer collaboration is well known in the research literature to have
educational benefits, but little is done to promote it. This promotes it.
- Team work is required in most jobs: this gives students a little practice
at a typical task: producing a document for others.
- Team work mediated by electronic media (CSCW) is interesting, may be
increasingly required in jobs, is a topic closely related to HCI but not in the
syllabus of this course. This exercise will give students a little experience
of it, and of its difficulties.
- The questions and discussion will be valuable feedback signals to the
teacher on what students made of each lecture, and what didn't go across
successfully. So feedback to teacher will be a major benefit of the exercise,
and in a context that allows some immediate remedial action (giving better
answers than the class could generate, and having them recorded where they will
be a permanent resource for the whole class).
No further objectives.
How it fits into the course
See the overview page.
Rationale (why is the exercise designed this way?)
There are several ideas feeding into this design.
- Learner reprocessing.
Re-expressing material in a new format (e.g. essay assignments) is a powerful
aid to learning. This is one way of organising this. On this theory, each
student will learn best the material they write the notes on.
By looking at each others' notes, they gain an extra bit of information
about how well they understood each lecture (each piece of material).
This is an alternative source of information often tacitly gained in tutorials
and in question time at lectures: finding out what other students do and don't
know. Higher education depends on students managing their own learning, which
depends upon their self-estimates of how well they know material.
- Feedback to teachers
Similarly, the teacher is likely to discover in good time problems either
because the web notes are inaccurate or because the students ask about
points when uncertain how to write up the notes.
- Peer interaction
Peer interaction is good for learning content, good for
giving opportunities for self-monitoring, and good for building a
community spirit in the class. However attempts to promote student discussion
frequently fail. This is one way of stimulating it.
- CSCW experience
In the context of an HCI course, this is also seen as positive as a
practical experience of CSCW.
- Practice at web authoring
In the context of an information technology course in 1998, it was seen as
positive just by being an occasion for practicing web authoring.
- The Q&A format as another perspective on material
The question and answer format is itself interesting. It could be
interesting to take this further, and construct more course materials as if
they were a reference manual (i.e. indexed by questions). To the extent this
is pursued, it could offer another angle on a course than the one given in
lectures or textbooks. You can look at the list of questions on the lower
part of the index page
to get an impression of this in this application. For more on this see
this memo, particularly
this section of it.
Delivery requires various preparatory organising actions by the local teachers.
You just have to decide whether you want to do it, and how you will give
students credit for it.
And you have to be ready to launch it in the first minutes of the first
lecture, including selecting the first team (for that lecture). Of course if
you have warned the class in advance, that would be good.
The method of assigning students to teams (groups), which is also
explained to the students, is at the end of
You must have the web pages (handouts) specifying the exercise ready before
the start of the course.
TRAILs: past student work
A set of web notes from the one delivery so far can be
Evaluation reports and comments
There has been one delivery of this ATOM so far, and I hope the evaluation
report from this will be available here soon.
Learner main page
Course home page (sample)