The Internet, images, and archaeology: a tutorial

3. Using online resources in teaching: lecturers' and students' needs

Effects of introducing online resources

Online resources are created often with particular audiences in mind and this impacts on their re-use. Any new resource affects both the way students learn, and the teaching environment, and needs to be clearly built into the curriculum. Even supposedly simple tasks can lead to unexpected problems. For example, searching the Web requires:

First year undergraduates cannot be expected to find useful Web resources, unless they are well supported by a subject specialist. Tasks should be set that are demanding but achievable, so that students recognise their value to their studies.

Some concerns of lecturers

Finding the time to introduce new resources or teaching methods is always difficult. Suitable Web-based resources need to be identified; additional software (plugins) may need to be installed; teaching may need to change to include use of the Web; suitable computers with the right software must be available in or outside the class; students (and staff) may need support to access and evaluate online resources. Where students are being directed to online resources for independent study, two crucial issues are:

Even implementing small changes to individual lectures or tutorials requires effort and planning, and in addition should be evaluated, to identify problem areas and successful features. The level and extent of evaluation should complement the teaching being evaluated, and could range from informal feedback from students, questionnaire surveys, class observation, teaching journals, and more. The Evaluation Cookbook (Learning and Teaching Dissemination Initiative 1999) is a good source for further information about evaluation techniques for teaching using new technologies.

Advantages for lecturers' teaching

Web resources support learning and teaching in many ways, by providing access to information not otherwise available, such as museum collections and reports of ongoing excavations. Multimedia tutorials can be used to replace or supplement other teaching – the TLTP Archaeology tutorials are prime examples. These have, however, dated quickly, as users expect more elaborate displays, and advances in surveying techniques have made the content of some of the tutorials less relevant. Perhaps more significant is the lack of funding to update the tutorials. Given the range of material now available online (and adequate time to locate it), it is possible to make use of combinations of resources to support particular teaching needs. The interactive tools now available can be used:

Advantages for students' learning

What students gain from using online resources depends on how these are linked to the curriculum and support networks. The following section outlines a number of teaching scenarios. In general, using online multimedia can:

Students are often motivated to learn through exploration, to discover and investigate topics in more detail. Multimedia resources can provide an introduction to archaeological methods, through virtual excavations, online artefact collections, and datasets, so that students are more informed when they start on practical elements of the course.

Introducing new tools and methods to teaching has an impact on all elements of teaching – class organisation, assessment methods, delivery of information. It provides new opportunities for learning, through:


Last updated: Wed Aug 21 2002

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