This article describes a further extension of a strategy to move from a teacher-oriented to a student-oriented learning environment through the use of "collaborative hypertext." Students were trained in the use of MidasWeb, a Web-based environment for the organization, storage, and retrieval of hypertext documents and images. Over the course of the term students worked in teams to construct their MidasWeb sites by developing the underlying conceptual frame-works for their subject areas and uploading documents. The results of questionnaire surveys of the students suggest that the MidasWeb exercise did achieve our objective of disrupting the traditional relationship between teacher and student to create a more student-centered environment. The more students became involved in the exercise the more they felt empowered with respect to the subject matter of the course and took responsibility for deriving meaning from the information they had obtained. In addition, the experience encouraged them to think about the subject matter across interdisciplinary lines. Because the MidasWeb exercise was structured as a group activity, the effectiveness of the team coordinators had an impact on the success of the teams as well as the nature of the learning experience of the individuals involved. Although the MidasWeb exercise was a successful application of digital technology to classroom learning, it was not a resounding success, because the impact on the students in the course was not uniform. While a substantial majority of them found MidasWeb to be very involving and moved toward student-centered learning, approximately one third of them, especially students who were uncomfortable with computer technology, did not benefit fully from the exercise. This suggests that in the future more time should be spent on training, and that MidasWeb needs to be made more user friendly for unsophisticated users.
- Active learning
- Incidental and contextual learning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Political Science and International Relations