Re: WWW Strengths & Weakness

Kannan Thiruvengadam (kannan%CS.UALBERTA.CA@vm.ucs.UAlberta.CA)
Wed, 7 Jun 1995 23:21:49 -0600

> From: Kannan Thiruvengadam <kannan@CS.UALBERTA.CA>
> Proceeding on these lines, one can conclude that placing
> loooong (educational) documents on the web is no way to *use* it.
>                 I can support this as a research tool, but how would
> this apply to novels or even long review papers?  A concern of mine
> is the possibility of confusing the numbers of embedded layers one
> has to traverse for depth of coverage and not recognizing what
> may very well be superficiality.
>                                         Howard Kaplan
>                                         Hkaplan@udcvax.bitnet

I was thinking only about online course material.

novels :

Hypermedia does opens new ways to writing interesting
novels, where readers could be asked to decide on the
paths they want to take, thereby bringing some 'adventure'
component into it. [Such "story-tree" novels are already there,
as you might know, in print. They ask you to go to
a specific page number based on your decision. I heard
there was such a movie too, where the spectators got to
vote on whether someone was to be killed or not,and the story
took different turns depending on the result of the voting.
Hypermedia just provides an easy way to do such things].
Ahh.. Why not use such methods to help students learn by
'virtual' experience ? I now see it has educational uses too.
All the same, why would someone want to use
the web to write a conventional style novel ? That a particular
technology opens the possibility to do new things, should not
be mistaken as a claim that everything can be done using
that technology. There are things that it can't do,
and there are things to do which you don't need that.

review papers :

I have not seen good tools even for electronic annotation yet
(I have not been looking for them, I should add). With my present
knowledge base, I tend to agree with you about the
current lack of support for writing electronic review
of electronic/non-electronic publications. But I really
haven't given much thought to this, so I could be wrong.
Also, I read somewhere how important note-taking is for
some students, and it got me wondering how it is to be
done when electronic teaching material is used. (Students
often tend to highlight things that they think is
important, or rewrite some complex looking statements
in ways that are more intelligible to them)

your concern :

I have always thought that the explicit availability
of these layers will only help students to be prepared for the
degree of mental involvement required to study them. The
one who is preparing the document has to make sure
the layering and the conceptual depth of the material
match well. If you are
talking about the 'Lost in HyperSpace' syndrome, I share the
concern. But it does not outweigh the useful potential of
Hypermedia, and I am sure we can find solutions to that syndrome.

[Lost in Hyperspace : You don't know where you are;
you don't know how much of the document you have read
(and therefore how much is left); you can't decide in
which  order to traverse the tree.. etc.]

- Kannan