In September, Nethowto started out as a face2face PowerPoint presentation called “An Introduction to Internet” and a series of stand alone web pages.
Formally named EDPSY 497 & 597 (undergraduate & graduate level) ran for the first time fully online during the spring and summer session of 1996.
Frames were big back in 1996 because they allowed variety of navigational control while still keeping the user on the site.
We started working with different color backgrounds to bring attention to specific parts of the site and also added more graphics to “spice” up the site and stay in step with advances on the Web. The course was awarded NAWeb 1996 Best of the Web for being the best single educational website presented at the NAWeb conference of 1996.
More color and better graphics were added. Usability research indicated that a users eyes fall 1/3 of the page down and slightly off to the right, so key information was placed strategically in this location to insure that students would notice the information.
While the site look and layout remained essentially the same, the functionality of the course was significantly improved by the addition of many dynamic HTML components. The course consent form was directly linked to an SQL based course management system that pulled student profile information from directly from the form eliminating the need to manually input student information. Subsequently, students were able to view their assignment marks online in real time which is a feature that the University of Alberta as a whole was only able to provide after 2004. A database managed links section was added to the course that allowed for web-based additions and update as well as link validation.
The web-based conferencing system called the WebBoard was deployed in the course and allowed for very configurable and effective web-based conferencing. Due to the high enrolement 100+ students and the high volume of web-based discussions a stand alone WebBoard server was used to support the course from 2004-2005. The Windows 2000 server was also used to support all other dynamic components of the course which still essentially static HTML based pages running on a UNIX/Apache server.
In the fall of 2004 EDIT 435 and 535 were split and no longer taught in conjunction. EDIT 535 was further developed to reflect the instructional requirements of a graduate level course.
By late 2004, the University of Alberta adopted WebCT as their platform for web-based/online instruction and the WebBoard server was taken at down the end of 2004 and WebCT discussions were therefore incorporated into the course for the winter sessions of 2005. Unfortunately, WebCT did not offer enough configurability and reliability and as a result the conferencing and collaboration component of the course suffered enormously in the Winter session. Despite widespread problems with WebCT and student dislike for WebCT across the entire University of Alberta campus the Faculty of Education continue to pressure instructors use the WebCT system for web-based instruction. Further problems with WebCT in the Spring and Summer session and pressure by the faculty of Education to use WebCT completely and the removal of support from alternative instructional system resulted in the Nethowto courses being moved off the Univeristy of Alberta system and onto commercially supported server.
Both EDIT 435 and 535 were completely redesigned to reflect the advances in the Web and greater collaboration components like Blogs were added. As part of the re-design an open source content management system called Mambo/Joomla as incorporated to fully automate all aspects of the course. The entire course is run dynamically out of MySQL databases through the Mambo interface. This allows components and modules to be easily added as well as simplifies the daily updates and maintenance of the course. The design still follows strict usability guidelines as well the inquisitivist approach and in its tenth year must be considered a mature application of inquisitvism.
These versions of EDIT435 & 535 ran until the fall of 2007.