Meeting of the Minds
Project Number 01 – 1994
Ohio State University
3016 Derby Hall/154 N. Oval Mall
Columbus, Ohio 43210-1339
Fax: (614) 292-2055Acker.firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Individuals And Organizations Associated With The Project
Head Librarian and Associate Professor
Ohio State University
224 Main Library
1858 Neil Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43210-1339
Fax: (614) 292-7859Bracken.email@example.com
Academic Technology Services
Ohio State University
7 Lord Hall
124 W. 17th/Columbus
Fax: (614) 292-3299
Biographical summary Associate Professor of Communication.
Teaching/research areas collaborative inquiry, new media technologies, designing communication systems for social systems.
Biographical summary Head librarian, Communication, Theater, and English.
International index/search strategies for telecommunications. Electronic access to information on telecommunications in the
European Union. 17th Century Printing technologies.
Biographical summary Director of division that provides professional instructional, media, and
computer applications design, development, and production services.
Expertise in evaluation, user-centered design, needs assessment.
Meeting of the Minds (MoM) is: (1) an interdisciplinary design team at Ohio State University, (2) a groupware front end for Mosaic, in turn a front end to the World Wide Web, and (3) an approach to collaborative education that integrates telecommunications and face-to-face meetings. MoM, which has been used in various iterations with two undergraduate, two graduate, two cross-university (one of which is international) classes, is discussed in these three ways below.
An Interdisciplinary Design Team
Ohio State University has funded a design team to improve interdisciplinary understanding and to work in very rapidly changing (time sensitive) areas of inquiry. Our design team consists of a Communication Department faculty member, a Public Policy School faculty member, a librarian in charge of Communication, Theater, and English, an Associate Director of our Academic Technology Service, the director, two programmers, and an evaluation specialist from our Center of Instructional Resources, and graduate/undergraduate students interested in collaborative inquiry.
A Groupware Front-End
We have developed MoM on the Macintosh platform, and will extend it to Windows in 1995. Using a client-server approach, MoM allows groups of students to share a workspace we call “working document.” Working document manages serial access to a group-authored electronic paper. It provides editing, commenting, and hypertext linking to “public documents.” Public documents are the writings and arguments of individual students and works they reference in developing their thinking. WAIS-based searching on the working document and on the public documents helps provides access to large amounts of information.
Students submit their created and found documents using the MoM program which automatically converts them to HTML-formatted documents that are deposited in a Mosaic-browsable database. We use documents to mean audio, still image, quicktime movie, and text-based material. From public labs at the university, or from properly-equipped home computers, students can submit any of these “documents” for sharing by the group. Each document is prefaced by a form that includes an abstract, key words, file size, file type, and who submitted the document. This form is what allows WAIS searches to operate productively across multimedia.
The class is broken into groups of 5-7 students who are given access to a password-protected Home page. They can read any of the other group’s Mosaic databases, but can only submit documents, edit, comment, and link in their own.
Our goal for Meeting of the Minds is to help make traditional lecture courses viable as multiple student-centered, interactive courses, and to make university education available to the “new traditional student,” In the case of Ohio State, the new “typical student” is 25 years of age, working more than 20 hours per week, and committed to family, work, and community, as well as university obligations. These time poor students need strong out-of-class technical/social networks to leverage their time spent in the classrooms with fellow students and faculty. At this stage, we are only working with classes of 20-60 students, most of whom use public facilities rather than home. However, our university is making significant commitments to home-based access through site licensing of “Homenet,” a software package developed at OSU that supports SLIP connections to our campus computer resources.
Team involvement: The team meets on a regular basis and now has succeeded in learning each other’s vocabulary and blind spots. The team’s faculty offer the courses, designers provide e-mail assistance to student users and interative development of MoM based on problems, the librarian compiles information resources and consults with students, academic technology services also provides network support/trouble shooting, and equipment loans.
Use of network resources: MoM is client-server based, operates on SONET and from home on HomeNET (SLIP connection). MoM incorporates the Mosaic browser and can generate links between the Working document among the multiple WWW databases.
Student-centered: Classes are structured along three objectives: to teach research/learning as a collaborative discovery process to student teams, to promote group and individual authorship, and in the process, audience perspective-taking skills, and to encourage students teaching other students (and the faculty!).
Information literacy: Incorporates Mosaic/WWW, Lexis/Nexis, e-mail, list serves, and groupware. Argumentation theory in an information-rich environment.
Relevance to undergraduate program: MoM is used in our senior capstone courses in which students research rapidly evolving communication problems/issues, develop a group (social) response to the problem, and then present it. At the graduate level, we use MoM to re-write telecommunications policy for the National information infrastructure, and to support an international joint course to get diverse cultural perspectives on communication policy and design.
Departure from lecture format: Our courses privilege student-student and student-material exchanges as much as faculty-student. Approximately 1/3 of material in the course is faculty presented or assigned. The remainder is shared student resources and electronic and face-to face exchanges.
For a first hand sense of what we are doing please access:
Enter the password “notyet” to see our students’ work on the National Information Infrastructure. Or, enter “CAST” to see our collaborative research paper for the “Finding our Way” conference.
Communication 659: Undergraduate capstone course in Communication and Society. 25 students per section, one or two sections per quarter.
Communication 850C: Graduate course in Policy and Design of the National information infrastructure. Involved joint classes with Cornell’s Multimedia Lab group. 14 students per quarter, one quarter per year.
Communication 850D: Graduate course in comparative telecommunications policy. Jointly taught with University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Involves 3 week travel to host country by visitors and then use of telecommunications (MoM, e-mail, videoconferences) for ongoing research/joint student papers. 10-15 student per quarter, one quarter per year.
Public Policy and Management 660: Masters level course in Public Policy. 60 students per quarter, one quarter per year.