Friday, October 1, 2004 Faculty Overlooks E-Resources

Georgetown University makes a number of electronic resources available to faculty members which, when utilized, have the potential to make students’ lives easier. Blackboard facilitates efficient professor-student communication and allows for easy transmission of documents. Online course syllabi put detailed course information at students’ fingertips come registration time. The library’s electronic reserves allow students easy access to documents previously accessible only in hard copy.

These tools, when properly used, greatly ease the burden on students. On the professors’ end, they are easy to implement (and University Information Systems is always there to help). There is no reason why their use of these tools – specifically electronic reserves and online syllabi – should be anything less than universal. Professors should be encouraged and, at times, forced to maximize their use of these tools which the university has paid to make available.

Professors should make greater use of electronic reserves in assigning course reading. Online reserves are much easier to access in comparison to the hard copy reserves available at the library, especially for those students who live off campus. And professors using electronic reserves save their students money, since they can post specific excerpts from larger publications online instead of requiring their students to purchase the entire book and pay a hefty sum. Professors who have difficulty with the online posting system can get help – UIS and the professors’ own departments should take the initiative in training them.

Some of these features – namely, online syllabi – are so valuable for students that they should be mandatory for all professors. Online syllabi allow students to be fully informed when making their preliminary class selections.

Students often find the registration process difficult because they often have no idea how professors structure their courses, and what readings they typically assign. Confronted with a wide variety of professors teaching different sections, these students cannot match themselves to the professor that best fits their interests and academic strengths. The problem is especially acute for returning study abroad students, who aren’t on campus to speak to prospective professors during the pre-registration period.

While some professors have begun to take advantage of these resources, many do not always make full use of the tools available. Despite the widespread use of electronic communication at Georgetown, many professors fail to realize the great benefits these tools provide to students or simply refuse to adopt these technological innovations into their teaching.

Students, who may not be tech-savvy, must nonetheless learn to use these online tools when they arrive on the Hilltop, since many professors require students to submit assignments through Blackboard or use the electronic reserves. Professors who need help making use of the tools available have UIS at their beck and call.

While it is understandable that some professors do not come to Georgetown with the technological proficiency possessed by most students, this is quickly becoming a poor excuse. Considering the high-tech – and high tempo – age we live in, professors’ e-reluctance provides a barrier to the effectiveness of their courses.

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