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Computer Integrated Classes
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CIC Faculty Guide Online

Course Design and Management

Integrating technology into the classroom will require you to reconsider some aspects of your course design. Certain techniques that worked well for you in a traditional classroom may not be as effective in CIC. Conversely, CIC offers you a vast new array of options to explore. This section of the guide has two objectives. First, it provides an overview of the differences between a traditional and a computer-integrated classroom. Second, it suggests some of the ways you can use the different technologies to develop innovative approaches to teaching.


Course Activities: Lab vs. Seminar Room

Unlike a traditional class, in a computer-integrated course you and your students will be moving between two different classroom environments. For this reason, CIC courses tend to develop an alternating "rhythm." Each classroom has its own assets, and in designing daily activities you will often find yourself looking for ways to make the most of the advantages each environment offers.

Differences Between the Classrooms

The lab classrooms are, fundamentally, de-centered spaces. There is no official place where the instructor stands, and therefore there is no single focus for your students' attention. Instead of facing you, students tend to face terminals or their fellow students. Although such a configuration can be initially unsettling, it often also tends to be liberating--for both instructors and students.

The physical structure of the LAN classrooms also enables students to alternate their modes of work efficiently. Without moving from their desks, they can either work privately at their terminals or work in a collaborative space with other students. Each workstation is equipped with one computer for each student, but by swiveling their chairs and angling the monitors, students may easily work in collaborative groups. Moreover, there is ample shared desk space that connects each group of terminals, making collaboration on paper or work on a shared text possible. In effect, the design of our workstations affords students multiple composing and collaborative learning options.

Since there is no instructor's desk and no official "teaching position" in the CIC computer classrooms, instructors also tend to circulate freely among their students. Attention is dispersed, so students are able to focus more on each other than they do in a traditional classroom environment. This frees the CIC instructor to move about during the class period, focusing on students one-on-one or in small-group settings, dramatically increasing the amount of contact between the instructor and individual students. Combined with the low-level buzz of the computer terminals and students at work typing, the pedagogical space in the computer classrooms is constructed so that "authority" often works very differently here than it does in a conventional classroom. The seminar-style classrooms, although more conventional in design, offer opportunities for collaborative work on course readings and student writing. With the projector and laptop, instructors can project passages for students to collectively annotate or lead a group brainstorming activity that can be recorded and saved in Word.

The seminar-style classroom also allows for whole-class discussion without the sometimes distracting presence of the monitors. Although individual instructors will find different advantages in each environment, the chart below summarizes what experienced instructors have said about the kinds of activities that work best in each CIC classroom. In most cases, making an exercise work effectively is simply a matter of finding creative ways to use the advantages of each environment.

Suggested Lab and Seminar Room Activities


Activity Seminar Room Lab
Class Discussion (oral)
Class Discussion (online)  
Small Group Work
Independent Writing  
Collaborative Writing  
Workshop Activities



Transitioning to Two-Hour Class Periods

Unlike most other 100-level courses taught by graduate student instructors in the English Department, CIC classes meet twice a week. Making the transition to a two-hour class period and to this new schedule may require some initial adjustments to your course plan. We suggest that you keep the following factors in mind:


Managing the Lab Classroom

"Where do I stand?" is a question that most instructors have rarely--or at least not literally--considered. While it's common to think about whether you are going to sit on the instructor's desk or to pace in front of the class, it's usually assumed that there is a "teaching position" somewhere at the front of the room and that, for the most part, students are positioned facing that focal point. Whether it's an amphitheater lecture hall or a small seminar room, the physical spaces of all classrooms contain various apparatuses that work unnoticeably to consolidate the instructor's position of authority--a chalkboard and instructor's desk define the "front" of the classroom. Students typically sit in arranged desks while watching the instructor, who is free to stand, walk, sit, or roam. Although these features serve a particular pedagogical function, they many not be the most conducive arrangement for a writing class based on the process method or any course that emphasizes collaborative critical inquiry.

Decentered classrooms offer a unique set of advantages and challenges in composition courses. The CIC networked classrooms, with their unique physical layout, calls these strategies of centralized authority into question. This may be initially disconcerting, since instructors sometimes experience a certain loss of control. However, the situation also provides a number of creative possibilities for both students and instructors. You can begin to develop new strategies that ask students to take more responsibility for their own work and for communicating their ideas to each other. Moreover, you can learn a great deal about where authority comes from and is positioned in the classroom, because of course it's not really located at the "front" of any room. Here are a few hints for managing a de-centered classroom environment:



Teaching the Technology

During the first two weeks of the term, your students will need to become familiar with the class network and online resources. We suggest that you incorporate course activities that allow students to become self-sufficient with the course's technology requirements as soon as possible. Occasionally, instructors feel a little disconcerted at the thought of having to “teach”the technology. However, one of the Assistant Directors is always available during the first two weeks of each quarter to serve as an in-class technical assistant. Furthermore, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that your students learn to use the equipment quickly and effectively.

  1. Where will students access course materials (class directory, online)?
  2. Where will they save materials and how will they name their files ?
  3. Where will students submit completed work (class directory, online, both)?
  4. How will students transfer work between lab and home (flash drive, email attachment, File Manager, FTP)?



Examples: Minimum to Maximum Levels of Computer Integration

While we encourage innovation and experimentation, we also recommend that instructors make sure that they keep the technology portion of their course manageable. The following models should help you decide what technologies to use, how to use them, and how much technology is right for you.

Minimum Computer Integration

This model will allow you to place assignments, peer review guidelines, and in-class exercises on the network. Students will be able to do in-class writing and peer review on their computers; however, they will submit assignments primarily in hard copy. You will have a paper-heavy classroom.

  1. Review with students your class folder organization system and give them instructions for naming and saving files on the network.
  2. Discuss methods for transferring electronic files from home to lab and for saving documents produced at home in a format readable by Word.
  3. Teach students how to make and save personal copies of class Word files before beginning individual or group work.
  4. Show students how to use Word's comment function for electronic peer review.

Moderate Computer Integration

In addition to all the components of the minimum model, this level of integration includes online discussion and research. Students use a web-based class discussion board outside class. They also use search engines, reference tools and electronic documents available via the UW Libraries web site. Class sessions will feature activities that build upon online homework.

  1. Set up a GoPost discussion space, and require students to engage in discussion outside the classroom. Their electronic discussion can count as part of their participation grade or as credit/no credit informal writing. Review postings in class, summarizing and expanding upon key points or interrogating how writers could develop emerging claims.
  2. Consider using the electronic discussion area in class. Students can post group work notes, revise postings after class discussion, or exchange files for peer review.
  3. Show students how to access the UW Libraries web site. Conduct a hands-on research session during which you teach students how to select appropriate databases for their research question, use effective search terms and evaluate sources.

Maximum Computer Integration

This model features all elements of moderate integration, but adds a course web site, online assignment submission, presentations that require visual aids, electronic grading, and use of multiple media for in-class activities or student work.

  1. Set up a class web site using CommonView, SimpleSite or a web-authoring program.
  2. Create an online assignment submission area with Collect It. Use Word's comment feature to grade student work, and return work via Collect It.
  3. Require students to incorporate visual aids (images, PowerPoint slides, video or audio clips) into their presentations. Discuss how to use such aids effectively.
  4. Teach students to effectively search for images, sound and video, and design assignments that ask students to incorporate images, video or sound in their essays or experiment with audio-visual forms of argumentation.
  5. Encourage students to publish work on the class web site or to construct their own sites.



The First Weeks: A Checklist


Preparation Before the Quarter Begins

Week One or Two in the Lab: In-Class Activities

Weeks One and Two: Preparation for Coming Classes