ESL 91 FALL, 2001


Hau Tak Stanley Chan
ESL 91
Fall, 2001

ESSAY TOPIC: Research recent developments in online or distance education. Search the Internet to find information on colleges and the online courses they offer. Choose 2 different online courses and evaluate them, comparing and contrasting how well you think they fit the goals described in the article, "The Impact of Information Technology on Education in the 21st Century."

Today, online courses are very popular and helpful to people who study. Online courses are like regular classes. However, students of online courses do not need to go to school and attend classes in conventional classrooms. They just turn on their computer, get online, go to their class website, and logon to their class account. Then they can take lessons just like they were sitting in a classroom.

Online courses provide students with flexible time to study and alleviate the need to carry a lot of books to school. They are very beneficial to people with jobs and those who need to stay home to take care of children. Most universities and schools provide some online classes on the web. The online courses are still having acceptance problems with some students who do not know how to use computers. These students do not know how to post their questions to their instructor or classmates via the web. Other people have problems because they do not own a computer at home. Nonetheless, online courses are still popularly on the world. Internet schools or universities try to create perfect environments for students to learn. They provide students with more choices and allow them to choose the learning style that best fit their schedule.

For students to take an online course, they must possess basic computer knowledge. The following is a step-by-step description of how the process works. The process begins with you enrolling in the online course of choice. In the learning environment (Virtual classroom), you can easily get any information from your instructor or other classmates. You must finish any assignment that your instructor assigns and submit your work on time. The second step is to download software from the school web site. You must install this software in you own computer. After setting the software, you can then use it to get information, submit your work and talk to other people on the web. The software program is similar to e-mail programs but goes way beyond. Besides being more private, the software allows you to send messages one-to-one, or join public groups for discussion. You can also exchange any course materials and files to share information. The third step is how to learn to use e-mail and Internet conferencing. E-mail is a tool on the Internet. The idea is like a letter. You write something on paper. When you are finished writing, you then send it out to your friend home or any destination. E-mail is a similar thing. You can also attach any file to an e-mail. That is a powerful tool. Students finish their homework, and the instructor can use e-mail to collect their homework.  After the instructor corrects all of them, s/he sends them back to the students. Online conferencing is like a private room. Students can join a conference room to talk with their instructor and classmates in real time.  The instructor will organize the conferences into folders, put each week’s lectures, reading materials, and assignments into their own individual folder. Conferences can be student/student and/or student/instructor. So that is really like a traditional classroom. Participants can talk with each other by typing on their computer.

I found two schools that offer courses on the Internet. They are “Online Learning Center” and “Ohio University.” These two schools provide good online courses on the web. They use ways that are similar to the above description to conduct online courses, but they differ in their course requirements and grading methods. In “Ohio University”, students are required to have completed the first year composition course before taking any online courses. The university wants to make sure students have basic English writing skills in the course. Grades are given as follows. The students will be graded four times. Lessons 1 to 3 are 20%. Lessons 4 to 5: 20%. Research paper and lessons 6-7: 40%. Lessons 8-10 and final paper: 20%. But “Online Learning Center” is totally different from “Ohio University.” They do not have any requirement for students. They give more freedom to students for choosing online courses.

Online courses will be very popular in the future. Students can stay at the office or at home to attend online courses. Student can get more time to work on their studies, home, or their job. They do not have to worry about any traffic or weather problems. When they have free time, they can logon to their online course to get new information and work on it. The online course works 24-hours. They can be logged on from anywhere and anytime. Traditional classes cannot support too many students. If the government builds the school, that costs a lot of money. Instructors, land, equipment, workers are all expenses that require lots of money. But an online course is different. The government can save a lot of money on land and hired workers. If students are far away from the school, it is no problem to take an online course. At this point, the school will have more income from students while keeping their monthly expense to the minimum.

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Danny Tran
ESL 91
Fall, 2001

ESSAY TOPIC: Research recent developments in online or distance education. Search the Internet to find information on colleges and the online courses they offer. Choose 2 different online courses and evaluate them, comparing and contrasting how well you think they fit the goals described in the article, "The Impact of Information Technology on Education in the 21st Century."

Recently the World Wide Web (WWW) has attracted significant attention as a technology for supporting distance education. Distance education is a term that most of us hear frequently, and we might wonder exactly what it refers to. Distance education differs from traditional classroom instruction in that instructors and students are separated by geographic distance, and communications between instructors and students are mediated by technology.

The capability to create and distribute formatted hypertext documents through the Internet enables instructors to provide individuals who cannot participate in a traditional class with access to educational materials. Hypertext means that there will be links to other pages at several points within the main text. The Internet is fast emerging as one of a teacher’s most important tools, with the World Wide Web emerging as the easiest and most popular way to access the Internet. But many educators, both teachers and students, are at a loss for how to use this tool properly.

I am going to describe two online courses; one, an On-line Advanced Composition course at Ohio University and the second, a course in Creative Writing at Indian University. At Ohio University, they have an On-line Advanced Composition course, found at This page has a specific syllabus and all the details about the course. The section called Course Description has the description and information we need to know about the On-line Advanced Composition. List of Lessons tells us about lessons in the textbook,” The Practice of Writing”; only the students who are registered in the course have the password to get in. How We Do IT explains the class work though web pages, e-mail attachments, a shared folder and on-line conference. Workload tells us what the formal paper looks like and drafts. Required Text tells us which textbooks we need for the class. Recommended Hardware tells us we needed to either use a Windows-based PC or a Macintosh. Software Needed was also a requirement for the course. We need software such as SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) or PPP (Point to Point Protocol), a graphical web browser like Netscape or Internet Explorer, a word-processing program like WordPerfect or Microsoft Word, an e-mail program, and at least 1MB space to save the messages. Grading shows how the professor is going to grade us based on the work, participation, writing and care. Participation shows we could participate in discussion, class exercises and critiques of other student work since it was independent study. Academic Honesty says we needed to do our own writing, not copy from someone else’s writing. Requirements/Fees/How to Enroll shows how we could apply to On-line Advanced Composition and the fees. How to Contact Us has all the possible ways that we could use to get in touch with professor or the staff when we needed. Your Instructor: David Sharpe is a paragraph about the professor and a link to his homepage. This main web site was revised on October 16, 2001 and is maintained by David Sharpe. This web site also has an e-mail address if anyone wants to write comments or suggestions. This web site has been posted by Ohio University from 1999 to 2001. 

At Indiana University, they provide a class called W505: Creative Writing for Alternative Educators at They have a simple main page, which tells us some information about the course. The main page shows us when the class begins. We have to click on the new link, and it would take us where we need to go to register and to find the course fee information. After we register, we have to confirm the instructor at another different link. Instructor is a new link to Professor Thomas Watson’s homepage. Course Description tells about the course for K-12 educators of any disciplines the opportunity to write first themselves. Course Information tells us the course work over e-mail and web site. Prerequisites are for undergraduate degree students. Instructor Information says that all contact would be via e-mail, electronic conference and web site. Instructional Objectives tells us the goal and objectives for the course. The goal is to increase the ability to write and the objectives are the way to improvise. Evaluation and Assessment says the grade would be based on the work, participation and online conference. This main page also provides a syllabus, online resources and bibliography. We have to click on the topic and it would take us to that page. Tom Watson last updated this web site on October 18, 2001 at 14:45:20. If we have any comments, there is an e-mail address. This web site was copyrighted 2001 by The Trustees of Indiana University.

These are examples of 2 distance education courses. There are some advantages and disadvantages to distance education. The first advantage is that it is possible to convey knowledge to an unlimited number of people and provide all students with equal opportunities for taking on-line courses. The second advantage is cheaper costs, saving time, money and energy. The first disadvantage is teaching and learning behavior change dramatically online; teachers are reduced to subject-matter-specialists or replaced in certain areas of work. The second disadvantage is independent autonomous learning is extremely hard to be induced, expository teaching and receptive learning are strengthened (Peters, 1967 and 1998); learning is extremely hard to be induced. Distance education would need to adapt to new concepts such as neo- and post-industrialization for parallel to the changes that have taken place in society (Peters, 1967 and 1998). Distance education must be promoted and researched to resolve the more problematic issues such as the missing of autonomous, open and communicative learning.

Although distance education will significantly impact university learning in the future, the traditional university will not be lost because it provides experiences that are unavailable to the distance learning student. The traditional university provides fast response, face-to-face talking and learning. As a result, the university of the future will be a mixed mode university and distance education will be a prominent if not a fundamental element in it. Nonetheless the traditional university and distance education will have to evolve to stay in competition for the students’ dollar. Without a doubt, the university will continue to change in this information age. I believe this is just another progression of educational thought and practice. The digital age will not devour the traditional university, but it may just mark the deconstruction of the ivory towers of higher education (Peters, 1998).       

Work Cited Peters, Otto. "Two Structural Changes in Distance Education: Industrialization and Digitization." Online <>

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Elsie Louis-Jacques
ESL 91
Fall, 2001

ESSAY TOPIC: Research recent developments in online or distance education. Search the Internet to find information on colleges and the online courses they offer. Choose 2 different online courses and evaluate them, comparing and contrasting how well you think they fit the goals described in the article, "The Impact of Information Technology on Education in the 21st Century."

During the second half of the twentieth century the world has become witness to the extraordinary growth and development of technology.  Among the parts of the new technology, the Internet has turned out to be the most important and used by the big public.  Many researchers, Internet developers, and educators have come out with another way to instruct and educate: the online courses or distance education.  However, many observers worry about whether the online courses fit their initial purpose.  Let’s make an analysis of some facts and courses to really evaluate the importance of distance education.

As I already mentioned, the growth of access to computers and the Internet has offered many people more learning and instructional possibility for distance education According to Rodney L. Everhart, president of SCI education solutions and former president of Lexis-Nexis Information services, in the next decade, “ the number of learning hours will double due to the growing number of adult learners.”

As a matter of fact, today many institutes of technology, such as the Institute of Communication of Oregon (ICO) and Technology and Telecommunication institute (TTI) offer an online course option to professional adults.  However, even though they both use online education, they proceed differently.

The TTI has multimedia delivery access available to allow students and instructors access to the Internet.  Sometimes, there is the interactivity between instructors and students; other times, there is not.  That means the physical contact or meeting in a classroom is not necessary all the time.  However, instructors and students can meet in a chat room.  The ICO offers a more virtual contact and relation.  The professor can be seen on the screen talking to the students.  But, in contrast to the physical face-to-face classroom, if a student doesn’t understand something, he or she cannot stop the professor to ask questions.  They have to wait for a specific time to do so.  Also homework, quizzes, tests and exams are given online. 

In accord with the paper entitled “The Impact of Information Technology on Education in 21st Century,” as many more courses move from the regular type of classroom to the virtual one via the Internet, students now have to take these courses with a more serious and good sense of responsibility for their personal learning.  At this point, they become independent learners; therefore they should be able to think and figure things out for themselves.

Computer technology today has wide usage in education.  Therefore, in online courses there are basic advantages and disadvantages.  First, these courses are more convenient. The information that they provide is obtained much faster, and people save a lot of time by not traveling to the classes while the traffic is terrible.  Those students save money on gas and car maintenance.  The education on the Internet helps foreign students through distance education.  Students don’t need to travel from country to country to get an education with online courses.  However, the disadvantages are that there is no privacy on the Internet; especially in the chat room people can meet any kind of person. Sometimes in the online course student can have an interrupted connection, and then the students can lose some information about their courses.

Finally, the use of online courses is the only courses in a distance education programs.  The Internet, online courses, sources of information help most people to solve many problems they face.  Computers make people’s lives much more colorful and convenient.  Therefore, we are not totally clear on how distance education will be in one or two more decades.

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Haseeb Razaq
ESL 91
Fall, 2001

ESSAY TOPIC: Explain the role of Charles Babbage in the development of the modern computer.

Many people have played an important role in the development of the modern computers.  All of them have worked on it in their own individual way.  Some have been successful and even the ideas of those who weren’t still help us today to build new and better technology and instruments.  One of them, a hard thinker, was Charles Babbage. 

Charles Babbage was born on December 26, 1791, in Teignmouth Devonshire, U.K. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge, when he was nineteen and received his MA in 1817.  Babbage was an amazing intellect.  He was an aesthete but not a Victorian one.  He found beauty in things.  For example, he saw beauty in stamped buttons, railways and tunnels.  He loved to take mechanical things apart and did little else with his toys besides dissecting them.  Babbage thought that his teachers didn’t know as much about calculus as he did, and his assumption was correct (because they were never able to answer his questions).  He woke up at 3:00 a.m. and studied in the library until 5:30.  His passion was for mathematics.  Babbage’s greatest achievement was his plans for calculating engines.

When Babbage started collecting calculating machines, he wanted to invent some himself.  He was looking for a machine, which would not cause any problems so that there would be no human error.  Babbage’s first calculating machine was the Difference Engine.  The Difference Engine was a machine in which you would just put numbers and it would give you the correct answer.  It created tables of values by finding the difference between terms in sequences.  The idea was that tables could be printed out neatly.  It was also wonderful for creating accurate tables of star position at certain dates (for the use of astronomers and sailors).  The pattern of this machine didn’t make any mistake or miscopy.  Babbage’s real model was never completed because he couldn’t stick with a single blueprint for it.  He always thought of ways to improve it, involve new parts, ripping old parts out and spending a great deal of money.  He never found this kind of a machine and neither was he successful in creating or designing one because the government never supported his work and he was disappointed and upset about it. 

Babbage’s second attempt was at creating an adding machine, called the Analytical Engine.  The Analytical Engine led to our modern computer.  It was meant to carry out work perfectly and spare human efforts and mistakes.  It was also intended to use loops of punched cards to control an automatic calculator, which could make decisions based on the results of previous computations. 

Babbage needed financial backing to complete the building of the Analytical Engine, but he required a more understandable presentation.  Ada Byron, was a Victorian lady with a love for mathematics.  Her passion with Babbage’s Analytical machine began early and lasted until her unfortunate death while she was in her mid-thirties.  Ada fully understood Babbage’s vision and helped him the last ten years to his death.  She helped Babbage work on the Analytical Engine.  She was known as being the first computer programmer.  Without creative thinkers like Ada and Babbage, computer graphics would have been the most difficult technology to work with.  The Analytical Engine led to the computer because it had the basic components of a modern computer. 

Eventually, Babbage’s ideas helped create calculators and computers, which are considered the first tools of the modern era. Babbage wanted to make the world an easy one.  He wanted to open doors of understanding and make things easier for people.  He wanted people to focus on applications of mathematics like he did.  Babbage, a mathematician also helped make the postal system in England.  He also invented speed meter and cowcatcher for trains.

Charles Babbage always thought that having errors was bad because ships could get lost, governments could lose money and people would get the wrong answers to their questions.  Babbage’s ideas met a bright future, bounding from one field to study to another and from one corner of the world to the next.  Whenever he wanted to do something, he always thought these questions:  “If we want this result, how can we get this result?”  Even though Babbage wanted to make the world easier and better, by creating wonderful machines, he wasn’t able to finish his invention and died in London in 1817. 

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