ESL 91 SPRING, 2001

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Lianhuan 2

Lianhuan He
ESL 91
Spring, 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, knowledge and information are growing at unprecedented speeds. In the sea of knowledge and information, we will consider that learning is endless. To keep up with the progress of knowledge and information, students may feel that their knowledge is not enough when they graduate from college. What they learn from college or school just is a little part of lifelong learning. Therefore people have to look for different ways to continue to study. Fortunately, we have the Internet, which impacts the 21st century’s education to help us swim in the sea of information. More and more learners are enhancing their education by choosing online courses, which are provided by some professional people and colleges.

The Internet can overcome the space-time limit that traditional on-campus study can’t. That means it gives the people who can’t take classes on campus a chance to improve their knowledge. According to the New York Times 03/21/01, online education appeals to adult learners who want to take classes, but have to go to work during the day. With online education, they are able to take classes after work at home. The flexibility gives them a chance to gain more knowledge and also brings them convenience. It is also convenient for some people who can’t travel to the campus to study. For example, people can take the courses that they like from other cities or other countries. Online study is also good for people with disabilities.

The Internet gives a hand to instructors, including teachers and parents. For example, the web site provides an online course called Discovery School’s Webmath to help students solve their particular mathematics problems. It designs four steps. In the first step, you can choose one topic from all of the math subjects. The second step is to select your problem type (such as derivatives). Then you enter a specific mathematic homework problem, and then with a click of the mouse, the homework problem is worked out and each step is explained. The whole procedure is very easy to use. The students only need to click the input boxes to choose their specific problem to solve. Because students can choose their specific problem to solve by themselves, it can save the teachers’ and students’ time.

Moreover now more and more teachers build their personal web pages to help them assist to students, and many teachers conduct their classes with live Internet access. For example, is designed by Professor Kasper, who teaches ESL 91 in Kingsborough Community College. It provides online libraries and media resources that can be used during class to enliven, illustrate and expand lectures and discussions, or those web resources might be assigned as research for a particular topic. In addition, if a student misses a class, she/he can access the course web site and obtain the class handouts, notes and assignments. Some online courses also use Internet chat-rooms to provide real-time online interaction for individuals at any given moment. Chat is like a phone conversation, except for the fact that the interaction takes place through typing, not voice.

Online courses offer diverse subjects, for example, the online courses of the Barnes and Noble University, offer not only the academic knowledge, but also art, entertainment, health. Some online courses may help people resolve the problems from daily life; for example: how to help your children get away from drugs; how to improve the life skills; how to cook; how to plant; how to manage your finances, and so on. People can choose the subjects in which they are interested to learn more general knowledge. Children can choose music or history to study. As a result, children can learn different disciplines outside of the classroom, and not be limited to only the school’s disciplines. That also can help cultivate a whole child, one who has knowledge of different disciplines.

Online courses have some advantages that traditional on-campus courses haven’t: Students can keep up with course materials during travel, without having to carry them around. It is easy to share courses materials with others, just by giving them a web address and decreasing copy costs. Students do not have to worry about lost course materials. They use a password so that only authorized people may actually see the materials.

One of the major reasons that the web can be used in public education is because taking online courses does not need professional Internet skills. We just need to use a web browser to access materials and resources, including libraries, trade magazines, newspapers, radio, and TV broadcast that are usually for free. We can type messages to interact in chat-rooms. The procedure only requires us to point, click, and fill in the blanks.

Using the web to extend and support classrooms is a good tool for instructors and learners. It help students focus on the subject that they are interested in studying or focus on the specific problem that they have to solve. The convenience and specification make learning effective, and the classroom is not the only place to learn. Distance education will be a good way for lifelong learning, for improving technology skills and the skills in other fields. It helps adults to keep up with the progress of economy and technology. Using the Internet is a major way to receive new information and new technology. The Internet will strongly push the development of education.

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Lianhuan He
ESL 91
Spring, 2001

Essay Topic: Go to the pages Unsung Heroes of Computing: 5 Visionaries Who Changed the Face of Technology and 10 Visionaries of the 1990's. Choose ONE of these visionaries and do an in-depth exploration of how that person changed the face of technology.


When computers are used everywhere all over the world, the benefits that people gain from computers are immense. The history of the computer’s development depends on a group of heroes of computing. One of them is Vannevar Bush, who was called the father of the modern computer.

In today’s information age, you can receive information from the Internet whenever you want and look for the information by just sitting in front of a computer. This convenience may let you thank the person who brought up this idea. This contribution belongs to Bush. He had this idea a half century ago. He is very important to us in today’s computer.

Why was Bush able to create this idea? Let’s look at his experience. Bush’s shining moment was during the Second World War, which was a period of enormous technological development. At that time Bush served as science advisor to President Roosevelt, and had to “wade through a glut of highly technical information,” and deal with enormous amounts of information.  (Endless Frontier, by G Pascal Zachary page 169). Unlike the other people who complained that there was too much information to deal with, Bush tried to think about what kind of technology or machine could help people get away from the grueling work. He imagined a future machine called the “memex”. The memex is “a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. A memex resembled a desk with two pen-ready touch screen monitors and a scanner surface.” Vannevar Bush imagined that there was storage space in the memex to fill with textual and graphic information, which could be indexed, retrieved and updated regularly. In his essay, “As We May Think”, he described how to build a path to link two pieces of information. This is a powerful theory that is the foundation of today’s Internet.

Time makes the hero. The second World War was an period in which information and technology developed very fast. It demanded that people kept up with its steps of development. During the war, it was very necessary for people to record knowledge, collect information and communicate across long distances. When most people complained about too much information to deal with, Bush offered his idea to give a generation of inventors a target to shoot at. Even though his memex hadn’t been built because of the crude technology of time, his idea was the seed of today’s Internet, and later pioneers in computing considered Bush’s memex  a forerunner to their own machines. If Bush hadn’t lived in at a time when information was beginning to develop very fast, the idea for memex wouldn’t have been created.

Bush’s vision was breathtaking. He predicted that humans could interact with machines by programming, and this is the most important thing for data and information processing. In reality, we can use programs to interact with the computer to process data now. So even though Bush didn’t invent the personal computer, he did make a great contribution to the its concept. He also predicted that amounts of information could be stored on a microfilm. Today, the Encyclopedia Brittanice actually could be stored on a microfilm, the size of a matchbook. We have to admire Bush’s vision. From Bush’s memex to hypermedia (“computers connected to the Internet deliver information using a variety of computer media, including text, graphics sound, video clips and animation. On the Internet, this multimedia capability is called hypermedia, which is any variety of computer media” (Windows 98 by Shelly Cashman Forsythe Page 1.28), and ultimately, to the World Wide Web, So when today’s Internet comes out, we don’t feel surprised because people had known this idea before. Bush told us what the future should be like and what the future could be like. That is why we vote for Bush as a father of today’s computer.

Why was Bush able to think earlier than the others? I think because he could consider the people’s need according to the society’s development. Bush felt uneasy about the future in the hands of scientists without a purpose. Bush called himself an engineer. But what is a real engineer? In his book, SCIENCE IS NOT ENOUGH (page 1) he said, “engineer is not only in making things work but in making them work for the betterment of mankind.” That’s a great word. I think it told us how the invention was created. He could put the quality of human life first and use his knowledge to improve it. That was his motive and purpose. Bush brought up the memex idea because he wanted to resolve the problem that people suffer from too much information and help people to remove the drudgery from human thinking.

Bush was called the father of the modern computer not only because his intelligence and vision was worth admiring, but also because of his thoughtful thinking about people’s lives. He is really a model scientist.

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XiaoGuang Jiang
ESL 91
Spring, 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."

Technology is exploding, and education is exploding with the same speed because of expanding technology and user’s huge demand.  Education has moved from the physical classrooms and extends to the Internet in the 21st century.  Online education gives people the ways to learn or improve their skill without leaving home.

The student population is changing and the technology is changing fast in the world.  Many businesses or companies need the officers to have new skills for their jobs.  For this reason, many adults go back to school to learn or expand the skill that they have already.  The online courses are the best way for them; because the online courses give people lower costs and more subjects to choose for the students.  Students can have a direct, easy and fast way to improve their own skill.

I found the online courses from the web This web site is by Barnes and Noble University.  I chose two courses, a Technology course and a Design course.   The first online course is “Building Your First Web Page”. The course web page lists a lot of information about the course’s introduction.  This course started on April 10, 2001 and lasted for four weeks and three days. The teacher is Natanya Pitts.  Ms. Pitts is a writer and trainer.  She has taught classes on HTML, Dynamic and XML at several national conferences.  The page also has a description about the course that is helping you to build your first web page.  Ms. Pitts will teach every student many techniques about how to build a web page by using HTML, and then how to post that page on a web site for the entire world to see.  The course lessons give students the basic tools that they need to build and post a web page.  The course goes step by step from finding the right tools to building the page and working with graphics and creating a good-looking page. The objectives for the course are to use HTML tags in text and graphics on the web page, to create hyperlinks, display content in lists and publish it on the web.  In addition, the course gives a link for students to download the Flash animation for this course.  (The Flash animation is a short movie that shows how to use the tools to build up the web page.) The course is free, but it requires buying three textbooks by mail.  These books are necessary for the course.

Another course is “Designing One’s Own Garden”.  The teacher is Becke Davis.  She is author of five gardening books and nearly a thousand articles, both for the gardening public and for the landscape trade. The course started on April 9, 2001; students need to have five weeks and four days to finish this course.  The course will teach you how to create a beautiful garden design.  Students will learn the basics of design, which is the natural next step for those who have already obtained some working knowledge of garden plants.  They will also learn how to create a design using plants that will adapt best to their places.  The objectives of the course are to teach students the difference between planting flowers and designing a garden for four seasons of favorite.  Also, Ms. Davis will teach students which plants are better to serve as background of the seasons, for example; cherry blossoms are used for spring season.  The course is also free, but students must to buy three books online for this course.

I picked these two online courses that came from the site of Barnes and Noble University, but I dropped both of them because the textbooks are expensive.   The web site pages are good; there are no dead links and a lot of information.  They are updated.  They help people to increase their skill, but not to get a degree.  The teachers of both courses seem qualified.  They mention the start date of the course, but they do not mention that how long for one class.   The objectives are clear and seem easy because both of them will teach the basic knowledge of the technology.  But the defect is the courses are for the technique, not for degree.  So, these two pages don’t fit some people who want to get a degree. The courses are free, so they might not teach more professional and deep knowledge to the students.

In my opinion, I think these two online courses are still good classes to join because the courses are good for as a hobby for people interested in creating web page and garden design. The site really mentions a lot of the information for the courses, and they list what they will teach and what the student will gain from these two courses.  Also, these courses are free, except students have to buy the books.  Even though these two classes just teach skills, but do not lead to a degree, they are still interesting. 

The online courses are becoming popular and they really help people to gain more knowledge and upgrade their skills.  Even though these online courses on Barnes and Noble University have some advantages and some disadvantages, they are still good sites for people to visit.

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