Humanities 2F03

McMaster University, Department of Humanities • 2003

McMas­ter University’s first fully online course came with a chal­lenge by then Dean Howard Jones. The depart­ment of Human­i­ties was gear­ing up for a new Media lab, and the start of a new decade of online instruc­tion. Since my par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Medieval Women project, I had found a voice in the depart­ment, and it was not long after this project that I was con­sulted on the pur­chase of equip­ment for the cur­rent Mul­ti­Me­dia lab in Togo Salmon Hall. But it took a lot of research and a care­ful exam­i­na­tion of the results for my voice to be heard. I now use this method­ol­ogy for tech­nol­ogy assess­ments with clients and in my teach­ing prac­tice, and I am grate­ful to the depart­ment for giv­ing me so much auton­omy in the inves­ti­ga­tion of the deploy­ment of courses using WebCT. Tak­ing just sta­tis­tics in to con­sid­er­a­tion, I knew at that time that web stan­dards would be chang­ing, band­widths increas­ing, and that there were many obsta­cles in the way of deploy­ing a true vir­tual class­room’. But, con­sid­er­ing some of the tech­ni­cal chal­lenges I helped over­come at that time, and the direc­tion we intended to go with tech­nol­ogy, I know it isn’t far off. In 2003 I deployed a down­load-free web con­fer­enc­ing sys­tem, pow­ered by an open source server run­ning from my Pen­tium 3 com­puter at home as an emer­gency mea­sure to provide live con­fer­enc­ing for 2F03. The Sil­i­con Graph­ics stream­ing server pur­chased by the Depart­ment of Human­i­ties for about the cost of a car was over­heat­ing, and a Web Broad­cast was crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of the course. I real­ize now, that tech­nol­ogy is still catch­ing up. Human­i­ties 2F03 had a low cost, full-screen, nearly lag free sys­tem embed­ded in the browser, much like you might find today. It truly was ahead of the curve. Unfor­tu­nately, with chang­ing staff, and chang­ing bud­gets, Human­i­ties 2F03 was not renewed in the same form the next year. Our research was never used, and the report got lost in the shuf­fle.

Humanities 2F03: Body and Soul, Pleasure and Pain in the Later Middle Ages

 

Position:

Research Assis­tant

Duration:

12 weeks, full time

Details:

As research assis­tant to pri­mary inves­ti­ga­tors Dr. Kath­leen Garay and Dr. Madeleine Jeay, I was tasked with research­ing stu­dent responses and sat­is­fac­tion lev­els through­out the course through tar­geted sur­veys, and to man­age quick imple­men­ta­tion of any tech­ni­cal and usabil­ity repairs or improve­ments based on their feed­back. Pri­mary devel­op­ment was accom­plished by a stu­dent tech­ni­cian. With my pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence on Medieval Women, I was happy to offer my assis­tance in web design, Flash seg­ment design, and other tech­ni­cal chal­lenges that the team faced deliv­er­ing the WebCT based course. Fol­low­ing the ses­sion, I deliv­ered a writ­ten report sum­ma­riz­ing the find­ings of 21 sur­veys.

McMas­ter Uni­ver­sity, Depart­ment of Human­i­ties

Reflection