Professor Mark Shields Teaches Turkish Students About Technology
And Human Development From Charlottesville Classroom
9, 2000 -- The students look expectantly at the professor.
The professor smiles and begins to speak. It's a sunny Saturday
morning in late winter. It could be a classroom anywhere in the
fact, the professor is Mark Shields, an assistant professor of technology,
culture and communications at the University of Virginia's School
of Engineering and Applied Science. The class, taught from a
classroom in the University's high-tech Zehmer Hall in Charlottesville,
is "Technology and Human Development," U.Va.'s first international
distance-learning course. The students are engineering students
in a lecture hall at Istanbul Technical University in Turkey.
breaking new ground with this program," said Sondra Stallard,
dean of the School of Continuing
and Professional Studies. "We have offered programs internationally
for a number of years -- in England, Singapore and Germany, and
at the International Law Enforcement Academy run by the FBI in Budapest,
Hungary. Next year, we'll offer a seminar on Thomas Jefferson in
Paris. But this is our first foray into offering an international
course that's both for-credit and distance-learning. We look forward
to expanding our portfolio of programs that originate on Grounds
and go international."
the past decade, the University of Virginia's Division of Continuing
Education, recently renamed the School of Continuing and Professional
Studies, has offered a number of online distance-learning courses.
Many of them enable the University's Engineering School to
serve the ravenous appetite for quality educational offerings in
part of its Virginia 2020: Agenda for the Third Century initiative,
the University is seeking to strengthen its international presence,
while expanding its involvement with traditional faculty and student
exchange programs, international conferences, and recruitment of
class is an example of that initiative. It marks the first time
the University has arranged with an institution of higher learning
abroad to offer a class for full course credit via teleconferencing
and the Internet. The course is an elective for undergraduates in
U.Va.'s Engineering School.
project has been four years in the making and wouldn't have
been possible without the involvement of Mine Kalkan, an associate
professor and director of the Center For Distance Learning at Istanbul
Technical University, said John Payne, director of educational technologies.
her efforts to get academic approval of the project through ITU's
faculty senate and diligent work with the folks at Turkish Telecom,
Vtel Corporation and many, many others, this project would never
have gotten off the ground," he said.
course seeks to introduce students to concepts of human development,
in particular, the interaction of technology and quality of life.
Through team projects, students learn to analyze complex systems
and gain an understanding of the strengths and shortcomings of technology's
ability to enhance human capabilities and quality of life. Past
projects have examined the industrialization of the Amazon River
Valley, rural electrification in Latin America, campaigns to control
infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Three Gorges
Dam project in China.
class helps engineering students think about the human costs and
environmental consequences, many of them unintended, of technological
development," Shields said.
lectures from a control center at a desk in Zehmer Hall. On the
far wall in front of him are two TV screens. One shows the classroom
in Istanbul, so Shields can look at the students while he lectures
and they can see him looking at them. Shields controls the second
screen with a notepad at his fingertips. He can offer a wide view
or a close-up of himself speaking, or shift to an overhead viewer
where he can place printouts of his lecture notes. He also can connect
his laptop computer to the control pad and transmit a Power Point
presentation, or pull images directly off the Internet, or connect
a VCR and show videotapes.
him are three more TV screens for display to a live audience in
case Shields wants to lecture to students in the classroom in Charlottesville
at the same time that he transmits his class to Istanbul.
classroom is a new concept for U.Va. because it no longer requires
two people, the professor to lecture and a producer to direct the
camera and other classroom devices," Payne said. "With
this setup and a little practice, the professor can direct the action
addition to watching the classes and asking questions via a two-way
teleconferencing audiovisual connection, students may visit the
course web site to view the professor's notes, syllabus, and
reserved readings. They also will hand in course papers and tests
by email. Shields plans to travel to Istanbul to hear their final
project presentations in person at the end of the semester.
class was the brainchild of Adil Ozkaptan, 84, who immigrated to
the United States from Turkey more than 50 years ago. He led a successful
career in the movie industry in California and continues to maintain
close ties to Turkey. He has looked for ways to give back to the
country of his birth and sees this project as a test run of technologies
that may bring new educational opportunities to rural areas of Turkey.
the Zehmer Hall classroom bursts with state-of-the-art technology
and high-speed telecommunications connections, sometimes basic technological
problems, such as telephone connections, throw a wrench in the works.
A recent power outage in Turkey denied the needed connection and
led Payne and Shields to return to the classroom on Saturday morning
(Saturday afternoon, Istanbul time, a seven-hour difference) to
expect to have problems when you do things for the first time,"
Payne said. "Our goal is to work out the kinks and open the
way for others. This is definitely the wave of the future."
more information about the technical aspects of U.Va.'s distance-education
class in Turkey, contact John Payne at (804) 982-5344, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the curriculum, contact Mark Shields
at (804) 924-3234, or at email@example.com.
Charlotte Crystal, (804) 924-6858