Using webct with an off-campus diagnostic ultrasound course
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Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, offers a Graduate Diploma in Medical Ultrasound by off-campus distance learning (DL). These DL students are required to study under significantly different circumstances than on-campus students. They miss the social and educational advantages of mixing with both their fellow students and their lecturers and tutors. In an attempt to compensate for this lack of personal interaction the academic staff involved in conducting DL courses need to find ways to encourage other forms of effective and efficient communication. In this paper we will describe the manner in which communication with these DL students is maintained, specifically in one subject in this Graduate Diploma, SON4000: Physics of Medical Ultrasound and Instrumentation. A decision was made early in 2003 to use WebCT to enhance lecturer-student and studentstudent communication and provide additional support to the students. We briefly describe the particular WebCT tools that we have specifically chosen to support SON4000. We discuss the initial cost to staff in setting WebCT up for a subject like SON4000, the perceived long term benefits to the teaching staff, and most importantly, the reactions and responses of the students in accessing the WebCT site and contributing to the various communication options. A summary of the WebCT student-tracking data and the use of the mid-semester evaluation survey is presented.