I.T. Times
Volume 2. No 3 Information Technology News of the University of California, Davis Spring 1994

Faculty Put the Network to Work

by Catherine Curran, Planning, Strategy & Administration

It was just about a year-and-a-half ago that Arthur Huntley, M.D., first used his computer to explore the Internet.

Since then he has added a course on how to use the Internet to the medical school curriculum. He also is using Mosaic to develop a multimedia program that can be used as an alternate method of instruction in Dermatology. Once the multimedia program is finished, Huntley plans to use members of the Davis Community Network as a test market for a lay person's version.

"As I became acquainted with the power of Melvyl Medline searches, I was convinced that it was an indispensable part of medical practice today," states Huntley, an associate professor of Dermatology and chair of the School of Medicine Committee on Educational Policy.

The medical course on how to use the Internet is given totally online with assignments and responses exchanged by electronic mail. Huntley says response to the course can be summed up by one student's comment: "I hated having to learn it. Thank you very much. I really enjoy using it."

Eventually, Huntley would like the School of Medicine to use computing and the network for most interactions with students that are currently done on paper.

"I would like to see as much resource material as possible placed on Gopher," he says.

Huntley thinks Network 21 will benefit anyone transferring large files and will "provide something better than our current modem connection for the Dermatology offices on campus."

Huntley is one of many UC Davis faculty who use networking in teaching and research. Here is a brief look at how others see the network at work:

School of Veterinary Medicine

Network training is mandatory for new students at the School of Veterinary Medicine. Faculty have developed many multimedia programs to teach everything from radiology to osteology. Dean George Cardinet says the School's goal is to develop a distributed computing environment in which programs can be accessed from classrooms and computer centers throughout the School. Network 21 will facilitate transfer of image files between buildings.

Writers Refine Research Skills

Kathy Dixon has noticed that both skills and attitudes are changing in the "electronic" composition classes she teaches as adjuncts paired with classes taught by Geoffrey Wandesforde-Smith (EST 10, EST 161, POL 122). Dixon said that several years ago some students would enroll in the classes begrudgingly because of the requirement to use electronic resources; this year several students stated they are taking the classes because of the electronic component.

Dixon's students do some of their classwork through e-mail and conduct research using electronic databases and the Internet. The excitement of learning new research methods and being able to access current information has prompted students to abandon the research-it-in-a-day term paper and instead make research a quarter- long process. This, in turn, has given writing a new twist. As one student wrote:

"I gained an immense amount of self confidence in myself, in my writing, researching and, most importantly, in academics. I felt professional while writing the EST 10 paper... I felt as if I finally found a place in this university."

Joy of Networking

The phones in the front office of the Computer Science department don't ring as much as they used to. The department has posted its graduate brochure, class notes, and other student information on the network. Since then, students have been calling up databases rather than administrative personnel.

"Students are very comfortable researching and communicating on computer," says Ken Joy, an associate professor of Computer Science. Joy, who has been using electronic mail since 1983, believes it is the access to information that makes Network 21 so important.

He says the Computer Science curriculum is constantly changing because the network has increased what students can find out. That same access to information is speeding the development of new programs because programmers can modify existing "prepackaged" programs rather than create something from scratch. And from a personal standpoint, Joy says he doesn't have to go to the library as much anymore.

"The work of most other researchers in my field is at my fingertips," he says.

Insect Museum Online

Lynn S. Kimsey sees Network 21 as an opportunity for the Entomology department to put an insect museum online. Kimsey, an associate professor, envisions that the "museum" will integrate full-color images and text. Each exhibit will be interactive and fully transportable to desktops here and abroad...once Network 21 is in place.

International Language Lab

Robert Blake says Network 21 could give the language lab in Olson Hall an international flavor. Blake, an associate professor in Spanish and Classics, has applied for a grant which will fund network access for the language lab. He says network access will benefit students by enabling them to correspond with people in other countries and gain access to international works.