North American Web Developers Conference (NAWEB 96)
October 4 to 8, 1996, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada The NAWEB 96 conference was the second hosted by Rick Hall and the WWWDEV, the Web Course Developers group, a discussion list of some 1,000+ people. I was privileged (?) to be the program chair for NAWEB 95 and was asked to repeat the job for NAWEB 96. The conference page can be found at: http://www.unb.ca/web/wwwdev/naweb96
Kurt Schmucker from Apple's Advanced Research Group--more on that later!
Jim Miller from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C--you know, at MIT where Tim Berners-Lee works now!)
After the opening addresses from the deputy minister of the province, the vice pres. of the university, a city councilman, and sundry others (at UNB they get everybody involved) there were the NAWEB awards. These awards for "best pages" were nominated by the members of the list and voted on by the attendees.
Highlight: well they were all good story tellers but my fav moment was the exchanging of the flags. Co-chair Allan Ellis, from Australia, has chaired the AUSWeb conference for the last two years. He has also just snagged the 1998 6th International WWW Conference (Wes and I went to the 2nd in Chicago in '94) and will be doing AUSWeb 97.
The regular sessions began on Monday and the full papers are available online. The papers ranged from courses that are web-enhanced to full-blown distance ed courses delivered totally by web. K-12, higher ed and even business training groups were represented, from high tech to low tech.
Highlights: Kurt Schmucker from Apple ARG labs and his demo of Cocoa. Billed as a "problem-solving and non-verbal programming tool," Cocoa will be known to kids as that great program that let's you make games for the web. Cocoa lets you create worlds, solve problems, create simulations and generally learn programming skills without having to learn syntax, or even, without using any words at all. It's aimed at 8-14 year olds but its use, I predict, will be much broader than that. It will be out by the end of the year and available from an Apple web site that is as yet undisclosed (but if you go to cocoa.apple.com you'll see that there is indeed a server by that name, just not populated yet!).
Some conclusions: quite a few organizations have jumped into class support or class delivery over the web. As is to be expected, in many cases this has had little effect on what constitutes a course, what is our conception of the university, and what an instructors role is. But as people develop these courses some are beginning to realise several things: