One model that will both allow individuals an alternative to the traditional ways of making scholarship and to the traditional ways of teaching is the virtual department, a complement to the actual or physical department, but characterized in vastly different ways.
At the University of Illinois at Chicago, such a department exists - it is called "e-works."
James Sosnoski has described this virtual department in the following terms:
E-Works is an online environment under construction on Tigger [a UNIX machine] at UIC which features the work of members of the English Department. At first glance E-Works appears to be a web site. However, it is not intended to be a conventional site on the World Wide Web. Rather, HTML code is used to create a FRAME that provides graphical boundaries within which other softwares are embedded--for example: listservs, bulletin boards, newsgroups, collaborative writing tools, and MOOs--for use in the online work of the English department. E-Works has three primary functions. The first is to be an online site for obtaining information about the English department, its various programs and projects. In this respect, E-Works functions as other web-sites do--as a locus of information that can be accessed world wide. Second, E-Works publishes the work of the faculty and students of the English department and its adjunct programs. In this respect, it is not only a readable hypertext but also a reference database. For example, one of its the features is a glossary of terms used in literary and rhetorical studies. Third, E-Works is a place FOR work. In this respect, it is a central agency for ongoing work in various courses offered by the English department. For example, the collaborative tele-seminars taught in the department are housed in E-Works. This means that syllabi, "lectures" (texts of the teachers explanations and instructions), student and faculty research is entered into E-Works by cooperating faculty and students. In sum, E-Works is intended to be a virtual English department that provides an online complement to the activities of the actual English department.
We hope eventually to house E-Works in Scailab, the English Departments computer facility.
[NOTE: the name, E-Works, is intended to suggest "English department Work." The word, "Work," is plural to suggest the multiplicity and variety of the work done in the department.]
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Last Modified: August 2, 1996
Copyright © 1996 by Keith Dorwick