Project Jigsaw:
Learning using the Web

  1. The Web presents excellent opportunities for scholarly, detailed and satisfying presentations of materials to numbers of students large or small, on one campus or across the world;
  2. The disadvantages of the Web - boilerplating without understanding; assimilating poor-quality materials; frustration - can also be found in library use; for the same skills are required to manage either - namely discrimination, care and scepticism;
  3. For "visual" subjects such as Art History, where the Gesamtkunstwerk is important, a full suite of images together with VRML modelling is a learning boon, especially for those students who have not visited the monuments in\question;
  4. How does video compare? Video is occasionally an improvement on still photography, because it offers more appreciation of the third dimension; but it is difficult to handle over the web, and especially difficult to stop, retrace, or zoom with any good effect;
  5. VRML, on the other hand, givesd the user much better control over the manipulation of the model: as well as automatic tours, we can offer tours where the user does the guiding. The tour can be stopped to examine a relief in close up or at a distance; and the tour around the monument restarted, at whatever distance from the reliefs the user wishes.

Notes on the Australian National University's
Strategies for using the Web

  1. Part of the mission of the Faculty of Arts at the Australian National University is develop ways of using the latest technology as an aid in teaching and learning ... range of methods for interactive learning (Strategic Plan II, 125-7). The same document notes the same requirement for the ANU as a whole (ibid., 273), and emphasizes (274) the role of electronic publishing. Again, The ArtServe W3 server has won international acclaim for making thousands of images available across the Internet and for pioneering the delivery of visual learning material to students (ibid., 122). In addition, we aim to produce a virtual tour of the ANU campus to aid ANU's current Web publicity drive, in order to attract new students.

  2. This direction is confirmed by the ANU's Strategic Plan 1998-2004, underlined by the Information Technology section of this Plan, and elaborated upon in the Strategic Issues Discussion Paper of 12 June 1998 where, under IT, we read that The ANU has been a leader in utilising and adapting IT to enhance its research, teaching and administrative functions. The University was an early adopter of the WWW as an electronic publishing platform and a number of groups within the University have achieved an international reputation based on the quality of their web publishing. The ANU will enhance its national role by building on its achievements as an essential node in this new academic network.

  3. In learning specifically, this will include targetting learning: Among the highest priority academic objectives for information technology developments is to create on-campus student learning environments as part of the foundations for future flexible delivery of courses. Such environments will facilitate students' access to course materials and the international information sources to further extend their intellectual horizons.
  4. Project Jigsaw, with its inventive explorations of high-quality web-based VRML modelling in disciplines from Botany and Forestry to Art History, should make a significant contribution to the ANU's strategy.