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INTERACTIVE WEB-BASED LEARNING

Jusuf Šehanović
Faculty of Economics and Tourism “Dr. Mijo Mirković”, Pula, University of Rijeka,
e-mail: Jusuf.Sehanovic@iptpo.hr

Elena Krelja-Kurelović
High school of Juraj Dobrila, Pazin, e-mail: ekrelja@gssjd.hr

Modern information and communication technologies (ICT) influence all aspects of human life,
education as well. Internet ensures that information becomes available at any moment and almost to
everybody which causes changes in teaching methods, subject selection and presentation, the ways
of learning etc. Teacher's main task is to adapt the teaching to the changes that ICT has brought.
Therefore the main purpose of this article is to present some aspects of using Internet technologies in
the educational process. Through the illustration of the interactive web-based exercises created by the
use of the Hot Potatoes program, we want to show how it can be applied in educational purposes.

1. INTRODUCTION

Information and communication technologies (ICT) have added new meaning to teaching and learning.
They have become a very efficient teaching tool for informational distribution aimed at a specific
educational goal. ICT help teachers to keep pace with rapid and constant change of information, to
meet student’s bigger and bigger expectations and to improve learning and teaching process.
Since the introduction, Internet has influenced the educational model significantly. The use of Internet
tools and abilities offers exceptional possibilities for the improvement and supplementation of the
educational process in a traditional classroom. Internet has developed into a valuable searching
source, a source of interaction and expansion of teaching materials; it has also been used as a
platform for teaching, enabling the development of interactive and co-operative learning. The web
pages of different courses, discussion groups, the communication via modem and the online
educational model, influence the teaching process to a great deal in all disciplines and on all levels.
Students will learn new information easily if learning is funny, dynamic, and interactive and if it includes
different media, first of all a computer. This implies an offer of appropriate educational contents,
learning and exercising material published on the Internet. In this way, anybody can learn from his or
her own home, no matter what’s their age and we enable students to use their computers better at
home. Inasmuch we help them and prepare them for a lifelong, independent learning and self-
estimation.
The main purpose of this article is to present some aspects of using Internet technologies in the
educational process.
To accomplish this goal, we contemplate questions about the benefits of using the Internet in
education and the factors that influence the acceptance and use of these Internet tools. Through
illustration of interactive Web-based exercises created by the use of the Hot Potatoes program, we
want to show how it can be used in educational purposes.

2. THE BENEFITS OF USING THE INTERNET IN EDUCATION

Internet has become the biggest global communication network, which enables the access to people,
software, data, documents, graphics and audio and video files. Therefore, it is of great importance that
students, future members of the global market, get acquainted with the online informational resources
and the technological use of the Internet.
By applying ICT (Internet), teaching can be done practically anywhere and anytime. A great advantage
of the Internet teaching is a development of collaborating abilities (the creation of teams). Through
Internet, students have access to the sources of information mainly not available in libraries or out of
date. Internet means overcoming all informational barriers, that is, getting an insight into world
scientific information, a direct co-operation with the world-wide experts, in other words, learning in
accordance with the world standards.
In proportion to the needs of the future, regarding the former practice, new ICT (Internet) cause the
following processes in the educational process: constant development, result based learning,
individual testing, process based evaluation, creation of the individual learning plan, co-operative
learning, creation of learning centres, positioning of a teacher as a trainer, assistant, motivator;
acquisition of the solution problem skills and detection of meaning as well as communicative and
writing skills, application of advanced technologies such as tools 6.
The advantages of the Internet and computer technologies in the educational process are also evident
through:

 their ability of stimulation, student’s involvement and motivation,


 enabling teachers to adjust the educational material and content in accordance with individual
varieties such as location, time and people,
 surpassing the geographical and time barriers as well as conflict cases of overlapping
schedules,
 students can advance at the pace and convenience they wish,
 lesson attendance from anywhere and anytime according to a participant’s wish along with a
thorough methodology of content and lesson teaching,
 modes and courses that enable teachers to control and supervise students and their progress
as well,
 the opportunity for students to develop their e–abilities and gather valuable feedback for the
further exchange and development of the interactive educational material,
 the opportunity for teachers to use the Internet as an electronic saving site and a echanism of
giving and receiving constant feedback from and to students.
This is considered a basic means of constant improvement of the teaching process. Internet is
expected to offer a significant improvement in quality, information accessibility and relevance for
lecture preparation. It is necessary to mention that there are some frustrating experiences during the
online search of teaching material caused either by the lack or by problems in finding the material for
lesson preparation.

3. FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE THE ACCEPTANCE AND THE USE OF


INTERNET
Education as an activity contributes largely to the national economic development. It is considered a
means of achieving the national progress and prosperity, where the key roles belong to ICT and the
Internet. More and more people are in dilemma whether we need schools in the way we know them
today for education. Educational systems are more market orientated and Internet is one of the means
to achieve that end 4.
D. Koenig 5 points out that owing to new technologies all existing societies undergo a transformation.
It is important, Koenig says: “ that certain parts of informational content of new technologies are
included in the local base of knowledge, so that the application of these technologies meets the local
needs, resources, conditions and aspirations”. Therefore, while talking about interactive web
orientated learning exercises, more precisely the Internet education, we advocate a systematic
approach to that matter, where it is compelling to solve the crucial questions, namely: 1) informational
society guidelines, 2) educational system, 3) material basis of the educational institutions, 4)
curriculum processes, 5) technology and 6) organization of the educational institutions.
(1) Informational society is based upon: the establishment of high-quality relationships, the
development of high standards, knowledge, information as a resource, world criteria, network
organisation, work efficiency as a motif, co-operation (mutual dependence, integration).
(2) The crucial changes in education, brought by the modern information and communication
technologies are focused on the way of learning and applying of the learned material. Relevant
ministries must organise the educational system through institutions (primary, secondary, high schools
and universities) in such a way that ICT (Internet) are the linking point of all processes. It means the
introduction of the following changes: the modernisation of the educational aims; reorganisation of the
school network; depending on a school’s needs and level; more reasonable planning of the number of
students; reorganisation of a subject based education; reorganisation of a periodic, daily, weekly,
semestral and annual teaching process realisation (Internet “works” non-stop); reconsideration of the
evaluation of the students and teachers; more transparent and effective teachers` advancement;
rendering the laws, that the system is based upon, more modern, flexible and practical etc.
(3) Although not the only one, the way to a better educational results lies in the supply of the
necessary means which enable the schools to: purchase new ICT; build (adapt) adequate space;
make specialised cabinets; modernise the curriculum; purchase modern professional literature;
develop the publishing business, organise conferences; exchange students and teachers; a better
standard of students and their teachers etc.
(4) Curriculum creators must specify their fields and predict their educational value in the context of
actual needs. It means a switch from the realization of existing curriculums to mastering of multiple
subject fields. Curriculums must become more students orientated. They must provide students and
teachers with greater effectiveness and a greater control over the learning and teaching process.
Important elements in the creation of new curriculums should be the following: students` knowledge
production instead of the passive memorising of information, a partnership of students and teachers in
the learning process, team work, a possibility of applying different approaches to learning,
arrangement based curriculums, realistic and life important curriculums, adequate ways of evaluation
(Grey, 1999, p.421). Curriculums must enable the achievement of the planned educational aims and
give teachers and schools a scope for innovativeness.
The use of ICT (Internet) upgrades teachers` responsibility. There is information on the Internet that
somebody wishes to be found. Teachers` task is to indicate their relevance from the point of view of
the system, literature, knowledge, pragmatic point of view etc.
Teachers must be knowledge guiders and managers. In order to be that, they must master new
pedagogical and technological skills and learn how to use them in their teaching. Teachers must teach
about life. They have to abandon the practice of the frontal work with students and exercise the
individual way of work. If teachers continue to teach like machines, it can easily happen that the
machines will substitute them.
Students must acquire knowledge and skills that can be successfully used in unclear situations.
Therefore in the educational process a greater attention should be given to the recognition of skills and
abilities, demanded by certain subjects, instead of the subordination to the curriculum content. That’s
how teachers and students become effective participants in the educational process. According to
A.Grey 4, learning demands active creation based upon: understanding of the participants and the
educational process; it goes on in interesting surroundings; it is based on the educational partnership
in different situations; it is shaped by the social and cultural context in which it is carried out. The
successfulness of the educational process is measured by the ability of students and teachers to:
make a difference and provide key information; use their present knowledge in an effective way;
interpret and analyse information; substitute old with newly acquired skills; produce new knowledge
etc. Teacher still has a key role in conveying a message. Internet offers many advantages: up to date
information, variety, their faster and more effective gathering, regularly larger amount of information
etc. 7.
(5) People communicate over the Internet using personal computers and they do it in peace,
working atmosphere and in the comfort of their own homes. Appliances constantly improve and
computer technology is not a problem any more, nor it will be a dire strait. Communication
programmes and other program solutions are not to be worried about today 1. Although ICT should
be vastly used and largely introduced into the educational institutions, it has to be done systematically.
Otherwise it could bring about total chaos and the schooling system wouldn’t satisfy students` needs
in their preparation for the future.
(6) Successful introduction of ICT should be understood as a long-term strategic vision of the
schooling system. It includes a revision of curriculums, ways of learning and teaching, professional
training. Such a process should solve the fundamental questions, so that it enables teachers and
students to make use of ICT to the maximum extent. Organisational structure of the educational
institutions has to be synchronised with used ICT (Internet). According to the application of the Internet
tools resulted in two modifications of the lesson organisation: a) the use of the e-mail and
communication tools (chat, communication via modem, forum, etc.); b) the publication and search of
the teaching material in a digital form. Electronic discussion groups and chat rooms can expand the
classroom beyond the physical area of the educational institution. Surveys indicate that common
online learning platforms which support electronic discussion, offer a strong learning environment,
since they enable the members to exchange mutual experiences and collaboration while doing the
exercises. In such groups, it is most likely that students will experience a strong feeling of presence
and even a greater feeling of belonging to the community. Parallel with the reformation process of the
curriculums and the school reorganisation it is necessary to modernise the educational management
as well. Their activity has to be directed towards running by the use of aims of all school factors.

4. HOT POTATOES PROGRAM

A variety of Internet based teaching resources have been expanded lately. A lot of books dealing with
different topics have its web page on the Internet today, along with exercises, tasks, reading material
and links for further resources available to students. Besides, authors give their Internet pages to
readers; by using this media they can answer the questions, exchange their opinions and information
about teaching and spread new pedagogical ideas discussing suggestions about their pedagogical
application. Some Internet addresses contain pages and web addresses of exercises, lectures by
chapters, interactive preliminary exams, and student’s projects as examples, summarised lecture
plans and other material that can’t be found in the text. In this way web users can effortlessly have
instant access to these pages. While these articles, books and computerised resources present
exceptional basis, there is still space enough for additional contributions that more effectively link the
“highway” of information, its resources and tools for more efficient and better teaching. Therefore, a
total use of tools and Internet advantages results not only in the use of its automated and informational
aspects. Innovative Internet use can enable a complete transformation of educational experiences. In
that context, stood up for a new learning paradigm promoted by the Internet, resulting in new methods
of knowledge conveying, learning domains, learning processes and results as well as new educational
roles and units. Also claims that Internet stimulates reengineering and restructuring of the whole
educational process through important changes of the definition, structure and lectures.
However, texts, practical examples, homeworks, articles, innovative teaching forms etc. that use these
resources of information in an appropriate pedagogical context are still at the beginning. Furthermore,
it seems that information on real educational advantages and disadvantages are seldom exchanged.
The illustration of the interactive WEB based exercises created by the means of the Hot Potatoes
program is in favour of overcoming this state.
The Hot Potatoes program, produced by Half-Baked Software Inc., is free of charge for educational
institutions and a non-profit use. It was designed to allow teachers to make interactive, Web-based
exercises that can be accessed by students at any Internet-capable computer terminal with standard
Web browser. The ways of using of this program in education depends only on teacher's creativity. The
questions made to pupils during the lessons can be reformulated and made into a crossword, a
matching exercise or some other quiz exercise. Pupils through the Hot Potatoes exercises learn
certain topic in a different way, because their activity is required. After each answer, they get a
feedback about its correctness or they can get a clue, which will help them to find a correct answer.

Figure 1. The initial window of the Hot Potatoes program


The Hot Potatoes program offers six different types of exercises (Figure 1.) that are used as templates
to fill in the data, picture insertion, HTML tables or links required for creation of exercises.

4.1. Creation of exercises in the Hot Potatoes program


JBC allows creating multiple-choice questions with as many answers choices as we like and several
of them can be correct. For each answer teacher can customize feedback, so that students receive a
different message according to answer they choose (see Figure 2.) Percentage score is displayed
after each correct answer is chosen.

Figure 2. Making JBC type of exercise

JQuiz is used to create open-ended questions and students have to type answer in a text-filed.
Feedback shows which parts of student’s answer are correct. The student can ask for a hint if
necessary, and see the next correct letter in the answer.
JMix is for creation of exercises of scrambled sentences, paragraphs or other like sequence of some
procedure or priority of arithmetic operations and functions. Students drag and drop the sentence
fragments to put them in order. It doesn't need to be only a sentence. We can use numbers or steps of
some procedure to put them in order, as you can see in Figure 3.
JCross can be used to design crossword puzzles by entering the words directly into the grid or by
providing a list of words. The module automatically crops the grid into a crossword puzzle and
automatically assigns a number to each word. After that, we have to enter clues for each word.
JMatch allows creating matching and sequencing exercises based on two columns of items. In both
columns, beside text, we can insert pictures or other graphics or HTML table (see Figure 4.). A list of
fixed items appears on the left and jumbled items on the right.
JClose is gap-fill or fill-in-the-blank exercise template that allows the teacher to type any kind of text
and then choose the words be left blank for students to fill in. A specific clue can also be included for
each gap.
After creating a certain exercise, by clicking on the button on the Toolbar, the program will create a
web page on his own (browser version 5 or 6), based on HTML and Java Script but the author or the
user doesn’t have to know these languages. Hot Potatoes also allows the teacher to specify an e-mail
address to which student's scores are sent.
As we often make several exercises of different types and have a larger number of files, we can connect these
files by links or make a unity out of them using the Masher program, which is a module of Hot Potatoes
program.
Figure 3. Web page with a JMix type of exercise

Figure 4. Web page with a JMatch type of exercise


4.2. Interface
One of the advantages of this program is a possibility of translating interfaces in any language, which
enables users to interact in their mother tongue. It is possible to do it in two ways:
 by translating messages, buttons or commands of the whole program (in the main window:
Help - Interface - Translate the interface).
 by translating messages, buttons or commands that appear in the current exercise (in exercise
window: Options – Configure Output).

4.3. Use of the Hot Potatoes program in the educational purposes


The majority of schools in Croatia is equipped with a computer classroom and has the Internet access
and it is up to teachers to use the available equipment in the best possible way. “A computer will
achieve its real power when it becomes a learning device controlled by the pupil” 2.
Exercises made in Hot Potatoes program allow students to work their way towards correct answers
based on the feedback provided. This software is suitable for creating formative tests as a resource for
learning or self-diagnosis of learning needs. Bearing all this in mind, we can suggest you a few
exercises for pupils, using Hot Potatoes program, in the Croatian language, containing mathematical
and information science high school topics. Mathematical exercises, maid by Šime Šuljić, deal with:
linear functions, graph of the square function, sinusoids, vectors, derivatives, and can be found at
www.gssjd.hr/matematika/kviz. Information science exercises, maid by Elena Krelja-Kurelović, deal
with: numeric systems, operational systems, programming (BASIC) and some general notions in
informatics (crossword) and can be found at www.gssjd.hr/informatika.htm.
There are a lot of Internet web pages containing exercises created by using this program. The greatest
number of web pages contains exercises for learning a foreign language and some of them are:
 http://www.chompchomp.com/hotpotatoes/ (English),
 http://spanish-teacher.org/hot_potatoes/hot_potatoes_workshop.htm (Spanish)
 http://web.uvic.ca/hispanital/italian100/ (Italian),
 http://digilander.libero.it/Cyberteacher/esercizi_eng.htm (a number of languages),
 http://www.serve.com/shea/hotpots.htm (a number of languages)
However, there are different content exercises as well.
 http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/rgshiwyc/Maths_HotPot/year8/ (Mathematics)
 http://healthsci.clayton.edu/bearden/hotpots/ (Medicine)
It is necessary to point out that almost all these web pages are created for the English speaking
community.

5. CONCLUSION
Internet has become the biggest communication network that enables the access to people, data,
software, documents, graphics, audio and video material. In the forthcoming years our task is to adapt
a huge amount of educational materials to modern interactive technologies and make them Internet
accessible. The application of the Internet in education has many advantages, regarding students and
teachers as well as mere educational systems. Internet will thoroughly change all elements of
education. It makes it possible to teach outside the given space (classrooms, schools) and given time
(school year calendar, schedule).
However, practical examples, articles, innovative teaching forms etc. that use Internet resources in an
appropriate pedagogical context are still at the beginning. This article is in favour of overcoming this
condition. All creative persons working in schools should be involved in the project and the Hot
Potatoes program is an ideal instrument for that purpose. It is an excellent resource for the generation
of a flexible range of tests for self-study.

Literature
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[9] http://llt.msu.edu/vol5num2/review3/default.html
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