Students Bring Professors’ Ideas to Life on the Web
June 10, 2005
One professor hopes to teach French song lyrics using animated
cues – showing a beating heart, for example, when the word “coeur” is
sung. Posted online, the lesson will allow students to puzzle
out a foreign language at their own pace.
Another faculty member wants to create a show-and-tell
about former President Richard Nixon, including links to films,
information on Checkers, Watergate -- perhaps even the newly revealed “Deep
A third wants to explain physics using moving images that can
show the difference between a traveling wave and standing wave,
At Wellesley College, the Knapp Instructional
Technology Summer Internship program helps students bring professors’ technological
dreams to life. This summer, nine student interns will work on
projects aimed at improving and enlivening college courses. At
the same time, the program at this all-women’s college encourages
female students to explore computer technology careers.
Earlier this spring, 50 students applied for a spot as a Knapp
intern; nine were accepted for the 35-hour-a-week jobs. The interns
will work on 15 technology projects from June 22-Aug. 12 under
the direction of Wellesley staff.
“We’re trying to do great projects for faculty – and
to offer the development of technical and management skills to
students,” said director of instructional technology Kenny
Students work on Web page design and a variety of other projects.
One professor would like her videotapes transferred to DVD format,
for example, keeping up with changing technology.
“You don’t need a lot of computer skills to start – but
it helps to take a beginning computer science course,” Freundlich
said. Students with a graphic arts or writing interest – or
just good enthusiasm – have an advantage too. Once interns
are chosen and given preliminary training, professors “sell” their
technology projects during presentations to the students (scheduled
this month on the 17th, 20th and 21st).
“One economics professor likened it to making
a pitch to a venture capitalist, except you know that
somebody will fund you,” said
Freundlich. “Students get to choose the top four projects
they’d most like to work on.”
Professor Jack Chen, who teaches an introductory course in Chinese
cultural history, wanted his class to be less talk and more action.
He hoped an interactive Web page with maps and timelines would
draw students into the 3,500 years of literature, politics, intellectual
history, and culture covered in the course. Knapp interns Kristen
Roth and Mimi Lai, now seniors at Wellesley, worked with Chen to
create Web pages replete with maps showing rivers changing course
over time, an image database and a time table with student-written
entries on the 100 most important issues of the era.
“I’m immensely grateful to Kristen and Mimi for having
done this,” Chen said. “No one had come up with these
ideas before. The course has always been very static. Now, the
project allows students to have a more active participation in
Students, as well as faculty, benefit directly
from these intensive summer jobs. One has gone on to work in
digital media for Microsoft;
an anthropology major became a Web designer for a bank. “It
gives them a whole lot of understanding of something that is valuable
to nonprofit organizations and the business world,” said
Freundlich. The internships also can benefit Wellesley staffing.
Heather Woods, a former summer intern, now oversees six people
as manager of Wellesley’s Knapp Center for Instructional
Senior Sara Kratzok collaborated on several projects last summer
as an intern. With classmate Devyani Parameshwar of India, she
worked on a Web page for Wellesley German professor Thomas Hansen.
“In addition, I used the AMICO image server to create an
archive of 100 images of New York City to be used in an English
class on ‘New York City in Literature and Art,’” said
Kratzok. “I also added a ‘prospective student’s
page’ to all the Science Department Web sites.”
An American studies major, Kratzok marvels at
the variety of technological skills she learned, an opportunity
that would have been impossible
during the academic year. “I was able to expand my limited
knowledge of Web design and work both independently and with a
partner on fascinating projects,” she said. “I was
also able to build lasting relationships with faculty members and
the Instructional Technology staff. In one summer, I was able to
learn so much, not only about Web sites, but about myself and the
entire Wellesley community.”
For faculty, staff and students, Wellesley’s
Knapp program offers a technology bonanza during the so-called
lazy days of summer.