Knowing how to use some kind of asynchronous communication program in addition to email is essential to Online teaching. Our faculty have found that HyperNews, created by Daniel LaLiberte of NCSA, is a wonderful tool for engaging students in organized, in-depth discussion.
Unique Features of the HyperNews Program
- HyperNews is a Web-based electronic bulletin board.
It organizes discussion in easy to read threads, is simple for students to use and simple for faculty to customize to their own particular teaching needs. It incorporates into the Web the key feature of USENET Newsgroups: The dialogic process of posting messages and responding to messages. But HyperNews is potentially a much more powerful form of discussion than Newsgroups because it is Web-based. In USENET Newsgroups one always enters in the middle of a conversation whose past is constantly being erased. HyperNews preserves the full context of discussion on a Web page, allowing one to enter the dialogue at any point in its past as well as its present. HyperNews also allows one to move messages from one document to another. If a discussion page gets too long and cumbersome, one can easily create a new document and move whole message threads or any combination of messages onto the new page. This feature enables one to continually refocus and reorganize any discussion.
- HyperNews can create a virtually unlimited number of separate discussion pages.
This capacity of HyperNews is perhaps its most important feature for teaching. The procedure for creating discussion pages is fast and simple, and empowers instructors to create HyperNews pages for a whole range of communication needs. One can create a discussion page for each course topic, a private page for each student in the course to post her assignments and for conducting private discussion about the work, or pages for working groups to commmunicate with each other in developing their collaborative projects.
- HyperNews is the Pit-Bull of the Internet.
Another extraordinary quality of HyperNews, which I have not seen in any other Web Board Program, is its capacity to attach a discussion page onto any document on the Web. HyperNews is a PIT-BULL--it can hook its teeth into any URL . Any Web document in the world--a scholarly paper, an Internet resource page, a course assignment--can be transformed into a forum for discussion.
- HyperNews is Free.
One of the greatest pleasures of using HyperNews is knowing that this extraordinarily powerful teaching tool is Freeware. It is available to anyone in the world who wants to download its source code. My son, Jonathan, a hacker from the cradle, introduced me to HyperNews a couple of years ago and showed me its potentials for teaching and learning. He also taught me that "the best wares in life are free."
Why? Because people like Daniel LaLiberte(such an appropriate name) create wonderful programs for love not money. LaLiberte spends endless hours improving HyperNews and has created a world-wide community of folks who communicate with him about bugs and problems and improvements--in HyperNews discussion forums, of course! Commercial Programs, alas, close off the dialogue.
Thank you, Daniel LaLiberte for your gift of love to the world. You have given Web teachers a wonderful teaching tool. It's free and it's the best.John Hartzog,CSU, Northridge