"Why would one put educational materials online in the first place?"
It may occur to you to ask this perfectly valid question. There are a variety of reasons:
- Faculty at many levels can share, reuse or adapt materials to cover a wider array of scientific inquiry in a multidisciplinary fashion (Sumner and Dawe, 2001)
- There are resources that can't easily be incorporated into classes without using the web (Butler et al., 1996 )
- Sometimes, online resources are necessary to facilitate faculty's learning goals, such as the use of real data sets or investigative cases in class (Manduca and Mogk, 2003 )
- Instructors can reinforce or replace lectures with interactive labs where students complete research of their own (Grove, 2002 )
- Faculty teaching large introductory classes can more easily manage the workload by using automatic grading of web assignments (Shroder et al., 2002 )
- Students in far flung areas can collaborate with faculty to do real research on a grand scale (Perspectives on Case-based Multimedia Web Projects in Science (more info) )
- Students can gain access to courses that aren't offered at their school or in their area through web-based distance learning
(Gore, 2000 )
These and many other benefits can be products of utilizing the powerful tool that the internet has become. Students have access to all the information available on the web, which gives them powerful research opportunities to augment their assignments. The internet also offers additional mediums for students and faculty to communicate with each other. For these reasons, many faculty and institutions are looking at creating their own resources.
It should be noted, however, that there is a lot of misleading, misinterpreted and just plain wrong information out on the web. Faculty and students should have this in mind and should attempt to verify the validity of the sources they use.