Investing Time in the Web:
Scholarly Risks and Rewards

Kirk Martini
Assistant Professor of Architecture and Civil Engineering
University of Virginia
January Teaching Workshop, 1997

Summary of Presentation Links

Note to Browsers

Copyright © 1997, Kirk Martini


Maximize "return" on a finite resource.

Tool Time

Discretionary time gaining field-independent skills and knowledge.

Market Survey

TTI = Teaching + Technology Initiative

Faculty Response


Teaching + Technology = No Thank You

Why that Response?

Many faculty:

Other faculty perceive....

A Bad Investment

High capital, low return

  • TTI = Terribly Time Intensive

  • TTI = Ted Turner Instruction

    • The intellectual equivalent of colorizing movies.

Why that Perception?

An abundance of compelling examples

  • Cyberdreck.

  • Powerpoint

    • The ugly wallpaper of conference presentations.

Illustration by Edward Frascino
"He decided he'd better do more gliding and less talking."

E.B. White, The Trumpet of the Swan

Teaching with Chalk Alternatives

Talkies and Colorization

Add not only color, but sound.

  • Sound is not the main event in a film.

  • The most meaningful episodes may not use it.

  • It adds a new dimension of communication that enhances the primary content.

A Source of (Mis)information
The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.

--Thomas Jefferson

Technology and Quality Filters

An opportunity to teach critical evaluation

Illustration by Garth Williams
"But Charlotte," said Wilbur, "I'm not  terrific."

"That doesn't make a particle of difference," replied Charlotte. "...People believe almost anything they see in print."

E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

It's not just for teaching

  • IATH fellows have transferred skills to teaching.

  • TTI fellows have transferred skills to research.

  • Teaching and research both involve the communication of knowledge.

    • The Scholarship with Communication Tools Initiative

  • An Example

Those are Positive Results of Action

There are also negative results of inaction

Expectations of a New Generation
Dear Mr. Martini,
I am in the seventh grade and am doing a project on Pompeii. I e-mailed John Dobbins and he told me to go to your site.

Your site is great. I was wondering if you could give me some sites YOU visited to get the information.

A 2-year-old's toy

A 3-year-old's tool
    Born in 1993: the same year as the web.

Illustration by Garth Williams
  "It's an impossible situation...You see, I'm Superintendent of Schools in this town."

  "That's not an impossible situation," said Stuart. "It's bad, but it's not impossible."

E.B. White, Stuart Little

A Brief Investment Guide

  • Things nearly everyone should do

  • Things some people should do

  • Things most people should avoid

Nearly everyone should:

Put their favorite work on the web as simple text documents.

  • Low investment of tool time.

  • Students will get to know you.

  • Your work and ideas can take on a new life.

Not doing this is like keeping money in a mattress.


Someone famous on the Internet

Some people should:

Get a TTI Fellowship and bring their ideas to realization

  • Vision and gumption

  • Irritation vs. Enchantment

    • Success results more from irritation with conventional technology than enchantment with new technology.

Most people should avoid:

  • High-gloss

  • Zeal

Design Guidelines

  • Learn from print

    • Moby Dick  and Ansel Adams are better models than the National Enquirer.

    • No decorative graphics (except cover)

    • Include a table of contents.

  • Rapid prototyping = rapid improvement

Guidelines for Use

  • Use the right tool for the job.

    • Not always the web.

    • Supplement, amplify, fill gaps.

  • Be explicit with students about new communication channels.

  • Recognize that an assignment is a contract that you both must honor.

Investing Tool Time

  • Be frugal with tool time, but not miserly.

  • Everyone should invest some tool time in the web.

  • Long-term investments for a new generation of students.

  • Novices should not make large investments without professional help.