Craig Tapley
Professor Craig Tapley's work to create a richer learning experience for undergraduates was recognized.

UF Professor implements first interactive electronic-platform business course

Craig Tapley, a professor of finance in the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida, was recognized Friday for his pioneering work with electronic platform courses.

Tapley volunteered to work with an instructional design team to create a richer learning environment for undergraduate students in core classes.

For his achievement, Tapley received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Online Teaching from R1edu, an association composed of 34 American research universities that work together to provide access to distance learning classes and reference materials.

Currently, most e-platform classes in the college are limited to watching lectures on the Internet and taking tests, said Judith Fisher, director of instructional support at the Dudziak-McClintock Business Technology Center in the College.

With UF’s adoption of WebCT VISTA course management software, Tapley’s class was restructured to support collaborative learning. It was reorganized into 10 content modules, each providing a greater variety of learning activities to engage students. In addition to lectures, an “e-pack” provided video clips, chapter outlines and problem sets.

“Our real emphasis should be on students learning the material – not just passing the class,” said Fisher.

Quizzes, practice tests and a discussion board were also available online. A team of 28 teaching assistants was assembled to oversee groups of 30 to 35 students in online discussions. Often, students were required to read attached articles and then answer questions or provide comments related to the reading. Teaching assistants assigned students grades based on their postings.

An optional project was also offered. However, students who wished to earn an “A” had to complete the project, said Fisher.

This approach was successfully used first in Tapley’s business finance class during the spring semester. Feedback from students indicated that although the amount of coursework increased, they believed it resulted in additional learning.

Ultimately, the College hopes to integrate this active environment into the other 10 e-platform business courses offered, said Fisher.

“These changes represent a tremendous paradigm shift for students and faculty—indeed, for the college itself,” she said.