Guideline for Course Descriptions

From WebScience

Jump to: navigation, search
About this Document

This document contains information for lecturers of the Master programme “Web Science” at the Cologne University of Applied Science. It is intended to be used as a guideline during the preparation of the description of a course. Some organisational background of the programme is provided, the role of the course description in the organisation of distance learning is explained, and a framework for structuring course desciptions is defined.

Objectives and Organization of the Master Programme

Since about 2005 there is a movement going on to establish Web Science as a new discipline. It aims at studying the Web from multiple perspectives, including socio-cultural, economical, informatical, technical, legal and design perspectives (

[1], [2], [3], [4] )

In addition to the academic relevance of this approach, there is a growing need in a variety of positions in all sorts of enterprises to analyize the influence of the Web on the performance of the enterprise and to develop concepts for maximizing the use of its potential.

The master programme Web Science at the Cologne University of Applied Science aims at providing future leaders in enterprises with the knowledge and the competencies, that allow them to make competent decisions concerning Web Strategies and Web Projects. The master programme is a further education for graduates with informatical, economical, design, technical, legal degrees. Through this openness and through its curriculum it embraces the multiperspective nature of Web Science.

The programme is a extra-occupational course of studies making extensive use of modern E-Learning approaches, like online lectures and seminars as well as computer mediated communication and collaboration. Students from Germany are welcome as well as international students. All lectures, discourses, materials and communication is in English. Students are required to be present in Cologne for two extended weekends[5] per semester and to be available online for lectures, seminars and group work on two evenings[6] per week during the semester.

The curriculum is organized in modules with typically 12 credit points. It is documented in the Module Handbook. The modules consist of Courses, meant for teaching knowledge and of Seminars and Projects, meant for applying the knowledge and for exercising scientific discourse and project work. The courses with 3 credit points each are composed of the didactical elements online lecture, online groupwork, face-to-face activity, and offline learner activities.

Objectives and Intended Use of a Course Description

The domain Web Science is very young and there is not yet a unanimously accepted body of knowledge, that would be documented in comprehensive teaching material. Therefore the traditional approach in further education, to provide comprehensive and stable teaching material for lectures, cannot be applied to Web Science. The approach here is rather to compose the teaching material of selected parts of monographs, articles from conference proceedings and journals, and online resources. This approach facilitates the adaption of the course material to the evolution of the domain with each supply of the course. In order to allow the students to better cope with the resulting multitude and potential inconsistency of the learning materials, the lecturer should provide a guideline, that

  • defines the intended learning outcomes,
  • motivates, explains, and documents the thread of the lecture,
  • lays out the didactic structure defining the online lectures, online groupwork, offline studies, and

face-to-face activities,

  • provides references to the learning resources in the Web, the library, and the learning platform, and
  • provides hints for further studies and potential projects in the domain of the course.

The use of the guideline is twofold: firstly it is used by the students as guideline for their learning activities during the course. Secondy it is the basis for the alignment of the content of the courses among the leturers within a module.

Content of a Course Description

A course description should deal with the topics listed in the sequel, such that the objectives mentioned above are reached.

The big idea The relevance of the topic of the course for Web Sience as a

academic discipline and for tasks in the professional pratice should be explained. It would be very welcome, if in addition to a written explanation also a video statement of no more than three minutes duration would be provided.

Intended learning outcomes An explanation of the knowledge, competencies and skills,

that would be acquired by the participation in the course. The relation of these intended learning outcomes to the respective objectives of the module and the programme as whole should be discussed.

Structure of the course The structure of the course should be provided in some detail.

For each topic a brief introduction should be given, the main concepts should be listed, and relations between them should be explained. References to material in the library, the learning platform, or the internet should be given and it should be stated whether material is considered mandatory or supplementary.

Assignments The assigments given to the students during the course should

be listed and layed out in detail.

Schedule A schedule of the online and on-site activities is to be provided.
Didactical concept It should be explained how the topics of the course are being

dealt with: the use of online lectures, online groupwork, study phases, and on site activities should be defined for each topic. Also the expected workload for each topic should be defined.

Examination Information concerning the examination should be provided

for the students.

Formal and Style Requirements

The original of the guideline will be a hypermedium with functionalities for versioning and discussion. This approach has been chosen, in order to facilitate spontanous and in-context discourse about the guideline, activities and contents of the lecture. The discourse should be conducted in a open way between all parties, including the students, the lecturer, the person responsible for the module, other lecturers, and the Fachausschuss Web Science.

Currently a wiki system[7] will be used.

The course description is to supplied in the Media Wiki Syntax, which well known from Wikipedia.

Lifecycle of a Course Description

The guideline will be provided by the lecturer in time so that a discourse with other lecturers can take place prior to the semester.

During the semester comments and proposals for the further development will be collected. Certain adaptations may be applied during the course.

Prior to the next supply of the course, an iteration of the development process will normally be necessary: the dynamics of the domain, experiences of the lecturer, and comments collected will lead to a new version of the guideline.

Supply of Learning Material

The learning material for a course will be made available to the students at different sites including

Library The library of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences will offer access

to textbooks either as E-books or as printed copies. The author of the Course Description should carefully reference the parts of ebooks in the Course Description and agree the acquisition of ebooks or printed copies with the library or the Fachausschuss Web Science three months before the lectures start. In the case, that appropriate ebooks are unavailable, the author has to ensure, that excerpts from paper based textbooks do not exceed the limit of one chapter per book.

Learning Platform Material from the Internet, material prepared by the lecturer or other

material that is necessary for the learning activities of the students should be carefully identified and referenced in the Course Description and is to be made available in the learning platform prior to the lectures. During the lecture phase the learning platform can be used to make available the presentation material of the lectures.

Web Resources Material, that is accessible through the WWW is to be carefully referenced

within the Course Description.


  1. Tim Berners-Lee, Wendy Hall, James Hendler, Nigel Shadbold, Daniel Weitzner. (2006). A Framework for Web. 1. Foundations and Trends in Web Science. p. 1-130. 
  2. Tim Berners-Lee, Wendy Hall, James Hendler, Nigel Shadbold, Daniel Weitzner. (11 2006). Creating a Science of the Web. 8. Science. p. 769-771. 
  3. James Hendler, Nigel Shadbold, Wendy Hall, Tim Berners-Lee, Daniel Weitzner (2008). Web Science: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding the Web. 51. Communications of the ACM. p. 60-69. 
  4. Ben Shneiderman (2007). Web Science: A provocative Invitation to Computer Science. 50. Communications of the ACM. p. 25-27. 
  5. The face-to-face activities start on Friday noon and last until Sunday afternoon
  6. 7 p.m. until 10 p.m.
  7. 3A instance of the MediaWiki or SemanticMediaWiki will be used for the moment. It is available at
  • James Hendler, Nigel Shadbold, Wendy Hall, Tim Berners-Lee und Daniel Weitzner. „Web Science:

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding the Web“. Communications of the ACM. 2008. vol. 51. no. 7. p. 60-69.

  • Konrad Scherfer. Webwissenschaft - Eine Einführung. Lit Verlag. 2008. 286 p.. 978-3825809478.
  • Ben Shneiderman. „Web Science: A provocative Invitation to Computer Science“. Communications of

the ACM. 2007. vol. 50. no. 6. p. 25-27.

  • Web Science (Web Portal). online. Web Science Research Initiative. 2006-. 11 June 2009. http://