Below is a list of various WebCT components with descriptions and lessons
learned through our experiences with the tools. When you are finished, you
can return to the guest lecture.
Calendar allows students, teaching assistants, and instructors to exchange
information about class events quickly and effectively.
Depending on the calendar settings chosen, both instructors and students
can post public calendar entries (visible to everyone in the course) or private
ones (visible only to the author). Entries can be written in simple text or
HTML. Calendar entries may include links to course content or to external
websites, notification of assignment due dates, changes to instructor office
hours, or any other scheduling information you wish to record.
This tool in a required element in our WebCT courses whether they are full
online or web-enhanced classes. Version 3.6.x includes a global calendar for
students. When a student is in multiple classes he/she can quickly look at
what is due for each class.
As I mentioned earlier, we performed both a migration and an upgrade. Due
to both we experienced some problems within the calendar feature. If a designer
included information in the Details section of the calendar students and faculty
were unable to view the detail section. This was reported as a bug within
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Faculty post lecture notes and information about the course. WebCT actually
comes with what is called Content Manager, which allows designers to quickly
develop his/her course. Content is usually listed in an outline format. For
more detailed information about the Content Manager, please read the section
called Content Assistant and Syllabus Tool below.
In designing our courses we have found that the Content layout tends to be
difficult for students and faculty to manage. We have laid out many of our
classes in a module format. We create Organizer Pages that house
groups of information. For instance, if a psychology instructor may decide
to create an Organizer Page that houses information all about the Psychology
of Sleep or an English instructor may choose to organize his/her class by
chapters covered in the text book (i.e. Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.). The lay
out of a course will be dependent on the method of instruction that the teacher
uses in a traditional class.
When you take a tour of the WebCT courses, you can get a better idea about
this method of instruction.
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This Evaluation Tool in WebCT is one of the most debated on campus. In a
traditional class, testing is one of the biggest ways that a teacher can determine
a students knowledge and comprehension of course material. Generally
a large portion of a students grade is dependent on successful completion
of exams and quizzes. However, in an online class testing and quiz evaluation
becomes debatable. How do you know that the person who is taking the quiz
is the student?
At L&C we have adopted the policy that the quiz grade should be a small
portion of a students grade while participation in the course through
discussions, homework and such is more heavily weighted. We also require that
online students taken written exams (mid-terms and finals) at one of our Community
Education Centers. Most faculty do not give online mid-term and final exams
(unless they are proctored online exams).
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E-mail provides a location for students to communicate with their instructor
and fellow students in a private way. While this tool is slightly antiquated
in comparison to other email software of today, it still provides an avenue
to communicate. We find that some faculty still prefer to use their campus
email for email communication with students since they are notified when email
is received with the campus system whereas they are not notified when they
have new email in their course.
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One of the biggest changes in version 3.6 was in the Discussion Board tool.
The basic functionality of the tool is the same as with the older versions,
but how to do things is different. We found that in 2.2 faculty created Forums but
in 3.6, you create Topics. What is a Topic? On the most fundamental
level, a topic is one piece of information. An instructor can create a topic
that they would like students to address such as their thoughts on the future
of online teaching or to read a particular article, story, etc. and post their
Topics in WebCT can be public or private. One instructor may post a question
and want students to post their thoughts on the question and then make comments
about what other students have posted. Another instructor may want to create
small groups of students who discuss a particular topic and then present their
findings to the remainder of the class. These small groups may be private
groups with only the group members while the general discussion may be a public
topic where all students share their findings. Some of our instructors create
a private topic for each student and only that student and the instructor
are the member. This topic can then be used for students to post their homework
or discuss private things with the instructor.
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The My Grades tool is the area that students are interested in most. They
can quickly find out how they performed on quizzes or homework assignments
as well as find out their standing in the course. The gradebook in WebCT is
tied to the Quiz tool and Assignment tool. When quizzes or assignments are
created a column in the gradebook is automatically created awaiting grades.
In version 2.2, instructors used to be able to access their gradebook by
using the My Grades tool, but in version 3.x they have to access their gradebook
through the Manage Course link on the Navigation bar. This posed a
problem in the beginning for faculty.
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Chat allows you, and your students and teaching assistants to have real-time
conversations. There are four general-purpose chat rooms and one general forum
for the course. There is also a general chat room for all courses, which is
a room shared by everybody from all courses on the same server. Conversations
in the four general-purpose rooms are recorded. You are the only person in
the course who can see the records.
Chat is a feature that only a few of our instructor currently use, but is
a great tool for communicating with students.
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Content Assistant and Syllabus Tool
Accessible from the Navigation Bar or the Designer Map, Content Assistant
allows you to incorporate resources from the e-Learning Hub into your course
quickly and easily.
Syllabus allows you to create a customized syllabus for your course. It contains
- course information
- instructor information
- course goals
- course requirements
You can also add custom sections.
If you have created a syllabus in text or HTML, you can import it and use
it instead of the pre-defined Syllabus sections.
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You and your students can use Assignments only after you have added the tool
to your course. Depending on how you structure your course, you may want to
have Assignments linked on the Homepage or you may want to group them with
quizzes and self tests on an Assessment organizer page.
Assignments allows you to create and distribute course assignments to your
students, and download, evaluate, and assign a grade to the completed work.
First, add the assignment to the course by Adding an Assignment, then use
Assignment Settings to enter the instructions about the assignment, assign
a maximum grade to inform the students of the assignment's value, and set
the time and dates for which you want the assignment to be available. You
can also attach assignment-related files such as photographs, a spreadsheet
you want the student to modify, or articles to which you want students to
respond. Students can then view the assignment instructions, submit their
completed work, and view their grade after you have graded their assignment.
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Manage Files is the central storage area for all the files that make up
your WebCT course. This storage area is located on a remote server, which
is a networked computer running the WebCT server software. This server may
be located on the network at your institution or on your Internet Service
Provider's network; it may be geographically distant or in the building next
door. It is important to remember, however, that you and your students interact
with this remote computer whenever you access a WebCT course. The software
you use to access WebCT courses on your personal computer is your Netscape
or Internet Explorer browser.
A WebCT course consists of files (including HTML, text, and graphic files)
that are used by the various tools within WebCT. You will typically prepare
files for your course on your personal computer. You must then transfer these
files from your computer to Manage Files, which resides on the WebCT remote
server. Once the files are moved to Manage Files, they can be hyperlinked
to various areas in your course.
The method of transferring files to WebCT differs from that used by the Windows
and Macintosh operating systems. You cannot "drag and drop" files
and folders to WebCT. You must move files from your computer to WebCT by uploading
them. See Uploading Files for instructions on uploading.
In addition, files in a WebCT course are organized and stored in folders.
You can view the files within a folder by clicking on its title.
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