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January 29, 2007
Campus Edition 6, a new version of WebCT, gives students 15 megabytes of personal file space, allows them to create their own personal profile and gives them the ability to chat with professors and other students who are logged on.
"The new version has a significantly better interface," said Jill Wallace, WebCT coordinator in Teaching and Learning Technology. "The tools are much easier to use and there is great improvement in the discussion and assignment tools."
Along with these changes, Teaching and Learning also changed the name of the program from WebCT to WebCampus.
During the fall semester, about 60 courses were enhanced with a pilot version of CE6.
"We started out by asking members of our WebCT advisory council to pilot CE6, but many other instructors decided to try it too." Wallace said.
Eric Wang, mechanical engineering professor said the new version allows instructors to keep better track of their students.
"We can use student tracking to see when students log on," Wang said. "Students don't really like it, but it works great for us. The grade-book is also very nice. It is much easier to use."
Wang said he also finds the "demo student" option useful because it allows instructors to take online quizzes and view the course the way students see it. Instructors were not able to do this on the old version, he said.
Campus Edition 6 also offers many new features that will be useful for students.
"The calendar day feature tells students what events and assignments are posted for that day in all of their classes," Wallace said. "The calendar week feature allows them to look at their entire week."
Wallace said that majority of instructors are not using WebCampus to substitute traditional classrooms.
"We are using WebCampus to enhance face-to-face classes, not replace them," Wallace said.
Wallace said that TLT began planning for its transition to CE6 during the summer of 2005. They were licensed and able to use the pilot version by July, 2006. Although some instructors are still using the old version of WebCT, the University is expected to make a complete transition to CE6 by the fall of 2007.
The University began using WebCT in the spring of 2000 with 11 courses. Currently, about 24 percent of University course sections are enhanced with a version of WebCT. TLT employs three full-time staff members and two part-time instructional design staff members that assist with the management and operation of web-enhanced courses.