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March 15, 2001 Concordia hosts first WebCT forum







by Roger Kenner

On February 20, Concordia’s Department of Instructional and Information Technology Services hosted Montreal’s first informal get-together of local WebCT administrators and technical staff. Representatives of each of the four universities of the city were present, along with one WebCT administrator from the CEGEP-level.

Common problems and solutions to meeting the ever-growing demand for the WebCT (Web Course Tools) service at the four universities were discussed at the three-hour open forum. Joint protocols for sharing information were established, as well as a plan to continue meeting. Hosting of the event will rotate among the universities, and meetings will be called three times annually.

WebCT is a very popular software package that provides a framework for instructors to place components of their course on the Web. It has been available to instructors at Concordia for the past three years.

WebCT course accounts have been created for all courses in the Molson School of Business, the Faculty of Arts and Science, and two departments in Engineering and Computer Science — a total of some 6,000 accounts. So far, instructors have logged into about 1,000 of these course-shells, with approximately 300 making active use of the product. All student accounts are generated automatically.

Also, an ongoing project within the School of Business allows for electronic submission of final grades via WebCT. This is the fifth term of electronic-grades submission, and more than half of the instructors in the School of Business are participating.

The Open and Distance Learning Office of IITS provides faculty support for the use of the WebCT service. WebCT can also be integrated with other on-line course support tools, such as First Class. It is one of the technologies that Concordia is using to support the McConnell Grant, whose objective is to train faculty in the use of technology and on-line pedagogy.

McGill University, the University of Montreal and UQAM also offer WebCT to their professors, and provide similar programs for their faculty. It was this common experience which led Concordia to host this first joint session. For the Montreal area, Concordia fulfills the role of recognized WebCT training institute.

Many of the universities in Canada offer WebCT. Across the world, there are some 1,500 institutions using it, representing roughly 150,000 faculty teaching more than 5.8 million students online.

Roger Kenner is the Coordinator of Research and Development in IITS.