by Roger Kenner
On February 20, Concordias Department of Instructional and Information
Technology Services hosted Montreals 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
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.