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 Tuesday, September 26, 2006 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


CULearn: The Next Generation of WebCT
By Jon Leslie, Publications and Creative Services

Faculty members will reap the benefits of an enhanced web-based course management tool when the new CULearn service launches in the spring semester. A significant upgrade from WebCT, CULearn will provide faculty with powerful new features—including customized content delivery and blogging—in addition to improved discussion group, class roster and grading capabilities.

"There are always requests for new features and new functionality, and this new application has some features we think the faculty will really like," said Kevin Notheis, ITS project manager. "There's a re-vamped grade book that looks a lot more like a spreadsheet, a more flexible discussion tool, some blogging tools and a new select release feature where faculty members can design a quiz, an assignment or a discussion thread and set up parameters so that content will only be released to students when they meet certain criteria, like reaching a certain grade or completing an assignment."

A select group of faculty members is using CULearn this semester in a pilot program designed to test its performance and make any final improvements before it launches next semester. Participants from a variety of academic disciplines were recruited for the program by Distributed Academic Technology Coordinators (DATCs) in the ITS department.

"We wanted to do the pilot to get faculty feedback," said Greg Stauffer, ITS communications manager. "It's important to understand from the faculty point of view what tools are very useful and what things they would like to see added."

ITS is sponsoring brown bag seminars to introduce CULearn, in addition to training sessions scheduled for later this semester. Faculty will be able to add new spring 2007 courses to CULearn later this fall, and will also be able to migrate all existing WebCT course content to the new service. Regular communications, including Buff Bulletins and e-memos, will be sent as more information about the rollout becomes available, including when faculty members can begin requesting courses.

The first brown bag seminar is scheduled for Sept. 27, 12 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. in UMC 384. For additional seminar times and locations, visit the ITS training web site.

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