UNIT unveils WebCT Vista for fall semester

Raynor Denitzio

Beginning in the fall of 2006, the familiar WebCT program will be updated as UNIT unveils a new version.

The Vista version, (not related to Microsoft Vista) will feature a new layout and new features which UNIT feels will benefit both students and teachers.

Among the benefits of the new program is access for students to all of their courses from a new “My WebCT” portal.

From the portal students will be able to view their course list, access a calendar, e-mail, their grades (for WebCT assignments and assessments), extend chat invitations to classmates through the “Who’s Online” feature, create a to do list, add bookmarks and access files for all of their courses.

They will also have the ability to modify the colors and layout of the portal.

In the Course List, tool specific icons will appear under the courses to notify students when new content or assignments have been posted.

“I like to refer to the My WebCT portal as one stop shopping,” Richard Wack, instructional technologies analyst for UNIT, said.

Additional features are available to students under the “My Tools” section, which is accessible upon entering the course.

“My Progress” allows students to track their progress in the course and the “Notes” tool allows students to take notes online which can later be used for review.

Aside from the benefits for students, the program also offers helpful features for professors as well.

The new Vista program allows professors to view their courses as students would through the Student View feature, offering them the chance to see first hand if their content is clear.

“What’s good for them [professors] is when they’re teaching the course, they can go in and view it under student view,” Wack said. “This allows instructors to simulate the student experience to see the content exactly as the students will see it.”

Professors can preview lecture materials, take quizzes and view the layout of their course, all as a student would to ensure that everything is working properly.

Though the original WebCT program had always been popular for online courses, UNIT hopes that professors will take advantage of the new features in traditional classroom settings as well.

UNIT believes that the new version of WebCT offers the best chance for growth as wireless and broadband capabilities grow.

“As we expand in areas of e-learning, this will give us the ability to grow,” Wack said.

UNIT will begin testing the program with professors over the summer and will offer training sessions to help the faculty get acclimated to the new system.

Furthermore, UNIT will offer support for faculty as they make the transition to ensure that both professors and students get the most out of the new program.

The new WebCT Vista program will be up and running in the fall of 2006.