Campus has Desire to replace WebCT

Julie M. Frank

Julie M. Frank

SDSU’s licenses with WebCT expire in July 2008 and will switch to a new learning management system, Desire2Learn, according to Dr. Michael Adelaine, vice president for information technology.

A learning management system “allows instructors to duplicate their learning environment and make it easier to have practice tests, videos and chats,” Adelaine said.

A committee consisting of faculty, technology personnel and administration researched potential systems, said Adelaine. After the list was narrowed down, the committee debated between renewing the school’s license with WebCT and switching to Desire2Learn.

Adelaine said the two learning management systems are similar in many areas except for their cost, which was the determining factor. WebCT costs are “significantly higher” than Desire2Learn, and that still costs over a million dollars, which will be paid for with student tuition dollars.

Desire2Learn pilots will launch during the spring semester and the entire school will be on board by Fall 2008.

Currently, there are roughly 2,000 SDSU courses using WebCT’s services, according to Adelaine.

Dr. Virginia Norris, a psychology professor, finds WebCT to be useful. “It allows me to set it [content] in a separate area than in my e-mail,” she said.

Norris has been using WebCT for about six years and has taught online classes through it. She said it allows her to contact students and provide them with information and assignments.

Journalism and Mass Communications Professor Lyle Olson also teaches an online online class through the WebCT system and said that over the years, students seem to become accustomed to the program and appear to like it.

“It’s not perfect, but it allows students to access videos and Word documents,” he said.

Some instructors, like Delmer Lonowski, a political science professor, disagree.

“I can’t find a use for it,” he said. “What can they do on WebCT they can’t do in a classroom?”

Lonowski, who has used the system, said it is impersonal. Not using it forces more interaction between instructors and students.

Students who use WebCT find its services useful as well.

“It works,” said freshman Chris Hey, an aviation major. “It’s really easy to use. Just log in and your classes are there.”

Both Elise In’t Veld, a senior biology pre-medicine junior, and Jason Nguyen, a senior psychology and pre-medicine major, like WebCT because they can easily access their grades. They said they do not mind switching systems as long as the new one is always running properly and instructors tell them where to go.

“It’s just something else to remember to log into,” Nguyen said.

Olson said the switch to Desire2Learn is “inevitable.”

“It’s like getting a new version of InDesign,” he said. “You have to make adjustments.”

Desire2Learn was founded in 1999 and has over 4 million users world wide according to its website. They “provide a user-centric, Web-based platform for the delivery of online teaching and learning …” The learning management system caters to grade schools, secondary education, corporations, associations, health care and government. Colleges and universities like Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the University of Iowa, North Dakota University System and others use the system.