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Due to the rising cost of the annual WebCT license fee, limited technical support from the company, and the shrinking number of faculty still using WebCT, WOU will be discontinuing it as of September 1, 2009. Moodle, or what we also call WOU Online, will be the primary online learning management system.


Quick facts:


  • There are already 80 faculty with course creator access in Moodle and over 400 course shells, far exceeding the use of WebCT even at its peak.

  • Students, faculty, and staff use their Pawprint credentials to login to Moodle, which is less confusing.

  • Starting Summer term, courses are automatically populated by CRN -- something we can't do with WebCT.

  • This summer there are at least 35 online and/or hybrid courses, 10 in WebCT, 3 homegrown and the rest in Moodle. Most of the faculty using WebCT this term already plan to switch to Moodle in the Fall.

  • The renewal cost for WebCT is $15,000 per year. Moodle, an open source program with millions of users around the world, is free.

The level of satisfaction with Moodle is very high. Most of you have already made the switch, but those of you who haven't, please know that I will do all I can to make this transition as painless as possible.

Email me a list of the courses you wish to switch and I'll copy the content over to a Moodle shell to give you a running start. I'll be scheduling some more Moodle workshops later this summer, as well as fleshing out a Moodle 101 online course that's been in the works for a while. The best way to get going, however, is to schedule a one-on-one training session with me. Usually an hour is enough to get you started, and then we can schedule follow-up training as needed.

Q&A:

1. I have dozens of courses in WebCT. Does this mean I won't be able to get to them after September 1, 2009?

A: You will still be able to get to the courses on an as needed basis, though you will have to suffer through a constant barage of annoying "This license has expired" messages. However, I strongly encourage you to get your most important course content transferred before then.

2. My biggest issue is switching over my WebCT quizzes. Is there help with that?

A: I have several tools, including Respondus and Examview, which can help transfer your quizzes. Drop me an email and let me know which quizzes you wish to switch.

3. I've been wanting to get more into video and audio. Is that something you can help me with?

A: Yes. Currently, the most reliable way to put video and audio into your online courses is to convert them to Flash videos. I'd be happy to help with that. You might even consider checking out one of our new Flip video cameras, which are incredibly easy to use and record straight to mpeg. There's also neat free programs out there like Jing, that can make screen capture/narration fun and easy.

4. I'd like to start using Moodle, but I'm a complete neophyte. I don't think an hour or two is enough. Can you help?

A: Yes. Sometimes an hour is all that people need, and then they just call or email when they have questions. Others like to schedule an hour every week for several months. I can help either way. Plus please remember the purpose of the Technology Resource Center: you're welcome to work in the TRC and know that there are people to help when you have questions. I have a number of faculty who have been doing that off and on this summer.

If you have any questions, please contact me. Both myself, Computing Services and the administration at large are committed to helping you make this transition as smooth as possible.

Moving from WebCT to Moodle

As most of you know, we rolled out a new online learning management system about a year ago. By all accounts, Moodle (or what we also call WOU Online) has been a raging success. There's already three to four times as many people using Moodle as WebCT. The vast majority of faculty, students, and staff have expressed how much they prefer this tool over WebCT, for a variety of reasons.

Although there are no immediate plans to phase out WebCT, the dire economic conditions in Oregon could force WOU to make budget cuts later this year. Every September, we pay an annual license fee of around $15,000 (and rising) for the right to use WebCT. It's quite possible that if we were asked to make budget cuts later this summer, the university would decide to discontinue WebCT to save this money.

Why am I telling you this? Because I feel like a lead time of six months is the absolute minimum for ensuring the most painless transition from WebCT to Moodle, I feel compelled to give you a heads up about this possibility. If you are using WebCT, you are no obligation to switch to Moodle, but I strongly encourage you to do so sometime in the next six months.

I'm happy to do all I can to help. I'll be scheduling a number of open workshops on Moodle in the near future, and I'm always available for one-on-one training. If you have a lot of content that needs to be transferred, I have some tools that can help copy courses from WebCT to Moodle. It's not completely painless -- the courses will need cleaning up once in Moodle -- but it can save you a bunch of time. Let me know, and I can get your courses on my list.

Again, no requirement to switch to Moodle at this time, but I really do suggest you make the move at some point in the next six months. We just can't guarantee that WebCT will be available to you any later than Summer 09.

Any questions, or to get WebCT courses on my list, let me know.

WebCT and Moodle Update

Three quick things:

1. Cleaning out old WebCT courses.

On Monday, December 15, I'll be clearing out all students from all courses in Spring 08 and earlier in WebCT. We have a 3200 student seat license, which means we can only keep the students in the course shells for the previous two terms. All the courses have been backed up, however, so contact me should you need the data. You can, of course, also back up the courses yourself, which is explained here:

http://www.wou.edu/~carters/blogs/archives/2007/10/webct_tip_how_t.html

2. Are we going to keep WebCT?

This is a question I've been getting a lot lately, and I wanted to reiterate what I've said all along: there is no immediate plan to get rid of WebCT. If that decision was ever made, you would have at least a year lead time to move any courses off of it. But if I were you, I'd suggest moving to Moodle at some point in the near future. Pretty much universally, everyone's who's switched from WebCT to Moodle has been very happy with the results. WebCT is expensive (we pay a five figure license fee every year), and Blackboard (which now owns WebCT) appears determined to phase out our version of it. The next step up with WebCT is a lot more expensive and requires a dedicated server, so it's unlikely we'd go that route.

If you want any help with Moodle, let me know. I'd be happy to set you up with a course shell, or schedule a one-on-one session to walk you through it.

3. The TRC is closed December 22-January 1.

We will be open the Friday before the term begins (Jan 2), but otherwise, the lab will be closed from December 22 until Winter term. If you'd like me to set you up with a new WebCT course before January, please let me know by Friday, December 19.

Have a great holiday!

~Scott

As a general rule, I don't delete students from WebCT unless asked. Here's how you can remove students from a WebCT course yourself:

1. Once inside your WebCT course, click on Control Panel in the upper left.

2. Click on Manage Course.

3. Click on Manage Students.

4. Click on a student's name.

5. Click "Delete".

6. WebCT will ask you to confirm, and after you say yes, then the student has been removed from the course.

WebCT Tip: How to backup a course

A quick tip on backing up your courses . . .

Many of you using WebCT may have noticed that your student data from courses several terms old disappeared over the summer. Because our license fee is based on how many students are in our WebCT system, we can't leave old student data in the courses indefinitely. Generally, student data will be removed if it is more than three terms old. (This does not affect your own content -- just student postings, assignment submissions, etc.)

However, you *can* backup your own courses, and I recommend you be doing that on a regular basis anyway. This not only allows you retrieve old student data should you need it, it also allows you to restore courses should something go wrong. Here's how you do it:

1. Click on Control Panel.
2. Click on Manage Course.
3. Click on Backup Course.
4. Click on Create Backup.
5. Enter a short description. (If you have multiple backups, this can help you determine which one to use.)
6. Click Create.
7. Click Continue.

Your course backup is now available. The title is based on the day you created the backup, and your description is listed as well. Should you want to restore it, do the following:

1. Return to the Course Backup area following the steps above.
3. 2. Select the bubble next to the backup you want to restore.
4. Choose one of the options on the right as to *how* you want to restore your course. Remember, some of the options listed will override any of the current student data in a course, so be sure that's what you want to do.)

Any questions, let me know.