Piling up of Web services

The presence of three e-mail systems – GopherMail, WebMail 3.0 and WebMail Pro and several classroom tools – Moodle, WebCT, Vista and the Carlson School of Management extension of Vista – create a confusing Web environment for students, especially those with courses utilizing a combination of the programs. A quicker transition between these programs is necessary.

The Carlson School runs on an extension of Vista, which the school has enhanced to provide its classrooms with more options. WebCT campus edition became Vista a year ago, until another company recently purchased the service. Both programs are still operating. The University also recently launched Moodle – an open-source technology for teaching. It’s not exactly a competitor of Vista, but it does fall into the same general category – becoming yet another exasperating classroom tool.

The new e-mail technology is more efficient and allows service to persist while using less of the central server. The older e-mail services use more processing power, and consequently, increase hardware costs. The transition between these e-mail services has been particularly slow because the Crookston and Duluth campuses still use WebMail Pro. These schools need to shift from the old program to accelerate the process of having a central service for the entire University system.

It is confusing and excessive to have numerous services which more or less perform the same function. It might be a better investment for the University to seek a program that can serve all of the campus’s needs, be it e-mail, teaching tools or other Web resources. Maintaining these programs is an unnecessary expense and eliminating overlapping programs could save the University money to develop better Internet services.

The University is legitimately concerned about catering to the needs of different people. However, instead of having more programs, it would be helpful to combine the various features that each system offers into one service.