Web program allows for

David Hyland

Beginning spring quarter, students enrolled in College of Liberal Arts courses can use an Internet program to find course information or interact with their classmates.
The World Wide Web program, called ClassWeb, was unveiled Wednesday in the President’s Room of Coffman Union.
The ClassWeb program was developed within CLA to allow students access to course information and avenues for student interaction on the Web. The information — assignments, practice questions or syllabuses — will be maintained by the course’s instructor.
“It makes information much more readily available,” said Karl Krohn, senior user services specialist in the University’s sociology department. Krohn helped test ClassWeb in his department last year.
“As more and more students have their own computers and have 24-hour access to a computer, they can get that information from home or from the dorm,” Krohn said.
To gain access to course information, students need to be registered for the courses and must use their e-mail username and password to log on.
Using their office computers, instructors have exclusive access to create or update information for their courses.
“I think it makes access between professors and students simpler and more uniform,” said assistant sociology professor Elizabeth Boyle. “It’s not just the students who are especially coming to my office who get those benefits.”
When students reach out for those benefits on the ClassWeb homepage, they are greeted by a list of links to all CLA courses of participating instructors.
An online bulletin board is also available where students can post questions or problems and other students can respond.
“We have had some nice exchanges going on there,” said Boyle of her class’s online discussions.
Jennifer Mein, CLA’s Web administrator, helped in the development of ClassWeb. She said she hopes to expand the system’s interactive aspects in the future. Plans are underway to allow students to view their grades online, and a chatroom — to facilitate student discussion — might be constructed.
In the future, the program might offer students access to their course’s supplemental or reserve readings.
“That’s definitely something we’re looking into,” Mein said. “Because the ClassWeb allows only people registered in that class to view course materials, that makes it OK to see copyrighted material most of the time.”
The project, with a price tag of $100,000, began last summer when CLA’s information technology office attempted to come up with a program similar to one operating in the Carlson School of Management. The office contacted Creative Internet Solutions, a Minneapolis-based Web site development company, to build ClassWeb.
Because its instructors already had course information available on the Internet, the sociology department was chosen as the test site during fall quarter.
Despite some interest from other colleges, Mein said there are no plans to expand ClassWeb to the rest of the University.