WebCT needs improvements

The new WebCT confuses many, questioning whether Vista really is more accessible.

Web Course Tools, commonly known as WebCT, is an online system that the University is in a licensed agreement with. The system is practical in many senses by providing the entire University with one program that facilitates the needs of many courses in one portfolio. The system offers the ability to take quizzes and communicate, as well as posting grades, syllabi and assignments. Many in information technology and students taking sciences courses use the program, but it fails to be universal in discipline and has some flaws.

The system almost is useless to many social science students. At times, professors use the site only to link their own site through WebCT. The political science department has its own Web site for professors and students, offering a more personalized online tool.

A common problem with the WebCT system is that it is inaccessible to some students, creating login issues and problems with missing links. Another issue is the conversion of the old system to the new system, which confused many students and faculty members. The older campus edition is being phased out and Vista, which is supposed to be more accessible to students, is being implemented. The phasing-out process is long overdue and many disagree that Vista is more accessible.

While some argue that the new WebCT is more organized, others argue that it simply is more confusing with the listing of all previous courses along with present classes on the same page.

Then there is, of course, the question of privacy. Some WebCT programs provide student information to professors; whether this is done at the University is unknown. Specific times and links accessed are made into graphs and are available to professors: information that appears harmless but that could potentially be used against students. Professors worry about students accessing the system. Itís conceivable that students would not care to access WebCT. The bottom line is that many students think WebCT does not contribute much to the enrichment of their studies. Professors smitten over the program should recognize that WebCT should be a supplement to, and not a takeover of, classroom learning.