Professors ride the Web CT technology wave


by Kelly Sander

Web CT is becoming more utilized by professors and students onSimpson’s campus.

“I create the space for their course,” said Charles Johnson,academic software specialist, when talking about his role with WebCT.

Professors personalize their own courses after Johnson sets upthe space.

He also says that professors are pretty good at knowing whatthey want when it comes to setting up Web CT, though he can becontacted if any questions arise.

“We’ve had it [Web CT] for three years and the usage isincreasing,” said Johnson.

According to Johnson, Web CT was installed during the fallsemester of 2001, but not many used it because there wasn’t enoughtime to fully develop the courses.

However, in the fall of 2002 there were 26 courses registeredand this last fall there were 46 courses.

Students can interact with one another through e-mail and chatrooms.

Quizzes, tests, surveys and assignments can be taken through WebCT. Home pages, that are only available through Web CT,presentations and grade reports can also be accessed.

“I like it,” said freshman Jen Orchard. “Everything you need isright there. It’s convenient.”

There are many options professors can utilize on Web CT.

“I use the discussion boards the most,” said Erin Reser,instructor of speech and rhetoric. “If people actually take thetime to read what on them, they can be very useful.”

Reser also likes the flexibility Web CT offers. For example, ifchanges need to be made to the syllabus she can change itonline.

It’s also convenient for anyone who may need to check on anassignment.

Though Web CT offers many advantages, there can be downfalls.Feeling stuck behind a computer is a concern to some students.

“I know some students who have three or four classes that useWeb CT, so I think sometimes they feel like they’re at the computerall the time,” said Reser.

According to Sal Meyers, associate professor of psychology,technical problems can also arise.

There were problems with students accessing Web CT this fallwhen the virus hit, although there was nothing wrong with WebCT.

“Web CT can be used as a way to get information into students’hands,” said Meyers.

Meyers has used Web CT to help students in lower levels writepapers. By assigning one topic, students can help one another byposting questions on Web CT.

Since they have access to the same articles they also haveaccess to the same article.

Web CT was introduced to the freshman class through the LillyInitiative Program.

Students have been given questions that reflect upon theirpersonal growth as an individual at Simpson. They’re asked to posttheir responses on Web CT for their advisor and career developmentto view.

The Division of Adult Learning requires professors who teachSaturday classes, which meet every other Saturday, to use WebCT.

Training is given to professors to help them become morefamiliar with the program, according to Graeme Armstrong, assistantdirector at West Des Moines.

“Roughly 60 percent of the class is in the classroom and 40percent outside, using Web CT,” said Armstrong.

From giving quizzes to class discussions about current topics,Web CT has proven useful.

“I don’t use Web CT just to use Web CT,” said Meyers. “I use WebCT when it adds something meaningful to the class.”