ATTENTION WEBCT ADMINISTRATORS!
I’ve been waiting a few weeks to tell people about this one since I saw it demo’d at the BC Ed Tech Users Group meetings, but promised Michelle that I wouldn’t post on it before her (since she’s the one that works at UBC, and not me.)
The folks at UBC (the original home of WebCT) have developed a set of scripts that mine the usage data and a few other variables in the WebCT database and give a system-wide picture of how the system is being used, and more importantly, allows you to anticipate the kind of usage coming down the pipe by looking at the scheduled tests and quizzes across the board. This is invaluable – for the first time within this system one can get a heads-up if 5,000 users are about to crash your server at the same time to take their Chem 101 test, while another 3,000 happen to be scheduled to take a Biology exam the same morning. And as you’d expect from a place that’s obviously in the know, there’s an RSS feed for this data!
Don’t be put off by the Flintbox site Michelle points to – the scripts are being offered for free, even though there appears to be a small registration process (and ominous talk of ‘patents’ and ‘licensing’) to wade through before you can grab it. – SWL
“In the demonstration, the WebCT Vista academic enterprise system automatically synchronized calendars with Microsoft Outlook using the OKI authentication and scheduling OSIDs, or APIs, to exchange data. This would enable both calendars to be simultaneously updated by updating one.”
This probably doesn’t seem like much, but in theory the promise held by widespread OKI OSID support is much greater. If such support were to be found in even a couple of the major CMS players (as well as one or two viable open source projects,) the barrier to entry for discipline-specific or pedagogic-specific application developers suddenly gets much lower, as they can focus on their application’s core functionality and not on re-building it to work with each of the different proprietary APIs. It’s perhaps unfortunate, though, that they chose the application they did to illustrate their implementation of the OSIDs. – SWL
Thanks to Michelle L. from UBC for pointing this site out to me – the University of Florida’s CMS selection committee seems to have settled on a recommendation of adopting WebCT Vista. They publish all of their meeting notes here as well as their required feature lists, which may be of interest. In general when we consult with institutions on a CMS selection proces, I always recommend they establish some sort of web presence as part of the process and publish as much material there as they can. CMS selection is already frought without enough issues and lack of transparency need not be one of them – SWL