Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Course Management Systems

The two course management systems (CMS) at the U of M are WebVista (formerly referred to as WebCT) and Moodle. You may wonder why there are two, and you may not know which one is more suited to your use.

Why Moodle?

Why would you choose to use Moodle?

As you can already know, University has another course management system in place, called WebVista Vista, which is fully supported and which is used for the delivery of almost all online University courses.
Moodle provides yet another technology choice for course instructors. Choice of technology will depend on the instructor's need and type of learning activities, as some technologies can provide more appropriate solutions.
Choosing appropriate technology: Moodle and WebVista
Things that you may wish to consider when choosing technology for your class delivery:
* Target audience - access to technology and skill level of your students
* Personal preferences for interface design
* Support available from peers, and publishers
* Tools and their features provided by a particular technology, and their ability to match your teaching objectives

Main reason to choose Moodle:

* You are interested mostly in collaborative types of activities, that include lots of discussions, peer-evaluation, and group building of learning artifacts
In a nutshell
Style of learning activities
Moodle promotes collaborative style of learning, therefore most of its tools will have an emphasis on communication and peer-evaluation. As an example, students will be able to submit and evaluate each others wikis, glossaries, assignments, or forum postings. They can also take a standard online quiz, check the gradebook or simply download class materials.
Publisher support
Since WebVista had been on the market for a long time, most of the publishers offer pre-build course packages with materials, quizzes, assignments, etc, that you may choose to download and use.
User base
WebVista has a wider user base here on campus, so you can always talk to your colleague about its features.
Interface design /ease of use
Moodle has flat interface design, therefore almost all of the materials will be presented on the course homepage; it encourages more linear course structure and use of small clusters of information and more modular assignments.
Open source
Moodle is aa free open source system.
Institutional support
University provides full technology support both to Moodle and WebVista users. Both systems support single sign-on and guest access.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


We all have this wonderful tool available for our use -- the U of M ePortfolio. The University provides individualized content for each of us, including a photo (UCard photo), contact information, college and major, transcript, graduation information, and so on. We can think of this as our electronic file cabinet in which we can store information by and about ourselves, such as writing samples, photographs or design samples, video clips, music clips, resumes, internship experiences or mentors. As owners of our information, we can choose to share either part or all of our portfolio with other individuals.

You can see your ePortfolio at http://portfolio.umn.edu. Log iin using your InternetID and password.

Portfolio provides an efficient way to document and reflect upon personal information, educational accomplishments, career goals, skills development, professional practices, and recognition received. We can retrieve and view our documents at any time and organize components into folders for others to access. We are allowed to keep our portfolio for life, as long as we access our account at least once every six months. Storage allowed is 5 gigabytes.