WebCT Tools & Features

This section introduces tools and features of WebCT that can be used to assist both the student in the act of communicating and learning, and the instructor in act of providing and maintaining an educational environment. For a complete description of each tool, please see the on-line help. This page covers those used by the course designer (administrative tools).

Designer Tools

These are tools that are used by the course designer and marker in tracking and administering the course.

Progress Tracking. Progress tracking pages allow the designer to monitor student progress in the course. Indicators such as date of first and last access, time spent on system, percentage of pages visited, and more is available. An indication of course participation by way of the bulletin board is also available in terms of number of original and followup postings, and percentage of articles read. The students can be sorted on any tracking field in order to easily identify students who, for example, have stopped making access to the course, or who are prolific posters to the conferences.

Other progress tracking is available which indicates the total number of accesses to, and on average the duration of access to each course page. This can be used to make inferences about the level of interest or difficulty of a page.

Timed, On-Line, Automatically Graded Quizzes. As mentioned under student tools, quizzes can be written by the designer and delivered on-line on a predetermined day. A status page available to the marker indicates for each student whether that student has not yet begun, begun but not yet completed, or completed the quiz. Most question types can be automatically graded. Comprehensive statistics are available for quiz and question performance. A completed quiz, along with an indication of how long the student took to complete the quiz, is available to be marked on-line. Once marked, the grade assigned is automatically entered into the WebCT grade database and, along with comments, made available to the student.

Student Management. Class lists can be entered one student at a time, or can be uploaded (in a simple, predetermined format) as a whole. Class lists can be presented and printed in a variety of configurations and orderings. Grades are entered automatically by the on-line quiz tool. Grades for other activities can be entered manually by the marker. Weightings can be assigned to each activity, allowing WebCT to automatically generate final grades (which can be viewed on-line by students). Queries can be performed to show only those students with certain characteristics. Then grade statistics can be displayed for the entire class, or for any queried subset of the class.

Access Control. Student accounts are created by the course designer. Optionally, the designer can allow student's to create their own accounts. In either case, once the accounts are created, the student is able to change his or her password.

Course Backup and Transfer. The WebCT backup utility allows the course designer to backup a course and download it to his or her desktop for safe keeping. This utility also allows courses to be restored on an different server allowing the movement and replication of courses from one server to another.

Tool Integration. Many of the WebCT administrative tools are integrated. For example, in student management you can perform a query to list only those students who achieved more than, say, 80 on their midterm. Then you can choose to copy those student names to the WebCT clipboard. Now you could move to the e-mail tool, and click on paste from clipboard to fill in the to field of the message in order to send all those students a congradulatory message. Likewise you could go to the progress tracking tool and list only those students to see what kind of accesses they have been making to the on-line environment.

Course Look and Feel. WebCT provides and interface for the design of course pages, and the look and feel of the course as a whole. Courses can be customized in terms of several attributes. For example, the layout of the links on the homepage and tool pages can be displayed as one or two columns. The color schemes of the home page, tool pages and content pages are configurable by the designer. Defaults can be chosen, and overridden for individual pages. Likewise, a default set of tools can be made available from every page of content. This, too, can be overridden for individual pages. Several sets of icons are available to be chosen by the course designer, one providing a formal look, the others providing a more casual look. WebCT also provides a set of built-in images that can be used, for example, as course banners and icons. If none are suitable, the course designer can upload his or her own. Finally, a counter can be added to any page that records and displays the number of accesses to that page.

Course Welcome Page. Although every course has one main homepage, this homepage is only viewable by those with course accounts. WebCT also provides an authoring interface for a course welcome page. The authoring interface for the welcome page is much like that for the homepage. The difference, though, is that the welcome page lies outside the access-controlled course. Thus anyone, even those without a course account, can view the welcome page. This page is useful for information on how to obtain an account, and for contacts for information about the course. This page also has a link directly to the main homepage for the course, and to a guest-account creation facility should the designer allow guest accounts for this course.

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