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Saturday, March 02, 2024

UF committee to evaluate alternatives to E–Learning

After this week, it may not be long before blogs and Wikis become regular parts of the UF curriculum.

Today, a committee will finish reviewing new-and-improved E-Learning systems, which will include more up-to-date features than the current system.

E-Learning is UF's curriculum management system, which allows professors to teach all or parts of their courses online.

"Part of what we're looking for as we're looking for a new system is a way to get to new technologies and put them into the hands of teachers and students to enhance learning. That's what it's all about," said Doug Johnson, the manager of E-Learning Support Services.

It is likely that UF would have switched to a newer course management system soon anyway, but a pressing matter sped the process along, Johnson said.

Vista, the vendor which supports UF's current course management system and branded E-Learning at UF, announced last fall that as of October 2011 it would no longer support the program.

A 17-member committee comprised of 12 faculty members from different UF departments and five online program support employees was established to evaluate different systems used by peer institutions.

During the past year, the committee has reviewed three possible systems.

UF has been using a course management system since 1997. The Vista version has been in use since 2003.

Johnson said the current system, which has 30,000 live sections this semester, functions well, but each of the three new systems will allow instructors to do more. For example, improved tools in all of the considered systems will allow teachers to more easily build tests and quizzes online.

"I don't know whether students are going to particularly like that or not," Johnson said.

Other features will cater to students and professors, such as a class blog to make learning more interactive.

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While the committee hopes to make a recommendation to the chief information officer by the end of March, Johnson said it is unclear when the new system will be implemented.

With the current budget situation, it may be more cost effective to renew the Vista contract for 2010 and save the costs of installing the new system for 2011. Johnson said he would like to have the system installed by August 2010.

"That's one of those funding issues," he said. "If we're given funding to get enough staff, we can definitely make the move."

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