Friday, September 30, 2005

Updates to MySCSU/MyCourses and the transition to online

We just an announcement about updates to MySCSU/MyCourses (the course access part of the MySCSU portal):

File Sharing:
The file size limitation has been increased from 1MB to 8MB and the total file storage space for each course has been increased from 12MB to 50MB.

Links to Web Sites:
The number of Links that can be posted in any course is 300.

Duration of Announcements:
Announcements sent to your students will remain available for a maximum of 120 days or until you (or they) delete them.
MyCourses also has links to OnlineCSU and the campus WebCT courses. I noticed recently that the campus WebCT link logs you in directly (Online CSU is on a separate password system, so you still have to log in separately. Hopefully Vista will help with this.)

How do faculty decide whether to put materials in MyCourses or WebCT? I would argue that putting some materials in both would serve students best. I going to start with the scenario of a complete online course, and then move to hybrid courses second.

With a completely online course, where all materials, exchanges, and assessments are being done online, all materials will already be in WebCT. However, given the perennial problem of access, whether due to network outages, password problems, or configuration problems, having a backup for key documents could be very useful. A simple Word or PDF file of the syllabus will only take a minute (or less) to load into MyCourses, and gives students an extra place to check due dates, contact information, and policies. Maybe add a link to the OnlineCSU page ("This course is taught via Online CSU") which could help new students confused by the multiple systems, or students taking courses in more than one system. There is no need to duplicate the entire course in MyCourses, but having the essentials could really help.

MySCSU will probably be most valuable for hybrid courses. One advantage is that all courses have MyCourses slots, while WebCT shells have to be applied for. Most of the features, aside from assessment, are duplicated--files & links (including readings), discussions, email, etc. If you don't need the assessment part (exams & quizzes, gradebook, etc.) MyCourses will handle most of the online course needs. The main drawbacks are organizational (MyCourses is purely chronological--last in on top) and esthetic (you can't configure MyCourses to look any different.)


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