Boston University Division of Extended Education Selects WebCT Vista

December 7, 2004

LYNNFIELD, Mass., Dec. 6, 2004 -Boston University’s Division of Extended Education will use the WebCT Vista academic enterprise system to develop new degree, graduate and enrichment programs using advanced e-learning principles.

The school, which went live on WebCT Vista this fall, is currently developing these new programs:

  • Executive Undergraduate Degree Completion;
  • Master of Science in Computer Information Systems (MSCIS);
  • Master of Arts in Music Education; and
  • Certificate in Emergency Management and Organizational Continuity.

“Our distance learning programs provide students from all over the world with an opportunity to obtain a high-quality education they might otherwise miss,” said John Ebersole, Boston University associate provost and dean of extended education. “Providing them with enriching educational experiences includes so much more than putting courses online. Through our choice of WebCT Vista and our focus on instructional design, we’re ensuring these experiences are equal to or better than the best available classroom education. It’s critical for students to enjoy learning and eagerly anticipate their next educational experience.”

The Boston University Division of Extended Education serves nearly 3,000 enrolled students in a diverse range of undergraduate, graduate and professional development programs. Its criminal justice master’s degree is the most popular program of its kind in the world, with enrollments growing from 45 to more than 400 in three years. Its physical therapy doctorate degree program has grown equally quickly. The school’s distance-learning programs are an important revenue source, grossing $15 million per year, more than making up for enrollment fall-off in part-time, on-campus night and weekend courses.

With the support of WebCT Vista, the institution plans to incorporate “fourth generation” e-learning principles into the courses. According to Ebersole, fourth-generation e-learning focuses on improving learner outcomes by adapting course content to learning styles, merging entertainment with education, and packing the course with powerful simulations. E-learning’s first phase was text-based electronic correspondence courses. The second phase was duplicating the classroom via streaming audio and PowerPoint. The third phase added interactivity and creative use of media.

The division has worked with course management systems from five different providers in as many years but chose to standardize on WebCT Vista. “We cut our teeth on a lot of different systems, both here and at other institutions, so we had a good idea of what we would use now and what we would use in the future,” said Susan Kryczka, director of the office of distance education. “WebCT Vista has the mix we need, and we’ll roll out new, advanced features as everyone’s needs evolve.”

Key advanced features in WebCT Vista for the division include timed assessments, selective content release, and the ability to create separate roles within the system for instructional designers and faculty members. Unlike course management systems that force an institution to conform to software, WebCT Vista conforms to the Boston University Division of Extended Education’s instructional design process, in which faculty members provide the content supported by a team of professional instructional designers. WebCT Vista also helps the institution enforce consistency over multiple sections of the same course.

“Boston University is bringing the same high standards that characterize its traditional education program to its highly advanced distance-learning program,” said WebCT President and CEO Carol Vallone. “Because of the way we’ve designed WebCT Vista, with flexibility being paramount, the Boston University Division of Extended Education can pursue its e-learning vision with full support from its academic enterprise system rather than tailoring the vision to the system.”

About the Boston University Division of Extended Education
Boston University’s Division of Extended Education serves the needs of working, part-time students locally, nationally and internationally. According to the U.S. Department of Education, such students constitute three-quarters of those enrolled in U.S. higher education today. The division offers a challenging array of innovative programs and courses through a variety of instructional formats, providing flexibility for the 21st-century student. Offerings include the Metropolitan College, Summer Term, Distance Education, BU Global, Corporate Education Center, Center for Professional Education and the Sargent Center for Outdoor Education. For more information, please visit

About WebCT
WebCT has set the standard for e-learning systems in higher education. Based in Lynnfield, Mass., WebCT provides a highly flexible e-learning environment that empowers institutions across the educational spectrum with the ability to achieve their unique objectives. Thousands of colleges and universities around the world, from community colleges to large university consortia, are using WebCT to expand the boundaries of teaching and learning. For more information, please visit