University of Florida selects WebCT Vista to serve nearly 50,000 students to start

May 20, 2004

LYNNFIELD, Mass., and GAINESVILLE, Fla., May 19, 2004 – The University of Florida, one of the nation’s five largest universities, has selected WebCT Vista to support exponential e-learning growth and continually improve academic quality for more than 48,000 students beginning this fall.

E-learning usage at the university has doubled every year since 2000, with more than 75,000 student seats in 1,300 courses in place today. WebCT Vista will enable the institution to further scale its e-learning programs by growing its distance-learning program and hosting e-learning services for partner campuses.

Key features that separated WebCT Vista from other software the university considered included its flexible assessment and selective content release capabilities. “We carefully considered this decision for 10 months,” said Learning Support Systems Manager Doug Johnson, who chaired the University of Florida Course Management System Advisory Group. “We surveyed students, faculty and administrators and represented all stakeholders on our selection committee. We scrutinized vendor offerings, ran trials, created test accounts and ultimately decided that the power and flexibility of WebCT Vista best served our institution today and in the future, as envisioned in our strategic academic and IT plans.”

As a top-tier research and land-grant institution, the university is required to aggressively conduct food and agricultural extension services to communities around the state, a role that dovetails with WebCT Vista’s capabilities to support multiple institutions via a single instance of the software. Meanwhile, one of the school’s main IT strategies is consolidating and centrally managing disparate systems for better service and lower cost of ownership. WebCT Vista will operate on the institution’s Linux operating system, helping manage ownership costs while harnessing the deep experience of campus IT professionals.

The university plans to integrate WebCT Vista with the PeopleSoft student information system it is currently deploying. The university will also integrate WebCT Vista with the library systems so that faculty can easily provide access to library holdings through their courses.

The institution will achieve scalability goals by utilizing the J2EE architecture to balance processing loads and provide fail-over protection in addition to upgrading hardware and software. WebCT Vista will also enable the institution to host e-learning services for partner campuses and aggressively grow its distance-learning program.

“E-learning offers tremendous efficiencies particularly for a school like the University of Florida, where larger courses enroll more than 2,000 students,” said Carol Vallone, WebCT president and CEO. “The university has wisely chosen to manage growth by capitalizing on e-learning’s myriad possibilities for efficient teaching, learning, research and community engagement rather than letting growth manage the university.”

The university plans to pilot WebCT Vista this summer and go into production by fall.

About the University of Florida
Founded in 1853, the University of Florida is a major public, comprehensive, land-grant, research university. The state’s oldest, largest and most comprehensive university, Florida is among the nation’s most academically diverse public universities. Now serving more than 48,000 students, Florida has a long history of established programs in international education, research and service. It is one of only 17 public, land-grant universities that belong to the Association of American Universities.

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