WebCT Cites University System of Georgia Courses As Exemplary
ATLANTA – The outstanding quality of the University System of Georgia’s eCore™ courses has been recognized by WebCT, an international firm that provides course management software to support colleges and universities’ on-line learning.
Independent evaluators designated four new USG freshmen and sophomore distance-learning offerings as WebCT Exemplary Courses. The award-winning courses represented a sampling of the eight eCore™ courses (which meet USG core-curriculum academic requirements) first offered last semester. Two additional on-line offerings developed separately by faculty members at Georgia College and State University also met what the company refers to as the “gold standard” in higher education e-learning.
“We couldn’t be more pleased,” said Dr. Kris Biesinger, assistant vice chancellor for advanced learning technologies for the University System of Georgia. “The rigorous criteria used to select the WebCT Exemplary Courses validate the University System’s collaborative course-development process, which involves many individuals and results in quality, accessible, interactive on-line courses.”
Biesinger added that the selection of six USG courses for this international honor “recognizes the valuable investment the System has made in preparing faculty to utilize technology successfully in the development of meaningful educational experiences.”
The WebCT Exemplary Course Project spotlights courses that make the most of the on-line learning environment, whether they are web-enhanced classroom activities or classes taught only online. The project was launched last year by two university professors: Dr. David Graf, executive director of technology at the Fischler Graduate School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University in Miami, Fla., and Ms. Maisie Caines, WebCT faculty development specialist at College of the North Atlantic in Newfoundland.
This year, 16 courses offered by colleges, universities, K-12 schools and businesses around the world received the WebCT Exemplary Course designation on the basis of academic rigor and content robustness. A total of 85 courses were nominated for the honor. No other institution, school district or business had multiple courses selected for inclusion.
“Virtually the only thing the WebCT 2001 Exemplary Courses have in common is their exceptional use of technology to deliver academic excellence,” said Carol Vallone, president and CEO of WebCT. “Otherwise, they couldn’t be more different: they cover subjects ranging from music to mathematical modeling and come from large public institutions and small private colleges all over the world.”
The USG eCore™ courses earning the distinction of WebCT Exemplary Courses included American Government, English Composition I, Mathematical Modeling and Survey of U.S. History to 1865. Each course was developed by a team of six faculty members from a variety of USG institutions and was evaluated for exemplary status independent of the others. Also named exemplary courses were two Georgia College and State University on-line offerings – Informatics Issues and Applications for Health Care Delivery developed by Jeanne Sewell and Leadership and Management in Healthcare Services developed by Deborah J. Clark. Both women are assistant professors of health care systems and informatics at GC&SU.
The University System initiative called Georgia G.L.O.B.E. (Global Learning Online for Business and Education) is marketing four additional eCore™ courses that will be available this summer. So far, 73 faculty members from 23 institutions have participated in developing and teaching eCore™ courses.
Among the criteria the WebCT Exemplary Course Project’s faculty evaluators looked for were strong indications that courses:
- were as demanding as traditionally taught courses with similar content;
- encouraged critical thinking;
- made students apply the knowledge or skills they learned in realistic and relevant ways;
- made appropriate and exceptional use of WebCT’s features;
- encouraged students to use available tools such as discussion groups and e-mail to interact with each other and the instructor; and
- relied on a variety of methods for student assessment.
“I have found that students in my eCore™ course have achieved a depth of understanding of the material that I generally do not find in my face-to-face classes,” said Floyd College Assistant Professor of History Robert Page, whose Survey of U.S. History to 1865 course drew students from all over the state last semester. “What we seek in our regular classes is for our students to be prepared and involved in the learning process. I think the on-line classes provide an exceptional environment for success in achieving that goal.”
WebCT has invited University System representatives to present papers and participate in panel discussions at its Third Annual Users Conference, to be held in Vancouver in June. An audio-visual presentation on the winning courses featuring interviews with course creators will be shown at the conference. In addition, portions of the courses will be featured on the company’s website (www.webct.com), and the course creators have been invited to participate in on-line discussions about their work.