WebCT@UCT: Spotlight On - Jenny Whittal of the Department of Geomatics

07 April 2003
Jenny Whittal, from Geomatics, first used WebCT for her first semester introductory surveying course for about 90 students from Construction Management, Civil Engineering and Geomatics in 2001.

The needs driving the course were:
  • Student accessibility to resources
  • Simplify administration and communication with students
  • Encourage deep learning rather than superficial learning
  • Encourage an exploratory learning environment without boundaries
  • Facilitate student initiated communication amongst students and between demonstrators/lecturers
"In a student survey in 2001 more than 90% of the students cited enjoyment and satisfaction in interacting with the courseware, finding WebCT effective and user-friendly, and the course well-structured." Based on the experience and recommendations, refinements were made.

"Now my WebCT environments are close to maturity in terms of the delivery of supplementary course material. I am still to explore the use of online assessment."

"Typical information available is:
  • Detailed course information, timetables, photographs of lecturers with contact details
  • Calendar into which students can add their own items
  • Full set of lecture notes, overhead slides and articles relating to lecture topics
  • Surveying camp details
  • Test and examination results: accessed from off campus (even from other countries during vacs)
  • All practical handouts and additional practical task information: facilitates adequate pre-practical preparation
  • Voluntary tutorials: given with answers and designed to be performed at the same pace as lectures and prior to performance of a related practical task.
  • Links to relevant and fun Internet sites: encouraging the use of the Internet for non-web-literate students in a safe learning environment.
  • Past exam and test papers.
"Other services of WebCT that I use:
  • Discussions: Students ask questions, and my full response to a student benefits the whole class and is available for the duration of the course
  • Mail: contact with students from different programmes is facilitated through the mail function. Students check their WebCT mail and the discussions regularly. This is also used to inform students of any change to the WebCT content.
  • Personal touch: I have added some personal information such as pictures of my children. Interestingly, this has improved student-lecturer communication and encouraged at least one student who has left children far away to come and study at UCT."
"In conclusion, I have found the use of WebCT for my teaching has significantly reduced my course administration load (I can refer most routine queries to WebCT), and improved communication between myself and a diverse group of students. It has made possible the delivery of far more additional information to the student (without increasing the course content) and has provided an innovative and supportive learning environment."

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