Since September 2005, a standard course website has been ‘pre-built’ for each of the over 1,000 sections of the annual course offerings of the Atkinson Faculty of York University. The standard website provides a simple, uniform web presence consisting of a course description, the course outline and links to York libraries, technical support, information on examinations and university policies. Automated procedures give students access to the websites. Faculty use tools bundled with the websites to email students and conveniently turn on and off optional features such as announcement postings, content pages, asynchronous discussions, and links to WebCT, publisher websites, and faculty websites. Faculty members also choose which, if any, of the optional features, are restricted to registered students. Over half of the 400 faculty members have opted to ‘turn-on’ at least one of the optional features and have added content, links, or online collaborative functionality to enhance the simple web presence. While the optional features are extensive and robust, the websites are not intended to be a substitute for a learning management system: detailed student tracking is not supported and there are strict limits on the extent to which website navigation and design may be customized. This paper will examine the implications of adopting a standardized approach for website use, faculty workload, infrastructure costs, support, training, reporting and collection of metrics to inform procedures, policies and future website developments. The conclusion reached, based on the Atkinson experience, is that even when learning management systems are used, the benefits of ‘pre-building’ a standard course website for every class far outweigh the costs.
|Keywords:||E-learning, E-learning Management, Website Design, Learning Management Systems, Online Learning|
Lecturer, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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