Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Evaluating the Effectiveness of WebCT Using Student Feedback

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Evaluating the Effectiveness of WebCT Using Student Feedback

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

It is readily becoming apparent that with the advancement of instructional technology in education the teaching duties of the college professor are changing. Technological developments like the World Wide Web, CD-ROMs, Web Course Tool (WebCT) and other multimedia tools are clearly new means for teaching and learning. For example, in business education technology instruction has become an integral part of the instructional process. Its goal has been to create learning environments that are flexible, dynamic, and capable of responding to a wide variety of individual needs and learning styles through the use of media, personnel and actual experience (Lu, et al. 2003). Most important, WebCT courses open new educational access to nontraditional and geographically dispersed students. Their setting provides a level of flexibility and convenience not provided by traditional classroom courses.

WebCT was developed in the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. A course developed using WebCT is organized around one main homepage. This homepage is the entry point for the course. It can contain, among other things, a banner image, a textual message, links to course content elements, and links to course tools. While there is only one main homepage, there can be any number of subsidiary homepages called tool pages.

WebCT provides structure, interactivity, and course tools. However, an instructor can also provide supplemental course content that can be accessed and used via the course tools. These course tools can be accessed through an icon from any of the course Web pages. Examples of tools include a conferencing system, timed quiz, grade storage and distribution, e-mail between course participants, student self-evaluation, student presentation areas, student annotation facility, student progress tracking, course glossary, and index. The progress tracking, student management, and access control tools can also be used.

Many educators have recognized the potential of using WebCT for instruction. One of the most powerful elements of WebCT is the ability to engage students in an interactive format (Moore and Kearsley, 1996). Web-based pedagogy tends to reverse traditional teaching dynamics by making the instructor less present and increasing the interactive and leadership roles of the learners. Highly motivated and confident learners respond well to this self-directed format, and they are the most likely to benefit from education (Lau, 2000).

With the use of WebCT students can be involved in various types of communication tools such as mail, bulletins, and chat rooms. They can also practice their knowledge by using interactive quizzes and tests that are created by both professors and publishers. The learning progress can be monitored through the use of progress tools. The use of online course calendars and easily accessible syllabi help keep students on schedule of class assignments.

The paper argues that pedagogical improvement in a traditional learning environment can be successfully achieved by the use of technology where business courses are taught with the use of WebCT as a complementary teaching instrument. The potential of using technology for instruction is demonstrated with the use of WebCT-based instruction in a business undergraduate program.

In order to illustrate the benefits from the use of WebCT in business education, the authors conducted a survey study. Undergraduate business students provided feedback on their level of satisfaction within various WebCT tools such as: communication tools, course content, test and quizzes, syllabus and progress tools. This study seeks to determine whether students are satisfied with using various WebCT tools including E-mail, bulletin board, syllabus, calendar, progress tool and chat room. We are interested in determining whether difference exist in students' satisfaction of WebCT coursework in such areas as stimulating intellectual efforts, developing more professional responsibilities and better technological skills and competencies, and working harder than other courses within the business college. …

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