CourseSites is becoming a more widely-used learning management system in the university’s classrooms as OpenClass has proven to be difficult in navigation for professors and students.
Berlin Fang, director of instructional design for the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning, said more faculty members are beginning to adopt CourseSites outside of the university’s computer system.
“CourseSites is not exactly a replacement of OpenClass,” he said. “The Provost’s Office has consulted various stakeholders on campus and then decided to bring CourseSites alongside OpenClass as an alternative.”
CourseSites is a cloud-based learning management system that is supported by Blackboard, a site the university used in the past.
“There are tradeoffs for using either one of them,” Fang said. “For instance, OpenClass has a rather simple, minimalist interface which may appeal to some users. And OpenClass is supported locally as an enterprise solution. CourseSites is a cloud-based, decentralized solution similar to Blackboard that some faculty may be familiar with.”
As the Optimist reported in August, the university made the switch to OpenClass to save money because it allowed free use. ACU’s Adams Center collaborated with the developers of the site to “update the system and provide additional services and upgrades for the future.”
However, despite the additional work being done on the site, it remains difficult to navigate for some professors and its gradebook system is too simplistic for some.
Unfortunately, CourseSites cannot be integrated with other parts of the university infrastructure, making it difficult to be used campus-wide, Fang said.
The Adams Center Instructional Design Team explained the situation in more detail on the center’s blog.
“As each account will be associated with an individual URL for each instructor, there is no way to integrate these varied accounts with our student management system,” it said. “Therefore, instructors will need to set up their own accounts, enroll students and get the course started.”
To enroll in a class, students must create their own accounts, so professors can “invite” them into the course.
The Adams Center is offering advice and instruction to professors wanting to use the program, and encourage anyone struggling with the site to look at the Adams Center blog for help.
“I cannot tell at this point how many faculty members will move to CourseSites,” Fang said, “but the Adams Center is preparing for faculty training sessions through December and early January.”