WebCT vs. UBC Blogs

As many classmates may agree, switching from the WebCT format used in a majority of MET program courses to the current UBC blog has been a subtle shift from the usual way of posting and responding to others.  Which of the two offer a preferred educational experience, similar to what we as teachers can provide our k-12 students, will be determined by examining the pros and cons of each.  Perhaps others can add their own ideas to this post.

Going against the flow?

Starting with WebCT, modules are presented for the entire course, along with other course related resources, such as the assignment dropbox.  The main feature is the discussion thread, which can be expanded to include every response to a topic, or targeted so that a student can quickly look at current replies to one’s own posts.  individual students stand out.  However, about a month after the end of the course, all of the information disappears (or goes we know not where) and while it is possible to save an entire thread of discussions, it is usually formatted in in .txt, which may not be able retain rich text, hypertext links or font changes.  Also, often the My Grade do not get updated, making it an unnecessary feature for WebCT.

Two schools of thought

As we have discovered with the ETEC 522 blog, there are several improvements to class discussion: daily updates can be sent to your e-mail, discussion threaded from each post while all of the course material can be reached through hyperlinks.  One improvement, yet to be used so far are the video comments option in our response boxes.  All in all, the blog format we use for this course looks snazzier, and as Prof. Vogt points out in his Reverberations in the Blogosphere post, what we write here has a chance of being read by people not enrolled in the course, a ripple effect months or even years after the course ends.  Some disadvantages with this way of blogging are that it is more difficult to keep track of changes or comments on posts, once someone’s post has be bumped down to an Older Posts page, it is less likely to be looked at as e-mail updates do not name who is posting what, only referred to as the collective ETEC 522 instead of individual students.

Movin' on upstream

For all things considered, I would rather use the WebCT format in k-12 classrooms, as it seems to be easier to regulate, and like Moodle, designed for classroom use.  While this UBC blog format presents more of a “real-world” (or a Product-Based Learning) experience with blogging, for a class of students with varying prior computing knowledge, WebCT’s structure provides more guidance.  Perhaps keeping a “school of fish” in a small pond like WebCT offers more security before releasing them into the big ocean of information known as the blogosphere.

Posted in: Week 07: Blogs