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March 8, 2018carrierweb.png

Big changes coming for VikingWeb

Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

VikingWeb.jpg
PHOTOS COURTESY OF PENNY EVANS-PLANT
The new VikingWeb will include an updated "My Courses" page for teachers and students. Above is an example of the new layout of VikingWeb.

Within the next couple of weeks, there are going to be some changes to Vikingweb. 

It’s not going away; the only change happening to VikingWeb is going to be the “My Courses” tab. This tab has caused frustrations for both faculty and students. 

The actual change occurring to VikingWeb is to the Learning Management System (LMS) that the “My Courses” tab runs on. 

“We the committee, have been considering two primary options; that is, Canvas and Brightspace,” Penny Evans-Plant, Chief Information Officer, said. 

The committee, made up of faculty members and IT department specialists, has been trying to figure out which of the two systems will better serve the campus. As of right now, the committee is in discussion about the two systems. 

“We are still in the space of trying to figure out what are the pros and what are the cons [of each system],” Evans-Plant said. 

Over spring break, the committee will have the opportunity to test the two systems and figure out which one will work better. Whichever system gets chosen will have the same impacts on the “My Courses” tab. 

The final decision about which system to use will be made in May. It will be live this fall, but a “parallel” will be run. A small group of faculty members will use the new system, while the rest of the faculty will use the old system.

“We do this so there will not be a huge confusion for the students,” Evans-Plant said. 

Having both systems running at the same time allows for the students to figure out how to use the new one, while still having the comfort of the old system. During the spring of next year, the new system will be open to any faculty member that chooses to switch. By the summer of 2019, everyone will have to be on the new system. 

There are a few distinct advantages that come with the change of systems, according to Evans-Plant. Right now, a lot of faculty members choose to use a third-party publisher when it comes to text books and assignments for students, like MyMathLab and ALEKS. Currently, under the “My Courses” tab, professors that use the third-party publisher cannot sync their grades with VikingWeb; everything has to be manually entered into VikingWeb. The new system will allow for this sync to happen. So, once a student completes an assignment on a third-party publishing site, it will do a grade return into VikingWeb’s gradebook. 

Another advantage for the new system is called “inline grading”. Right now, in the old system, when a student turns a paper into VikingWeb, the professor has to upload the paper as a Word document. Then they have to make the corrections and notes in Word. After that, they have to re-upload it and send it to the student who submitted it. With the new system, the professor will be able to make notes and corrections all in one place on VikingWeb. 

The committee also hopes to update the “Discussion” aspect of VikingWeb, allowing for professors to create groups, send messages to the group and assign grades to the group personally. 

Currently, trying to get onto VikingWeb from a phone isn’t quite possible. With the new system, the committee hopes to either have an app, or a mobile-friendly page so VikingWeb can be accessible on mobile devices. 

A lot of change is going on with VikingWeb, but with change comes new possibilities for students and the faculty to use VikingWeb more efficiently and effectively.

“We want this to be a successful and exciting launch for people, therefore we have to be careful how we roll it out,” Evans-Plant said.

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