EduCat Replaces WebCT


The winter semester ushered in a major milestone in the move to the new Moodle-powered NMU EduCat™ course management system. Almost all courses in session that use a CMS have been migrated from WebCT, according to Matt Smock (Instructional Design and Technology). The only exceptions are a few taught by soon-to-be retiring faculty members who weren't required to convert to EduCat for their final semester.

WebCT remains only for reference in the event isolated files were lost in translation. It will disappear completely after the academic year.

“This is a significant project and it’s taken some time to work through,” said Smock. “We’ve had to review the course offerings and discard duplicates and those taught by either faculty who have retired or by graduate assistants who’ve left the university. Our CITE student employees have been working hard on migrations since last June, and Tom Gillespie, our instructional technologist, has done a great job coordinating their efforts."


Migration is a manual process. Files for each individual course are downloaded from WebCT, then uploaded to EduCat. Discussion forums, assignments and related activities need to be recreated. Of the estimated 2,500 course sections requiring migration, more than half are complete. Those remaining are summer courses and others that have not been offered since the changeover began.


“For faculty using EduCat, there’s been a learning curve, as you would expect with any new system, but by and large the response has been positive. It’s an open-source system and we’ve introduced a few enhancements this semester,” Smock said.


The enhancements include collapsible topics to reduce the amount of page scrolling, an equation editor for math and science applications to replace a similar version available on WebCT, and a separate EduCat archive server.


“We didn’t have this capability with WebCT, but the server will give faculty and students read-only access to the materials for two years after the course is held,” Smock said.


Another addition is a poll feature on the EduCat “My Courses” page. Only visible to instructors, it gathers feedback used in prioritizing enhancements and making decisions about system settings. The first poll last semester asked for input on the default review options for quizzes, which control when students can see their scores and the correct answers.


Smock said benefits of EduCat over WebCT include a custom-designed home page that offers increased flexibility and integration with the library’s electronic course reserves system. He said video tutorials are also available. For more information, visit EduCat.



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Updated: January 20, 2011

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