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WebCT: Will the future of online education be user friendly?

Tama Leaver
English, Communication and Cultural Studies, The University of Western Australia
In 2003, the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at The University of Western Australia will cease using The Forum, our in-house developed online education delivery system and will shift to the popular American online education delivery suite, WebCT (Web Course Tools). The process of migrating to a new online education environment is an ideal moment to ask some important questions about WebCT and the implications this delivery system holds for online education in a more general sense.

I stress that this paper is not intended as an exhaustive critique or how to guide for WebCT course creation. Rather, this paper narrates the two levels of engagement I have experienced thus far with WebCT. Firstly, I will describe my initial reactions to the WebCT suite itself as it is set up at the University of Western Australia. This engagement will include concerns about both the structure of the program, and the underlying architecture of student and teacher interaction. Secondly, I will analyse WebCT as a corporate entity and discuss issues raised from a close reading of elements of the WebCT homepage, the marketing strategy, and the directions that WebCT as a suite is heading according to their 'white paper' on future developments. In the course of this analysis, I will offer a framework to consider whether WebCT is an ideal technological partner in the teaching process, or whether it unavoidably closes avenues of learning.

Please cite as: Leaver, T. (2003). WebCT: Will the future of online education be user friendly? In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/leaver-abs.html

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Last revision: 15 Jan 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/leaver-abs.html