George Mason Becomes WebCT Institute

Posted: August 8, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Emily Yaghmour

Thanks to the work of staff members in the Instructional Resource Center (IRC), George Mason has been selected to join a consortium of colleges and universities that serve as WebCT Institutes. Created by educators at the University of British Columbia, WebCT is a software package that educators can use to apply online educational tools in their courses.

WebCT can be used to develop online quizzes, set up chat rooms and bulletin boards for class participants, link to online resources related to course content, and more. It does not require great technical expertise, such as the ability to use HTML coding and Java scripts.

As a WebCT Institute, George Mason will serve as a regional center to train educators to use WebCT to develop educational tools appropriate for their courses. The training provided by IRC staff members to George Mason faculty and students will continue to be free of charge, but there may be a charge to individuals from outside the university, says Jerry Drake of IRC.

Two years ago, George Mason acquired a license for WebCT, and Sharon Widmayer and Cindy McCourt of IRC developed online materials to train Mason faculty members to use WebCT. “It was the quality of those materials that attracted the attention of WebCT,” says Drake.

Originally, 14 U.S. colleges and universities, including the University of Maryland at College Park, were selected to serve as WebCT Institutes. George Mason is the only WebCT Institute in Virginia. “Our nomination and acceptance as a WebCT Institute is a tribute to the excellent work done by the IRC in developing WebCT resources,” says Anne Agee, executive director of the Department of Instructional Improvement and Instructional Technologies.

Becoming a WebCT Institute gives the university access to additional WebCT resources and opens up possibilities for networking with other institutions, says Agee. “We look forward to a productive relationship with WebCT as we move forward with our upgrade this year to the newest version,” she says.

Last spring, 73 faculty members, a majority of whom serve in the College of Arts and Sciences, used WebCT to develop online materials and tools for more than100 courses, says Drake.

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