In an effort to increase the availability of class materials and student-professor communication, many classes this semester are using CourseTools, the University”s software that enables professors to create webpages where students have access to syllabi, homework and class resources.
Glenda Radine, assistant director of communications and events at the Media Union, said that 1,517 CourseTools sites were published this fall, 937 more than last fall.
In the Fall 2000 semester, 42.7 percent of all students used course tools for one class or more. This semester that percentage rose to 63.3. Those who use CourseTools use it rather frequently, Radine said.
“All of these students visit CourseTools at least once a week,” she said.
French Prof. Pamela Bogart said she uses CourseTools to avoid an overload of paper and to make it easier for her students to share material.
“Students can see each other”s work, and they won”t have to turn in 30 pages at the end of the term,” Bogart said. “Also, they don”t have to wait to come to class to get their grades.”
Some students who use the software have found it a convenient alternative to actually attending class.
“I missed class for two weeks and still managed to stay ahead with CourseTools,” said LSA sophomore Karl Hinburg.
Despite its advantages, not all students and professors find CourseTools efficient.
“You can”t make revisions once you post an assignment,” said LSA junior George Khouri.
Physics Prof. Gus Evrard said he uses the physics department server instead of CourseTools.
“My large introductory course requires a functionality beyond CourseTools,” Evrard said. “Our server allows for an individualized automated home work system.”
Though more professors are using the Internet, they don”t think it will replace the need for books.
“Students still need physical materials, because reading off a computer is not too healthy,” Bogart said.
While many students appreciate the convenience an online course site offers, many still see the fundamentals of classroom activity to be necessary.
“CourseTools can”t ever be a substitute for classroom discussions,” said Megan Stohner, an LSA sophomore.