ESC, etc.: Meet Your New CourseWorks, CULPA
Written by Bwog Staff
Fu Foundation Bureau Chief Sean Zimmermann attended tonight’s ESC meeting. Exciting changes to your Internet are afoot!
The ESC meeting this week was dominated by two website presentations. CUIT previewed the “Next Gen CourseWorks” named Sakai, while two sophomores previewed their new website ColumbiaClasses.com, which aims to be a replacement for CULPA and Columbia’s own course information pages.
Bwog was particularly impressed with Sakai, the arrival of which has been in the works since May. The site looks easier to navigate than CourseWorks and fixes some of the more archaic parts of CourseWorks system, for example file management. Here are some of the key features:
- Over 100 other schools use Sakai, including Yale, Hopkins, Stanford, and MIT.
- Has large focus on collaboration (wikis, blogs, podcasts, calendars, document sharing)
- Will integrate well with existing systems, and can be customized for Columbia.
- Could be deployed as early as Fall ’09. There will be a time when some courses are on Sakai and others on CourseWorks, but CUIT said it would be “as seamless as possible.”
- CUIT is currently trying to raise support throughout the university and is asking for student representatives to sit on an Advisory Committee to oversee the deployment of the new system.
- Biggest Improvements:
- Individuals get their own personalized area (called “My Workspace”) where students have their own calendar that has info from all classes, and can sync with Palm/iPhone/Blackberry/Computer.
- New File Management System (can add links, text documents, etc), directly from the webpage. Can also create citation lists and search for articles using Google Scholar directly through Sakai.
- Groups can request Sakai sites (like courses) so their members can collaborates.
ColumbiaClasses aims to create an officially sanctioned website that has all the information of the College Bulletin, but also allows student to rate and review professors.
Bwog liked the system; it had some very interesting features, for instance, it could recommend courses based on ones you have already taken and enjoyed. However, in order for the system to be sanctioned by the University, it must be moderated. Users must sign-in to the system to see or post information. Though ratings and signed reviews (where the reviewer leaves his username public) are un-moderated, anonymous reviews are subject to moderator approval, and can be rejected. Users can also anonymously add their grade, so the site can show an average grade for the course (assuming enough people post).
- Required login makes it so only members of the community are the only ones that can view data, so the school doesn’t have to worry about posting official information being posted (subject to approval), some teachers’ official university evaluations will be available on their rating page).
- Feedback network between students, professors, and administration.
- Replace CULPA
- Create more valid data set
- Rating breakdown
- Average grade feature
- Class Recommendations
- Browse for classes by subject, school, or department
- Site does not take commission.