Web Course Tools

WebCT, as the article A Brief Overview of WebCT, suggests, is another online course management system used for online education. In 1995, the WebCT was started to be developed by Murray Goldberg, a Computer Science Instructor at the University of British Columbia together with a team of undergraduate students. This course management system comprises an integrated set of educational tools for creating and managing an online course environment. The term WebCT is an acronym for Web Course Tools. It is considered to be the first commercially successful practical learning environment.

Unlike Moodle, this is sold primarily to universities and colleges. The company owner of the WebCT determines the price of the software to be sold to educational institutions based on its size and how it is used (2001). WebCT has been criticized for its difficulty in using compared to other course management systems. However, this may be due to the flexibility of the e-learning environment that WebCT provides, in its aim of achieving faculty empowerment, student outcomes and administrative efficiency. Blackboard (Blackboard Academic Suite)

Blackboard is also the leading provider of enterprise software and services to the education industry. Blackboard was established in 1997 with a vision of helping the educators make education available through the internet. Its clients include colleges and universities and other education providers including the textbook publishers which serve students and educators. Blackboard’s products are five software applications packed in two suites—the Blackboard Academic Suite (TM) and the Blackboard Commerce Suite (2008). Blackboard and WebCT merged

In February 2006, WebCT and Blackboard merged into a single unit. News regarding this merging event argues that Blackboard bought WebCT which is the first’s competitor in the commercial sales of the educational online tools. Both the Blackboard and the WebCT satrated and pioneered the e-Learning revolution, leaving the Moodle behind (2006). Though together, the developers of these two course management systems are improving the Blackboard, specifically the Blackboard Academic Suite and the WebCT separately. Thus, the two still differ in several features and are subjects fro comparisons.

According to Blackboard press release, Blackboard plans to improve and give support to the existing products being handled by both the Blackboard and the WebCT. The combined company, then, will focus on the new release and the ongoing software maintenance for both companies. Over the period of the merging of these two big online education tool provider, Blackboard will incorporate the best characteristics and main features from the two products to create a new, highly standardized products that will feature the use of flexible web services (2006).

With the emerging educational business and the increasing usage of these institutional management systems, this study aims at comparing the main features being offered by these three giants Course Management Systems. This research study also aims to evaluate the usage of the above-mentioned systems and compare which are mainly use by the instructors and students who are mainly the subscribers or users of the said educational tools. Methodology

In order to determine which Course Management Systems—Moodle, WebCT and Balckboard—are highly used and recommended, a survey was conducted to 40 people who mainly are the instructors, who are the usual users of these online systems. The subjects or the samples were considered using a probability sampling technique or the random sampling, which according to an article “Probability Sampling” of the Web Center for Social Research Methods, is any sampling technique that makes use of the random selection. In this manner, some processes or procedures are utilized to assure that the samples of the population are being chosen with same probabilities.

Specifically, the researcher used the Proportionate Stratified Random Sampling, which is defined as the random sampling that involves the division of the population into similar subgroups and then proceeding to the simple random technique, which is simply getting the samples from the divided subgroups, wherein these subgroups have the same number or fractions of samples. In this study, the researcher considered the college faculty as the population of the study, specifically the author considered the 40 college instructors as the samples.

Using the Proportionate Stratified Random Sampling, the 40 samples were divided equally into two; the new instructors and the old instructors. From the set of new instructors, the researcher considered the respondents who have been in the educational service for at least two semesters prior to the survey date. Nonetheless, the old instructors have been into teaching for so many years as of the survey date. Through a survey using a questionnaire entitled “Evaluation of the Three Course Management Systems (CMS): Moodle, WebCT and Blackboard”, the preference of the samples was attested.

Several criteria were posed in order to ensure the precision of the results. A comparison using three scales—poor, good and excellent—was used in evaluating the quality of the CMS’s involved. The data were collected and analyzed. To help in the analysis, the author also used graphs and tables to clearly show the comparisons of the findings. Through this research with the utilization of a survey questionnaire, a conclusion supporting the results was made indicating which is highly used by the majority of the instructors used as samples in this survey.