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  OIT Home > Committees > ITPG > 2003 Proposals > Campus Course Management System
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Campus Course Management System

  Project Name:   Campus Course Management System

Project Proposal Originators:   Alan Moses, L&S; Stan Nicholson, OIC

Project Implementers:   This project would in the longer term best be implemented as campus-wide instructional infrastructure, for which there is no single current responsible organization. For the immediate future, units with appropriate expertise could be used to move the project toward operational status, but could do so in ways that permit relatively easy migration of the functions to whatever organization(s), in whatever structure, are determined to be best for the campus.

Given our distributed environment, there are three different functions that could be separated (with close coordination): project management, system implementation and hosting, and user consultation and support. Project management will be led by LSIT and OIC, in conjunction with the hosting unit. Initial hosting could be done most easily at LSIT or IC, but SAIS and IS&C also are potential host organizations; each could bring different peripheral resources to the table. Wherever the system is initially housed, it should be implemented in a way that could be easily relocated if a more appropriate organizational home is determined. Pedagogical consultation and user support would be provided by OIC and LSIT, in coordination with the faculty support groups from each participating academic area.

Project Beneficiaries:   UCSB instructional mission; in particular, faculty using the web in support of instruction, and units supporting that activity. Potential for broader impact as a general portal framework for delivery of personalized tools to students and possibly other campus constituent groups.

Problem Statement

Faculty who are interested in using the web in support of instruction, but who are not interested in investing their time in learning about the underlying technologies, currently have limited options for incorporating web technologies into their instructional efforts. Even for faculty enthusiasts, resources are scarce, and common issues such as authenticated access and integration of their web site with other student systems are difficult to implement on a site-by-site basis. This proposal has three primary targets:

  • To provide a standard set of web-based tools to accomplish a varied set of common pedagogical goals.
  • To provide a framework for cost-effective development of specific tools.
  • To realize the efficiencies of a centralized implementation of web-based course tools.

Project Summary

This project calls for UCSB's active participation in the SAKAI Educational Partners Program (SEPP) as the means for implementing a campus-wide Course Management System. Although SAKAI should be evaluated with the same scrutiny as any product intended for a production system, the design philosophy and commitments of the current SAKAI participants make this a highly promising solution for UCSB's Course Management System needs. (If evaluation resulted in identifying critical problems with SAKAI, the evaluation process would proceed by looking at alternative products, and the implementation component of this project would be the same, using a different product.) The set of web-based tools currently being designed into SAKAI include: authentication and access control (including provisions for anonymous access and public viewing); schedules/calendar of classes, assignments, and events; syllabi and general course info; announcements and notifications; assignments (calendar); drop box; online resources (documents and tools); assessment tools; web-based file storage; webpage creation tools; news feeds (RSS); discussion forums; synopses of active discussions; email lists and archives; chat; site search; and site administration. The creation of additional tools and integration with other information systems would be accomplished using the uPortal portal environment, JSR 168 portlet standards, OKI service interface definitions, and other standards-based tools integrated within the SAKAI environment. (For more detailed information on SAKAI, see Appendix II.)

Becoming a member of SEPP requires a three year commitment of $10,000 per year. The evaluation and implementation of this project will initially require 1.5FTE (permanent). One FTE at the CNT III level will have responsibility for the technical evaluation of SAKAI versus alternative commercial Course Management Systems, the installation, configuration, and testing of SAKAI components, the design and implementation of a production service, and the integration of SAKAI with campus middleware and data sources. Once a production service is in place, the time previously spent on pre-implementation tasks (e.g., evaluation) will be shifted to the development and coordination of specific modules within the SAKAI framework. An additional .5 FTE at the CNT III level will have responsibility for coordinating faculty input into the product evaluation process, identifying and supporting pilot projects, establishing metrics for evaluation of instructional impact, and coordinating support for the production service. Hosting will be provided by an existing campus web hosting service provider; training and support will be provided by existing training and support providers.

UCSB Visionary Requirements

Campus investments in instruction have traditionally been implemented at a very local level. As a campus-wide baseline instructional service, this project lends itself to being considered as part of the emerging consensus for centrally-implemented core services. It could be implemented within the framework of existing distributed organizations, but a more visionary approach would see it as "instructional infrastructure," a view that would benefit from some campus administration endorsement.

Costs and Benefits

  • Campus participation as Educational Partner in SAKAI ($10K/yr X 3 yrs).
  • 1 FTE implementation, tool development, and technical coordination, located within the unit providing system hosting ($53.5K = 12% into CNT III).
  • .5 FTE pedagogical support and faculty coordination and communication, located in OIC ($27K = 12% into CNT III @ 50%).
  • Application development software licenses, training, and S&E ($5000 initial cost, ongoing funding to become part of operational budget of hosting unit)

Total: $80,500 ongoing plus $35,000 over three years.

Benefits would primarily be measured in improvements in instruction and more efficient use of support staff for discipline-based development and consultation rather than web infrastructure. For example, Instructional Improvement Grants would not need to recreate infrastructure for each project, allowing more pedagogically focused investments by that funding process.

Matching Opportunities

Hosting, support, and training costs would be absorbed by units currently providing those services.

Project Timeline

The SAKAI project has set a target of Fall 2005 for production implementations at the core campuses (U. Mich., Indiana U., MIT, and Stanford), with pilot implementations in place for Fall 2004. A full year of pilot testing of both the application and the necessary support structures seems appropriate for this sort of tool, especially since UCSB, unlike most of the other participant campuses, does not have a current Course Management System in place. Allowing for six months of pre-pilot development, the timeline for this project would target a CMS implementation 18 months after the FTE for this purpose have been funded and hired.

The development of detailed milestones for this project would be the responsibility of the staff assigned to the project.

Project Priority

Without this project, in two years UCSB will be exactly where it is now in the use of the web for instruction: some excellent individual projects, funded inefficiently to recreate infrastructure on a per-project basis, with no commonly available tools for faculty to use to support their instructional goals, and with no common interface for students to access online instructional tools and services. We are currently an outlier among our cohort institutions; Gartner is no longer even asking campuses if they have a CMS because it is so ubiquitous. Timely funding for this project is a requirement for UCSB to be in any way competitive in this area.

CMS Appendix I: Background at UCSB

CMS Appendix II: Sakai Project Summary

Back to Proposals Index

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