Desperately Seeking Hrabanus Maurus: WebCT and the Web

WebCT, like Blackboard and Jenzabar, is a content-management tool for online education. It sets up a password-protected space where students and teachers can present their materials. Laura Gibbs writes: “[O]ne of the major themes of the WebCT presentation was that ‘you don’t need a website anymore – not like you used to!’. Hmmmmm….. since when is it a good thing to give up your website? I understand wanting better tools to manage your website, tools to make it less time-consuming, tools to make your website more useful, tools to integrate your website with other kinds of technologies beyond the desktop monitor. That would be great! | But why on earth would we want to reduce the number of websites and hide our work behind the walls of WebCT?”

Desperately Seeking Hrabanus Maurus: WebCT and the WebXPlana)

While I can see the value of letting students post rough drafts of their work in protected areas, I too am troubled by the idea that much pedagogical work of great value ends up buried. Still, there are a few web-searching exercises that I will never post online, since I don’t want my own web pages to get noticed by search engines and thus affect the results. But the most important reason is probably that most faculty don’t feel they have much to gain by posting their work online, other than the psychological benefits of seeing your work pop up elsewhere on the Internet. A pedagogical website is a black hole; the time I spend working on my website takes away from the time I might otherwise spend crafting and honing a lecture, or preparing a PowerPoint show; students appreciate it at 4am, but they are just as likely to fault it because it doesn’t repeat everything you say in class: “That wasn’t on the website, so I didn’t know we had to know that.”