Given the rapidly increasing demand for online course delivery, SCSU needs to assure a stable and robust instructional management system (IMS) for the campus. In Fall 1998, a group within LR&TS began working with WebCT as an IMS. The software was set up on a server, and a pool of faculty was recruited to test WebCT with classes in Spring 1999. Within a year, 55 faculty were developing or offering classes involving 1,177 students through WebCT. By Fall 2000, these numbers had increased to 65 active courses with 5,148 students; two years later, in Fall 2002, approximately 200 SCSU courses involving more than 8,000 students were offered using WebCT. WebCT is currently used to deliver some entirely online courses although most instructors use WebCT to enhance traditional on-campus classes. Combined, these two approaches result in classes affecting over half of the student population of SCSU.
Although WebCT is the IMS supported on SCSU's campus, it is not the only IMS used. Some faculty use Anlon or Blackboard. Other faculty use systems they have designed themselves with the IMS features they need. Still others use publishers’ sites that provide the portion of the IMS that they want to use. Clearly, an IMS has become an important resource for course delivery at SCSU.
WebCT requires an annual license fee and a dedicated server, both initially funded by LR&TS. Beginning in October 2000, MnSCU provided funding for its three-year IMS initiative; through that, SCSU received $199,788 for instructional support for WebCT, which was used to upgrade the WebCT server and to create a server administrator position to provide greater IMS support on campus. SCSU has continued the license through August 2004.
This year MnSCU has been reviewing whether it will provide any future funding or support for an IMS for campus instructional use and, if so, what platform(s) it will support. MnSCU may choose to support a single IMS platform so that students can move among MnSCU schools with the same IMS system. There is the expectation that an IMS in such a seamless system will provide e-learning (or distance learning) for students throughout the state as well as "customized training" for the workplace. Once MnSCU has decided upon funding and support of an IMS, SCSU will need to be ready to move forward with short- and long-term IMS plans.
In the next five years, we should
These specific actions and timeline are dependent upon the actions of MnSCU in relation to IMS support beyond 2002—2003. Therefore, the committee will adhere to the following schedule rather than the standard timeline for carrying out and reporting on specific actions:
Costs associated with housing an IMS on campus for course and training use include a server, server maintenance, system administration, annual software licensing, training sessions for users (including instructors and workshop materials), and ancillary software to assist in integrating materials into the IMS. At this point, MnSCU has not decided whether it will provide any funding or support for an IMS for campus instructional use, and if so, in what form and for what system(s). The status of MnSCU’s support should be clear by June 2003; prior to that point, SCSU should develop a short-term plan that enables us to react quickly to maintain a stable and robust IMS platform for the campus.
Revised: May 2003