Desire2Learn to replace WebCT, Blackboard

On Jan. 1, UW-Eau Claire stopped using WebCT, one of three Web-based learning systems on campus and will stop using Blackboard in June, as a result of license expirations for both programs.

Desire2Learn (D2L) was picked as the replacement Web-based learning system in March 2003 and the contract was signed in April, said Kathy Pletcher, associate provost for Information Services at UW-Green Bay, in an e-mail.

Several factors went into deciding which program to choose.

“It makes it so convenient for them to access things.”
John Melrose
Professor of management information systems

Because of the license expiration, the UW System had the choice to renew them or to review its options for Web-based learning systems, Kathy Finder, interim director at the Teaching and Learning Technology Development Center, said in an e-mail.

Some of the factors included ease of use, ability to convert WebCT and Blackboard courses, technical support and cost, Finder said.

Cost was 25 percent of the evaluation, Pletcher said.

Within the percentage of cost, specific factors were reviewed.

“When evaluating the cost, we considered license fee, plus five years maintenance, plus installation costs,” Pletcher said.

For five years, Blackboard and WebCT are $3.3 million, while D2L is $2 million, Pletcher said.

When broken down, Blackboard and WebCT also cost more per student.

WebCT and Blackboard were about $4 per student, while D2L is $2 per student, she said.

While students and professors may not directly see the effects of lower costs, other aspects of Web-based learning systems are beneficial for the university.

“I think a lot of teachers here are using the Internet programs to cut down on their own time producing documents for their classes,” senior Heather Ouellette said.

Web-based learning systems user John Melrose, professor of management information systems, said he enjoys not having to worry about handouts in his classes.

“It makes it so convenient for them to access things,” he said. “They have a centralized repository for everything they need for a course.”

Stacy Thompson, an assistant professor of English, said the discussion board option is useful for students who aren’t comfortable speaking in class to actively participate.

Freshman Melissa Lauber said she used WebCT in all of her psychology classes to print off notes. Her hopes are similar for D2L.

“I hope it’s a lot like WebCT and I hope more teachers put things on it.”