Here are a few of the usual questions asked about dCourseWeb:
What is dCourseWeb's market?
Basically, members of ABHE (The Association for Biblical Higher Education)
What is dCourseWeb?
dCourseWeb is Nazarene Bible College's homegrown Online Administrative Software package. It has several modules that address different aspects of Online education and it helps solve some of the more difficult issues like student retention.
It has an advising module to help prevent students from falling between the cracks. This includes the structure for working each student through each stage of the process. For example, the system knows:
- When a specific course has been recommended to a student
- When the student has actually been scheduled for that course
- When the student has confirmed that they will be taking that course
- When the student is actually enrolled in that course
- Whether or not the student ever accessed the course
- If the student withdrew
- Whether the student passed or failed
- Also, if a student is not being worked during a given section
Now you may think, "So What? My student system already does some of that stuff." This may be true, but online education and particularly distance learners are on a significantly different timeline than traditional students. Books need to be ordered and shipped (international shipping can take a while), adjunct faculty need to be scheduled, and online classes, by their very nature, are paced much faster than campus courses. By the time your registrar had everything settled in a typical system, the student would have lost valuable class time. With dCourseWeb, all students are properly taken care of.
Furthermore, to be successful, online students need to be communicated with. You just can't set them and forget them. This system insures that they are a part of your institution, not just an anonymous connection somewhere out in cyberspace. What's more, the advising dashboard makes it extremely easy to send numerous personalized (like mail merge) emails to any number of different groupings or categories of students, instructors, administrators, and much, much more.
The content delivery module provides for a single source of content per instructor. The system has many defaults that can be overwritten when necessary. For example, you may have standard syllabus items that all your adjunct instructors must use. However, your faculty instructors may want a little flexibility, which dCourseWeb provides. Also, critical events are controlled automatically like when the class opens, when the student can post notes, and when weekly schedules are available. The course offering and the configured options determine all these things, and are individually set for students, instructors, and locations.
Online classes typically run six weeks, while campus classes run eleven. Their start dates are different, and you may or may not have break weeks. Lastly, even though there are many pieces or modules, the course portal ties them all together to create seamless transitions and to keep the technology out of the way.
Authenticated Web-based access for both desktop computers and mobile devices. Once students login to their course portal, they are only a click away from reading lectures, posting notes, taking tests, or communicating through instant messages. Furthermore, for those who want fast and easy threaded class discussions, they can use Outlook Express/Windows Mail/Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird, or any other compatible newsreader. They will have the ability to batch upload and download discussion messages (ideal for dial-up connections and travelers).
No delivery system would be complete without an integrated grade book. We took it to the next level. With dozens of options, an instructor can configure a grade book to adapt to specific types of grading ideology. Assignments can be setup by week or by category, or they can be mixed. Instructors can also choose whether there is to be extra credit or point adjustments, and they can choose how the student sees their grades. This allows students to see where they stand against the rest of the class and/or how they are doing to-date. Instructors can enter grades by student or by assignment, and when the grades are totally done and electronically signed they can send them to the registrar or to those authorized to receive this information. Lastly, scheduled events can, if desired, be setup to disable student access to the grade book until the student complies with the event's requirements. For example, a scheduled event can be setup so the student will have to complete the course evaluation in order to get their grade.
We currently offer a Windows application that the instructor can use to create and maintain web-based quizzes. We are also working on a web-based version for the future. These quizzes support multiple question types, context sensitive pop-ups for faster answer input, and additional information; so, when a student answers a question incorrectly, they can be told why itís incorrect and where they can go to get more information. This turns exams into learning experiences. Tests can also be timed or made to be only viewable once; this is at the instructor's discretion. Perhaps best of all, the grading is automatic, whether the test is true/false, multiple choice, matching, or short answers. The results are written into a table and a copy is emailed to the instructor. Whether or not the student gets to see these results is, again, up to the instructor, along with exactly how much of it they are allowed to see.
Although the dashboard provides most of the information you would ever need, there are also dozens of web-based reports. "Quick looks" are being added all the time, including how many students there are per advisor, course offerings by session, class rosters, historical class counts, and more.
When will dCourseWeb be available?
dCourseWeb is available now! It is currently in its second revision. It started back in 2001 and continues to evolve. Besides NBC, there are many other institutions that are currently delivering online education through this system, and more are in the process of getting started.
Where is dCourseWeb served from?
dCourseWeb is an NBC-hosted solution. Online or distance learning requires high availability with around the clock access, our datacenter was designed specifically for delivering online education. Redundancy reigns supreme. Other than during scheduled maintenance, students enjoy greater than 99.9% uptime. We ensure availability even in challenging conditions with a state-of-the-art Liebert temperature and humidity control system, a dedicated, automatic Onan natural gas generator, two hours of backup battery power, and system monitors that keep watch of every critical component 24/7. Our electronic components also contribute to this, including high-availability routers, firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention systems, a huge core structure that provides phenomenal internal bandwidth, and a direct fiber run to our tier 1 provider ensuring an ultra-high bandwidth connection (with a failover T1) for our Internet connection.
Why should I consider dCourseWeb?
Simply put - value, security, reliability, ease-of-use, and a proven track record. dCourseWeb can do both course augmentation and distance learning exceptionally well. Also, the advising section was designed to reduce the typical workload associated with distance learning systems. Administrators instantly get a very clear picture of where the program is in relation to numbers, students, courses, and instructors. Overall, it provides a complete and effective program to help you better optimize your distance, online, and, with course augmentation, campus learning programs.