Fall 2009 Course Website Recommendations

The Curricular Technology team is making the following recommendations to LIS on the platforms available for creating course sites. – Alex Chapin

A number of technology tools and services are available to faculty to use in their teaching and for their courses including applications for creating course sites, blogs, collaborative spaces and presentations. What follows are recommendations that focus primarily on platforms for creating course sites over the next academic year. These recommendations take into consideration the recent decision by LIS to decommission Segue and the impact the Web Makeover project will have on available resources and technologies.

Continue to promote Segue as the primary platform for course sites
Until there is alternative to Segue in production at Middlebury, Segue should continue to be promoted as the platform of choice for course websites. While WordPress can be used for course websites, it does not have all the features of Segue.

At orientations, faculty should have the option to get training in either Segue or WordPress
New faculty should be presented with both Segue and WordPress as platforms for creating course sites. They should have the option to get training in either Segue or WordPress after being informed of the basic differences between the two platforms. They should be informed that Segue will be replaced in 1-2 years and that tools will be in place to migrate their Segue content to other platforms. They should also be informed that there will be options for migrating their WordPress content to other blogging platforms.

Measure/Moodle and MediaWiki should be introduced as ancillary platforms for curricular use
Moodle and MediaWiki are currently not set up to function as platforms for course sites. That said, faculty can be informed of these applications and how they can be used. In particular, Moodle can used for online assessments. MediaWiki can be used for collaborative editing and the building of knowledgebases as an alternative to Segue.

The following criteria should be used to determine the appropriate platform for a given course site:
Below is a chart for determining whether to use Segue or WordPress for a course website

Segue WordPress
Automatic class roster yes no
Automatic course site creation yes no
Guest Accounts Yes no
Public sites Yes Yes
Restricted to class roster Yes Yes, but students must create WordPress accounts and then be added manually, one by one, by instructor
Restricted to individuals Yes Yes
Mixed public and private access Yes No
Upload large files Yes No
Comments with file attachments yes no
Audio Comments yes no
Streaming media yes yes

Below are suggested revisions to the text from the “Segue from Segue” blog that was first published on May 8th, 2009, shortly after the Faculty LIS Advisory Committee was informed of LIS’s plan to decommission Segue.

Segue Decommissioning

LIS has created this site in order to keep all faculty and staff who use and/or support Segue informed about the College’s decision to move to a different curricular content management system.

We have decided to discontinue the development of Segue and to begin the process of choosing a new tool for creating course websites and curricular resources. While Segue has served the college community well over the last six years, new systems are emerging on the market that offer similar features and functionality and bring with them large communities of developers and users.

Segue will continue to be available for use for at least the next academic year, and very likely for the following year as well. In the Fall, we will form a team of faculty, students, and staff to survey our options and collect requirements in order to choose a new tool.

In the meantime, we recommend faculty continue to use Segue for their course websites. When we do find alternative solutions to Segue, we will develop tools to migrate Segue content to those alternative platforms. For those faculty who would like to have their course website in the format of a blog and are comfortable with their site being open to the public, we invite you to consider trying out WordPress, a popular blogging platform that many faculty have found to be effective for courses.

Over the summer, we’ll be adding to this site in order to explain our rationale for discontinuing development, and to share our preliminary thoughts on how this transition will work. As we work with the Faculty LIS Advisory Committee to develop more specific plans, we will post them there, and also keep you informed through email updates.

We certainly recognize that these sorts of changes are disruptive, and are committed to minimizing these disruptions, and to making the conversion of materials in Segue to the new tool as easy as possible. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, and if you wish to participate in the upcoming evaluation process.

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