High-End Web Authoring Courseware Shells and Other Authoring Software
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

This document is no longer updated for changing authoring software.  For more recent updates, go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm 







Please send your messages to rjensen@trinity.edu .

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Web Authoring Courseware Shells (Internal-System)?

Internal-system shells require that you or your institution maintain your own "internal-system" servers.  What internal-system shells need to be added to the ones that I have listed below?

What are the reactions to the latest versions of particular shells.  For example, last week Associate Dean Les Porter at the University of Southern California reported that he gave up on the usage of Learning Space due to its complexity, lack of user-friendliness, and failure to deliver things promised by Lotus for Learning Space.  I might add that Les is on the higher end of techie abilities.  Have any of the rest of you had this experience with Learning Space?  Many people reported frustrations with TopClass.  However, the vendor claims that the latest version of TopClass corrects many of the flaws.  What do users think about the latest versions of TopClass?  Blackboard is supposed to be the most user friendly option.  Have there been problems with Blackboard users?  What is the future of WebCT?  WebCT is one of the most popular internal-server shells.  However, its future is clouded by not be adapted to Windows NT systems and by not making external server space available.

Do you have any comments about any of the internal-system options?

Web Authoring Courseware Shells (External-System) for Matriculated College Students?

External-system shells are available at commercial web sites that allow instructors and their institutions to avoid the headaches of maintaining servers.  External-server options for college and university courses are growing like gangbusters.  For example, the University of Northern Arizona now offers over 60 courses online using eCollege external servers.  Prentice Hall has an increasing number of PH books under Real Education on the eCollege server.  CyberClass lists hundreds of college courses on their servers according to http://www.hgcorp.com/cyberclass/hg/Newsroom/newsschools.htm .  Jenzabar is coming on fast because it is free to both colleges and students.  However, there are controversies over making students view advertising as part of a college's online course.  Have any colleges established policies about using external shells that make students endure advertising?  And now we have Blackboard offering free server space without making students endure advertising.

What external course servers have I missed in listing only CyberClass, eCollege, Jenzabar, Blackboard.com, and Pearson Education Companion Websites?

Blackboard Inc. now has become the market leader with an internal and external-server system called Blackboard.com.  This is so important that I have a separate website threaded messages regarding Blackboard.  Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/blackboard.htm 

IBM is trying to become a leading player.  

Update on May 16, 2000:

From InformationWeek Online on May 15, 2000
Poe of today might say "Quoth the Raven, `Evermore' "

IBM and its Lotus Development Corp. subsidiary today will unveil a business unit dedicated to distance learning over the Web.

IBM plans to make a considerable investment in E-learning. The move is expected to help Lotus deliver on a strategy in which the company plans to focus on three areas: distance learning, knowledge management, and its core messaging and collaboration software. "It's my intention to have Lotus established as the franchise player in the knowledge-management and distributed- learning space," says Lotus CEO Al Zollar. The rate of new technology development is outpacing companies' abilities to train workers, he says. Consequently, businesses aren't realizing the benefits of newly implemented technologies as quickly as they should. "We're finding that in some cases, the time to training is exceeding the time to market," Zollar says.

Proponents of distance learning say it can help meet key business goals by allowing companies to quickly train employees and speed delivery of products and services to the markets they serve. "It's a great and growing space, and gaining momentum," says Fred McCrea, a research analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners. According to E-learning company Hungry Minds Inc., IBM's entrance could provide a big boost to the industry. "We're among the early movers, and we're looking for validation," says Hungry Minds CEO Stuart Skorman. "It takes [a company the size of] IBM doing this to get it off the ground."

Lotus' first E-learning product, Learning Space Anytime 3.0, was released last year. The company's first knowledge-management system, Raven, is being tested at 250 customer sites. The software will let companies retrieve content from throughout their IT systems and locate people who can provide needed knowledge and expertise. Lotus plans to make Raven available in the second half of this year.

From InternetWeek Newsletter [newsletter@news.internetwk.com] on May 15, 2000

Lotus Stakes Claim On E-learning

IBM and its Lotus Development subsidiary today will unveil a business unit dedicated to distance learning over the Web.

IBM said it plans to make a considerable investment in e-learning. The move is expected to help Lotus deliver on a strategy in which the company plans to focus on three areas: distance learning, knowledge management, and its core messaging and collaboration software.

"It's my intention to have Lotus established as the franchise player in the knowledge management and distributed learning space," said Lotus CEO Al Zollar. --Diane Rezendes Khirillah and Rick Whiting, InformationWeek

For the rest of the story: http://www.internetwk.com/story/INW20000515S0004 

There are similar external-system alternatives listed in the document below.

One question that arises immediately is how the various internal-system shell vendors that compete with Blackboard will be able to survive without providing external server services?  What other internal-system shell vendors have moved or will be moving soon to offer external server services so that their systems do not have to be installed on campus servers?

WeBCT Update

"WebCT LAUNCHES NEW E-LEARNING HUB: FIRST DESTINATION SITE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION NOW HUB FOR 70 ACADEMIC DISCIPLINES" --- http://www.webct.com/service/ViewContent?contentID=2550741&communityID=-1&categoryID=-1&sIndex=0 

Lynnfield, MA, September 26, 2000 – WebCT announced today the launch of the e-Learning Hub, the first academic destination hub site for higher education. WebCT.com (http://www.webct.com/change), which encompasses 70 different discipline-based learning communities, is a place where students, scholars, teachers, and those in pursuit of knowledge come together to share and collaborate across academic and institutional boundaries. 

The launch of the e-Learning Hub represents the third wave in the evolution of online education. The first wave was the development of WebCT course tools, enabling faculty to create online learning classes, allowing increased communication and collaboration between students and teacher. The second wave expanded the online class to the online campus, through the key alliance of WebCT, SCT and Campus Pipeline, that allows universities to offer faculty and students a single streamlined system with one-stop, secure access to all of its online services. Now, the e-Learning Hub expands the learning environment to the entire global community of learners -- transcending class, campus and institutional boundaries. More information about the e-Learning hub can be found at http://www.webct.com/change.

The e-Learning Hub also fills the need among higher education faculty and students for robust online academic resources. Among faculty delivering online courses, 21% currently refer students to resources on the Web. These professors now go through the time-consuming process of finding, and vetting those resources themselves. In addition, Student Monitor found that 85% of students used the Internet for academic pursuits. The e-Learning Hub provides both groups with a single location for the start of their academic online research.

“Our customers are the best research and development resource we could hope to have,” said Carol Vallone, CEO of WebCT. “They made it clear to us that content – using the widest definition of content – needed to be readily accessible to them as they developed their online classes. The e-Learning Hub absolutely provides that and provides WebCT with an opportunity to maintain our relationship with the millions of students that take WebCT classes each year, throughout their careers and lives,” said Vallone.

“We were really excited to see the e-Learning Hub become available,” said Diane Oerly, of the University of Missouri/Columbia. Our faculty were seeking an environment in which faculty can communicate with other faculty and share resources within and across academic disciplines. So we were really pleased to see WebCT respond to that need to have learning communities that are focused at the discipline level but could span the world.”
While the e-Learning Hub provides specialized content within the 70 disciplines, there are common features to all the communities:

Pedagogical Underpinnings
The learning community concept is an important topic among education thought leaders. In Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace, authors Paloff and Pratt focus on community as the key to effective online learning: 

“Key to the learning process are the interactions among students themselves, the interactions between faculty and students, and the collaboration in learning that results from these interactions. In other words, the formation of a learning community through which knowledge is imparted and meaning is co-created sets the stage for successful learning outcomes.” -- Paloff and Pratt

Learning communities can exist within an online course, or among a larger group of teachers and learners. WebCT’s e-Learning community breaks down the barriers of the classroom, department and campus to enable the creation of unique resources through the collective efforts of the community. These collective resources will provide value to new teachers and learners, long after one specific course has ended. The Educational Laboratory at Brown also points to a learning community as one that through collaboration, transforms a central resource repository for educators into a learning community (“The Knowledge Loom: A Vision of a Distributed Repository Revisited”).

The enduring quality of the collective work done within the WebCT.com framework has already proven useful to WebCT customers. “The advantage that web-based learning has over computer-based learning is the sense of community and interactivity that the web can provide. The e-Learning Hub’s ready-made communities and discussions provide this sense of closeness. Of course, every instructor can and will also use their own chats and bulletin boards within their own course, but the Hub’s Discussions stay around when the courses are finished and they can be contributed to by people all over the globe. Using the Hub discussion forums with your students can give you connection to something that endures," said Laura Summers from Alva Learning Systems.

The development of the e-Learning hub is a natural outgrowth of the research conducted by WebCT founder, Murray Goldberg, when he first developed the WebCT course tools. His research indicated that the opportunity for collaboration and online communication increased student achievement when online class elements became available to students taking on-campus classes.

How it Works
WebCT, provider of leading online course management system has developed the e-Learning Hub so that when the two are used together, it creates a full e-learning environment. 

For example, an astronomy professor using WebCT for her course can introduce class materials in WebCT-ready format, that correspond to the textbook being used in the class. Students can then go to the e-Learning Hub to purchase access to that material – just as they would a textbook at the campus bookstore. 

The astronomy professor uses the e-Learning Hub to find out about an online briefing with NASA scientists and e-mails her class to attend the chat and she hosts a discussion following the chat where her students discuss the findings. She adds the discussion to the e-Learning Hub where other scientists and researchers respond to questions and add their perspective on the NASA announcements.

Students visit the e-Learning Hub throughout the term to Ask Dr. Astronomy questions about their theories and try to answer the “question of the day” and share their research and thinking with other students, researchers and professional scientists interested in the same topics.

Success of Math Forum – Model for e-Learning Hub Communities
WebCT launched the pilot for the e-Learning Hub at the beginning of this year, giving its customers and the academic community an opportunity to provide input on the content, usability and focus of the site. In the Spring, WebCT acquired the Math Forum as a model academic site for students, faculty and professionals. The award-winning Math Forum became the math community on the e-Learning Hub and also served as a model for the development of the other communities. 

The Math Forum, with its flagship “Ask Dr. Math” and “Problem of the Week” services, has developed a knowledge-building environment that integrates and capitalizes on activity in three areas: mentoring, community building, and establishing a resource center that provides easy access to mathematics, learning activities, and powerful tools. The Math Forum pioneered and fast became the leading academic community site as a result of its ability to foster communities and discussions between students, educators, and mathematicians. 

The e-Learning Hub now combines the input from the academic community, the thinking and experience of the Math Forum and the scale of a true destination site, with the offering of 70 discipline-based academic communities. 

About WebCT
WebCT provides the leading e-learning environment to the higher education marketplace. This robust e-learning environment integrates WebCT, the most popular course management system in the world and WebCT.com, The e-Learning Hub. WebCT.com is the first higher education destination site to offer both faculty and students online teaching and learning resources to a community of peers across discipline and institutional boundaries. Today, more than 48,500 faculty use WebCT to teach at 1,500 colleges and universities in 57 countries. Currently, WebCT is used to deliver or enhance courses totaling more than 6.9 million student accounts – a key metric for the industry, indicating the product’s widespread deployment at higher education institutions. These statistics don’t include more than 800 K-12 schools and almost 100 corporate customers who are also using WebCT, or about 7,500 others who are currently conducting free trials. More than 42,400 faculty provide links from their online courses to WebCT.com, The e-Learning Hub, and more than 1,368,000 college students had visited the hub this spring (Q2 Brand Intelligence). The Company has offices in Lynnfield, MA, and Swarthmore, PA, in the U.S., as well as Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. More information about the company and its integrated e-learning environment can be found at http://www.webct.com/change.

Web Authoring Courseware Shells (External-System) That Solicit Students and Pay Instructor Royalties?

In previous discussions I called the new services from Paul Allen (Click2Learn) and Mike Milken (Virtual Education Workspace) the Clash of the (Billionaire) Titans.  The main difference in the past was that these two "titans" were willing to serve up courses from most any instructor, market the courses, and pay royalties to the instructors based upon customer usage of the courses.  To what extend have college instructors used this service?  It would seem that most colleges would not allow their courses to be served up in this manner unless they shared in the royalties.  Some colleges may not allow external serving under any circumstances.

Now full-line external shell servers are getting into the "custom" course act.  The following excerpt appears at http://www.hgcorp.com/cyberclass/hg/authorshipps.htm 

  1. You adopt CyberClass for one or more courses with a minimum of 5 students and sign the CCP Author Agreement with HyperGraphics for any courses you teach within the CyberClass environment.
  2. The materials you easily publish in the CyberClass environment will be co-copyrighted. In other words, you will own the content you publish to CyberClass, just like a book or workbook, and HyperGraphics will own the Web site, the underlying structure, and the publishing mechanisms of CyberClass, just like a publisher. Hence the traditional educational Author-Publisher model.
  3. HyperGraphics will pay a royalty in two annual payments (April and October) based on sales to students who purchase diskettes to access your CyberClasses. Royalties will be paid as follows:
  • 10% royalty if the diskette is purchased directly from HyperGraphics or a HyperGraphics’ publishing partner, such as Course Technology, South-Western, Jones and Bartlett, and so on.

Aside from being available to your students, your materials (once approved) will also be listed in the HyperGraphics CCP Catalogue, which will be published online. Instructors from schools, colleges, and corporations can peruse this catalogue of courses and may adopt one or more sets of material that meet their needs—maybe your materials. If your materials are chosen for use by an instructor for their class, you will receive 5% royalty from the diskettes purchased by their students. The instructor who chooses your course and customizes it will receive 5% royalty from the diskettes purchased by their students.

The full-line web authoring option at Blackboard.com states the following:

This service is for one year and may be renewed annually. When you register a course for $100, you receive not only all of the functionality shown above, but you also receive a number of enhanced services:

  • E-commerce capabilities: the option to set a fee for your course and charge a fee for students to enroll.
  • An optional listing in the featured course section: this section lists all the classes, which are available for anyone to enroll.
  • Technical support
  • 10MB space (free courses get 5MB)

New "custom course" and "instructor royalty options" from Blackboard and Cyberclass raise all sorts of questions about new policies that colleges and universities will have to adopt regarding instructors who teach courses for a salary and also want to collect royalties for online courses.  What policies have either been adopted or are under consideration at your college or university or other type of school?


Blackboard users should especially note Amy Dunbar's comments near the end of this module.

Comment on Groove from Bob Jensen: 
It seems highly unlikely that the audio in Groove will penetrate firewalls.  My guess is that the same problem that arises with free long distance telephone audio that will not penetrate our campus firewall computers.  For my threads on free long distance telephone, see <http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/speech.htm#LongDistance>

One upon a time, our computer center director (then Larry Gindler) lowered the firewall guard to experiment with incoming long distance audio.  The audio quality was disappointing.  My guess is that the quality will also be questionable for off-campus audio from Groove even if firewall guards are lowered. However, the inter-campus audio quality is excellent according to Richard Campbell.

Original Groovy message from Richard Campbell

Late next week, I'll be starting some virtual office hours for my students. Anyone who wants to audit these randomly scheduled mini-tutorials on managerial accounting should email me at mailto:campbell@VirtualPublishing.NET  with Groove.Net in the subject line. You also would need to download the free beta at www.groove.net Groove.Net  was founded by Ray Ozzie, the developer of Lotus Notes while he was at Lotus.

Richard J. Campbell www.VirtualPublishing.NET  mailto:campbell@VirtualPublishing.NET 

Reply from Amy Dunbar

I went to www.groove.net  and found the following description of Groove: 

Groove is Internet software for making direct connections with the people who are important to you. With Groove you can talk, chat, instant message, draw pictures,swap photos and files, play games and browse the Web together with friends, family and co-workers -- at the same time or whenever one of you has a moment. In Groove, having conversations with context is as easy as sending an email or accessing the Web. Groove runs on Windows' PCs and uses the Internet for transporting communication among PCs.

What does "talk" and "chat" mean - audio/text or only text. Can you have audio communication (not pre-recorded) with Groove? If so, how many users?

Amy Dunbar 

Reply from Richard Campbell

The chat is both audio (voice over IP) and text chat. The performance of audio chat is very good. I'm not sure of performance through a firewall though. I'm not sure if there are limitations on number of users during the beta testing period. When they start charging real money, I'm sure there will be charging on the basis of file storage and number of users.

Richard J. Campbell www.VirtualPublishing.NET  mailto:campbell@VirtualPublishing.NET 

Reply 1 from Amy Dunbar

Groove is worth checking out. Three faculty members here just "chatted" in a conversation space in groove. Now I'm wondering how it works over modems with the audio. Even with text chat, however, the notepad space works nicely as a "blackboard" where an instructor could go thru a solution, while carrying on a text chat in the space below the notepad. If you check the button "Navigate together" you can move through web pages together, so if you had developed a flash file, you could go through it with the students. Richard, thank you so much for bringing this product to our attention.


Reply 2 from Amy Dunbar on April 5, 2001 (following a demo by Richard Campbell)

The voice exchange in the "space" with Richard Campbell was clear. I'm starting to see the advantage of some of the other tools. For example, he brought up his net ledger tutorial, and it worked within groove. Also, he had gifs of excel spreadsheets (created with snag it) that he had uploaded to the groove server. When you click on a file, it opened immediately. I uploaded a file and both of us were able to see it. Really neat.

For those of you who have downloaded groove, you can click on "My contacts" and search for adunbar or campbell79 to add us to your contact list.
Amy Dunbar [ADunbar@SBA.UCONN.EDU]

The Possible Demise of High-End Course Authoring Systems?

What I call "high-end" course authoring systems are those systems that were mainly intended for professional hypermedia CD-ROM authoring.  Most were developed before the world wide web was invented in 1990.  However, very few CD-ROM hypermedia books and courses have been profitable, and web delivery seems to be pushing out what little remains of the CD-ROM market.  In 1992, I identified over 60 high-end authoring products.  In 1996, I counted less than 20 survivors in the market.  I think some of these have dropped off the edge, but I have not had time to search in detail.  I would appreciate it if anyone out there can tell me what has happened or is happening to those survivors.

The main problem has been web delivery.  Delivering courses authored in a high-end system over the web is like pushing an 800 lb gorilla through a garden hose.  Firms developed web browser plug-ins, but the plug-ins do not work well with hypermedia.  

What is the future of each high-end course authoring package?  For example, will Asymetrix continue to support and upgrade ToolBook Instructor?  Recently I have received messages from several ToolBook authors that raise doubts that there will be continued development of Instructor.  Already Asymetrix is beginning to focus on other products such as Click2Learn.  Click2Learn uses low-powered authoring software that delivers web courses quite efficiently.  To what extent will high-end course authoring alternatives either disappear or simply remain "as is" for CD-ROM and DVD authoring?

Electronic Books
I have a document online that is intended to provide updates on electronic book technologies and products --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ebooks.htm 

The Document Below is In the Middle of a Major Revision --- Please Be Patient

Table of Contents

Internal-System Web Authoring Courseware Shells

External-System Web Server Courseware Shells

Special-Purpose Authoring Software

Network Discussion Group and Collaboration Software


The Demise of High-End CMS Authoring Software

Video Conferencing and Teleconferencing

Other Distance Learning Software and Hardware Solutions

Web Authoring Courseware Shells (Internal-System)
Web server/client software focused on storage, delivery, and course management.   This software facilitates server/client networking that allows for interactive student record keeping, online test grading, etc.  Unlike high-end authoring software, courseware shells have utilities for creating network listservs, bulletin boards, chat rooms, electronic forums, telephony, etc.  These shells also facilitate lesson authoring in virtually all of the high-end authoring software, although in most instances HTML software is used such as Microsoft FrontPage.  Some courseware shells have more internal authoring capabilities than others, although none have the full authoring capabilities of the high-end authoring systems such as Macromedia Authorware.

In the following shell software options are internal to a system in that you or your institution must provide the web servers in which these shells are installed.  In most universities, these servers are maintained by the central computing center or a major division such as the college of business.  Individual professors do not usually maintain servers with courseware shells due to the cost and technical expertise required in maintaining a web server and backup servers upon which students depend for courses.  

It should be noted that most webmasters will not generally  install more than one web authoring shell (e.g., more than one of the shells listed below).  The main reason is the cost and training required to install and maintain a shell combined with the annual fee of most interactive courseware shells.  Annual fees for internal courseware shells vary from extremely expensive (e.g., Asymetrix Librarian) to free shareware (e.g., Hot Potatoes).  Some are very user-friendly (e.g., Blackboard) whereas others are very difficult to set up and maintain (e.g., Learning Space).  WebCT is the most popular, although it is somewhat outdated and can only be installed on UNIX servers.  Blackboard is probably the easiest to install and maintain.  Publishers may assist in installing selected interactive courseware shells on a campus if a sufficient number of students are required to purchase one or more of that publisher's selected text for which online materials are available.  For example, McGraw-Hill publishing will help to install TopClass free on a campus that adopts textbooks available in in the McGraw-Hill Learning Architecture program.  Prentice-Hall and McGraw-Hill will also provide materials in WebCT.

Blackboard Inc. now has become the market leader with an internal and external-server system called Blackboard.com.  This is so important that I have a separate website threaded messages regarding Blackboard.  Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/blackboard.htm 

Some of the course management shells listed below are targeted for corporate and government training programs.  As such they are very expensive and are best used with a team of technicians to assist instructors since they are not very user friendly.  Asymetrix Librarian is an example of a shell that is very high priced, not user friendly, and rarely used by colleges.  Some other shells, however, originated in colleges and universities even though they evolved into commercial products.  Examples include Cornell University's Blackboard and the University of British Columbia's WebCT.  Both of these were eventually taken over by corporations.  Mallard is still available from the University of Illinois, but Mallard has limited functionality relative to most other shells.

Full-Line (Course Management, Interactive, Chat Room, Multimedia, Web Authoring)  Internal System Web Authoring Shell Alternatives That Do Not Provide External Servers or Course Advertising, Registration, and Billing Services:

Asymetrix Librarian (Ended) Convene CourseInfo (Blackboard)
FirstClass Hot Potatoes (free) IntraKal
Learning Space Mallard MentorWare
Oncourse and Angel PHP Real Education (eCollege)
Serf TopClass WebCB
WebCT WebMentor Enterprise CourseLinks

The majority of the above vendors have just begun providing external-system options at the time of of this writing.  Note that some publishing firms will assist internal-system webmasters in installing the software.  For example, see McGraw-Hill Learning Architecture (MHLA) for TopClass and WebCT discounted installations on campus servers.  Macmillan Publishing has partnered witth TopClass.

I maintain some threads on Blackboard at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/blackboard.htm

 I enjoyed scanning your long document at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/245soft1.htm. Great comprehensive job.

I noticed that you have included the Oncourse system that I developed at Indiana University. FYI, I have developed the next version, Angel (A New Global Environment for Learning) as the third generation of course management environment. You may review the Angel site at http://angel.iupui.edu/angel/,   However, you may not see all the Angel's features and conceptual discussion on this site. Indiana University in the final stage of patent protection for the Angel that should not be published before the final submission of the patent claims. I thought you might be interested to know about the Angle.

Ali Jafari, Ph.D. 
Director of CyberLab
Associate Professor of Computer Technology
School of Engineering and Technology
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, IUPUI 
Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA 
Homepage: http://www.iupui.edu/~jafari/  
CyberLab: http://CyberLab.iupui.edu  
Email: jafari@iupui.edu   Phone: 317-274-4565   Fax: 317-278-0241 

At a conference in Bermuda last week, I listened to a wonderful presentation by John Parnell (Head of the Department of Marketing and Management at Texas A&M University). After comparing Blackboard, WebCT, and other options, his program for distance education across Texas and into Mexico, he and his Texas A&M colleagues opted for a software from http://www.ucompass.com/   

Especially note the "Uniqueness" section that is linked at http://www.ucompass.com/  

I asked Dr. Parnell to comment on Ucompass.  He wrote back as follows on September 26, 2000:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your e-mail and the write-up.

We selected uCompass because of the technical ability and extraordinary service commitment extended by its president, Ed Mansouri. uCompass is a small provider, so Ed is still very active in the day-to-day operations. The system is user-friendly, support is prompt, and Ed and his staff bend over backwards to meet our specific needs. We had originally narrowed down the choice to Blackboard and uCompass and invited presentions from both (individual, and then together on the same day). Most of us expected Blackboard to come out on top, but Ed's commitment to meeting our specific needs made the difference.

By the way, if Trinity is considering a partnership, I would strongly recommend uCompass.

If you have any additional questions, please let me know. Thanks again.


Since I began this threading document of authoring software, an excellent software information guide appeared on the web.  Go to http://www.ctt.bc.ca/landonline/evalapps.html 

Web Authoring Courseware Shells (External-System)
Some instructors have no access to "internal web servers" or are on campuses having outmoded computing centers that are not up to speed in installing and maintaining web authoring interactive shells.  For those instructors, there are options for  installing courses in external web server systems.  It is generally not too difficult for an instructor to get approval and limited funding from his or her institution in order to put online course materials on an external interactive courseware system.  Approval should be cleared with the institution.  In particular, there may be some concerns over having students either pay for passwords to access the online courseware or endure advertising to access free online courseware.

There are basically two types of external system interactive courseware servers.  One type is designed for courses in institutions where students are matriculated for the installed courses.  For example, the University of Northern Arizona (UNA) has over sixty courses installed in the eCollege external system.  UNA assigns each course's instructor and registers students for the course.  In eCollege, the institution negotiates a fee to install and deliver a course.  The fee varies with the type and amount of service requested.  For example, a course for which eCollege provides services for digitizing and installing streaming audio and video costs more than a course that does not use audio and video clips.

Microsoft Corporation and eCollege.com are collaborating to offer free (NOTE: connect time charges may apply for your internet connection) courses to faculty and staff in higher education. These courses will focus on using information technology in general, and Microsoft products in particular, to improve teaching and learning. The first of these online courses will be "Presentation Technology: Teaching and Learning with PowerPoint 2000". The first offering of this online course will begin on February 15th, 2000. More detailed information on the course, registration information, and technical requirements, can be found at http://microsoft.ecollege.com/  in the Microsoft Faculty Center.

Welcome to the Microsoft Faculty Center, powered by the eCollege.com course delivery system. This Center is intended to help you, the faculty and instructional staff of educational institutions around the world, build rich and dynamic learning environments which will empower individuals at all stages of their lives and careers, enable access to lifelong learning, and to help us build a connected learning community.

Our inaugural activity at the Microsoft Faculty Center is to provide online Microsoft Office 2000 productivity courses for faculty members, powered by the new eCollege System 4.0. Our first online course, starting February 15th, 2000, and running until February 29th, 2000, will focus on using Microsoft PowerPoint 2000 effectively to improve teaching and learning.

Inaugural Course

With PowerPoint 2000, you and your students can make learning more dynamic by creating presentations of classroom materials and projects. You can use graphics, text, movies, sounds, and the Internet to share information on any topic. Using PowerPoint 2000 templates, you can quickly and easily create presentations for many purposes, including lectures, research reports, meeting handouts and agendas, speaker introductions, and flyers. Learn more or register now.

About the Technology

We are pleased that eCollege.com is providing the technology to power the Microsoft Faculty Center website and the online courses. eCollege.com's Web-based course delivery systems are designed to promote the richest human interaction possible in the online environment, including the best communications tools available, while remaining totally Web-based and demanding nothing more from students than a Web browser and a 28.8 modem connection. eCollege.com's eTeaching Solutionssm include eToolKitsm, eCompanionsm, and eCoursesm and we invite you to view a demo or sign up for a free trial.

In some external interactive courseware alternatives, there is no fee to the institution for installing the interactive courses.  CyberClass allows instructors to install course material for free provided the enrolled students purchase a password to use the system.  Students purchase passwords to enter the CyberClass external web server much like they purchase the textbook for a course.  In some instances such as CyberClass, publishers like South-Western Publishing Company and Glencoe/McGraw-Hill have made course materials available for selected textbooks if instructors choose to adopt those books for the course.  Students may obtain passwords at a discounted price if the publisher has negotiated a discount for students using particular online text materials.

There are also some flat rate external-system provider such as Convene.  In those instances, instructors or institutions pay a flat rate no matter how many students use the hosted server.

Not all external campus options are fully asynchronous.  LearnLinc has an innovative approach for mixing synchronous and asynchronous pedagogies.  You can read the following at http://www.ilinc.com/article.cfm?ArticleID=12&EID=0&PID=5462 

An important element of any virtual classroom is synchronous activity, where the students and instructor interact through live voice or video while working together with a collaborative software package. Just as important is asynchronous activity – studies done at the student’s own pace, and their own time. The actual mix of synchronous and asynchronous activity is adjusted to suit each course. Although much of the course material may be reviewed asynchronously, the addition of a synchronous classroom provides a significant boost to student retention and training results.

Why Not Conduct a Completely Asynchronous Course?

History shows us why that is not such a great idea. There is a long record of just such efforts, based on both text delivery and computing. The completion rate for students in self-paced courses can be very low. This design works very well with the highly motivated. However, if students are not highly motivated, or there are too many students or employees to train, an asynchronous approach won’t work. Here’s an example: Ford Motor Company used computer based training to teach a new technique to their employees. They designed a CD-ROM for 15 hours of instruction, but employees completed less than 2 hours of the material on average.

Striking a Balance

With live Internet learning, there can be a balance between synchronous and asynchronous time. Individual study can offer self-paced flexibility, but in order to be really successful, students also need continuous feedback, interaction, and teacher mentoring.

What Does an Effective Internet-based Distance Learning Environment Look Like?

Delivery on standards-based multimedia PCs equipped for live video/audio interactions and connected to a large network.

A balanced mix of synchronous and asynchronous activity.

Compatibility with industry-standard authoring tools for multimedia courseware including audio and video clips, animation, and simulation exercises.

Use of professional quality software tools for CAD, spreadsheets, and word processing.

Small group discussions.

Question and answer tools.

Collaborative software for application sharing over the network.

Floor control for both instructor-led and student-centered learning.

Course administration tools for scheduling, registration, and resource management. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – A Pioneer in Distance Learning

In 1992 Rensselaer was challenged by AT&T to create an Interactive Multimedia Distance Learning Environment (IMDL). They re-designed a course from AT&T's University of Sales Excellence (USE), an internal training and education organization. The course teaches the features of AT&T Advanced 800 Services and how to apply them to customer applications. Rensselaer created the multimedia materials and did the workstation programming for the project. AT&T Bell Labs took on the network programming. In June of 1993, they tested the IMDL environment with live participants. An instructor in Ohio delivered the course to students in Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey.

Viviance is rising as a major player in web delivery of courses and programs in Europe.  See http://www.viviance.net.

Viviance new education was founded in 1996 in St. Gallen, Switzerland by our two founders: Ursula Suter-Seuling, a former senior manager of an international education company and Ignatz Heinz, who had over 10 years of computer based training experience. A joint educational project for the internet helped serve as the eye-opener for both. Combining of sound pedagogy and high-tech was possible now and the time to move was at hand.

Both Ignatz Heinz and Ursula Suter-Seuling soon realized a trend of "techno people" doing education in online development. This motivated both to help change the face of technology based education and training into a healthier "think education first, then do technology" approach to design and development. Viviance AG new education quickly emerged as one of the leaders in instructional software development in the European market. Ursula Suter-Seuling and Ignatz Heinz drew from their educational and technological expertise to manage this innovative company. From its beginning situated in a farm house in Niederwil, that still serves as an office today, Viviance used the latest instructional design principles combined with the latest in online technology to help shape its corporate philosophy that is still in use today.

As the company realized success as a production company, it became more evident that the tools sets used to produce successful online courses were going to have to be internally developed. This led to the June of 1998 idea development of Thinktanx, a fully integrated authoring and delivery system in use today by Viviance designers and developers around the world.

Thinktanx is constantly updated to match the robust environment that is the internet. As such, Viviance made a critical commitment to online development technology that will keep the company in pace with what is new in the internet world.


In other options, there is neither a fee to the institution for installing the courses nor a fee to the students who use the online course materials.  JenzaEducator is probably the best-known external courseware server that is free to institutions and students.  However, students must endure advertising when accessing online course materials.  In order to provide this free service, JenzaEducator relies upon advertising revenues.

Education to Go claims the following at http://www.educationtogo.com/ 

Education To Go is the world's largest supplier of Internet-based adult education courses. We manage all online instructional development and delivery for a network of over 450 colleges, universities, and other training institutions in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Our mission is to lead educational institutions towards a new online instructional standard. We make online education more accessible, more affordable, and more effective for your students. In short, Education To Go is changing the way people learn!

We can help you begin offering online courses to your students within minutes. Our unique program requires no budget or capital investment, reduces administrative costs, and maintains the primary role of your institution as an instructional provider to your local community.

By partnering with Education To Go, you'll completely bypass the steep development costs associated with creating and delivering new online courses.

Full-Line (Course Management, Interactive, Chat Room, Multimedia, Web Authoring)  External System Web Authoring Shell Alternatives That Do Provide External Servers:


CourseInfo's (Blackboard.com)

COLTS Complete Online Teaching System 


Education to Go



Lotus Learning Space via Interliant


Real Education (eCollege) (There are even eCollege scholarships and full degree programs)

JenzaEducator (Free software and server hosting with advertising) 

Pearson Education's Companion Websites (Prentice Hall)


No frills free "unlimited" free server space (but no course authoring shells and software):

XOOM at http://xoom.com/home/ 

TrellixWeb at http://www.trellix.com/ 

Other free server space alternatives:    http://cas.uah.edu/whittena/mis114/fr_web_sp/webdef.htm


Since I began this threading document of authoring software, an excellent software information guide appeared on the web.  Go to http://www.ctt.bc.ca/landonline/evalapps.html 

The above external-system servers are mainly intended for students matriculated in schools such as the University of Arizona.  There are also external-system providers that will serve up virtually anybody's course.  In those instances the courses are made available to virtually anybody in the world, and the instructor need not recruit the online students.  For example, Click2Learn provides free software and encourages "anybody" with some expertise in some topic to install a course at no charge on the Click2Learn server.  Click2Learn provides the server space, authoring software, course marketing, student registration, billing, accounting, and other services.  Instructors merely provide course materials and collect 30% course royalties paid by Click2Learn.  Of course, if grades are to be assigned, instructors are responsible for the grading.  A competing alternative to Click2Learn is Mike Milken's Virtual Education Workspace.  In both instances, it should be known that both are free to instructors, including the user-friendly software that is available for both online course servers.   For example, the limited-line alternatives do not allow interactive communications such as chat rooms and limit authors to restricted (free) authoring software.

Now full-line external shell servers may be moving into the "custom course" act.  The following excerpt appears at http://www.hgcorp.com/cyberclass/hg/authorshipps.htm 

  1. You adopt CyberClass for one or more courses with a minimum of 5 students and sign the CCP Author Agreement with HyperGraphics for any courses you teach within the CyberClass environment.
  2. The materials you easily publish in the CyberClass environment will be co-copyrighted. In other words, you will own the content you publish to CyberClass, just like a book or workbook, and HyperGraphics will own the Web site, the underlying structure, and the publishing mechanisms of CyberClass, just like a publisher. Hence the traditional educational Author-Publisher model.
  3. HyperGraphics will pay a royalty in two annual payments (April and October) based on sales to students who purchase diskettes to access your CyberClasses. Royalties will be paid as follows:
  • 10% royalty if the diskette is purchased directly from HyperGraphics or a HyperGraphics’ publishing partner, such as Course Technology, South-Western, Jones and Bartlett, and so on.

Aside from being available to your students, your materials (once approved) will also be listed in the HyperGraphics CCP Catalogue, which will be published online. Instructors from schools, colleges, and corporations can peruse this catalogue of courses and may adopt one or more sets of material that meet their needs—maybe your materials. If your materials are chosen for use by an instructor for their class, you will receive 5% royalty from the diskettes purchased by their students. The instructor who chooses your course and customizes it will receive 5% royalty from the diskettes purchased by their students.

Blackboard Inc. now has become the market leader with an internal and external-server system called Blackboard.com.  This is so important that I have a separate website threaded messages regarding Blackboard.  Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/blackboard.htm 


Limited-Line External System Web Authoring Course Alternatives That Do Provide External Servers, Course Advertising, Registration, Billing Services, and Instructor Royalties:

Paul Allen's Asymetrix Click2Learn

Mike Milken's Virtual Education Workspace

Full-Line External System Web Authoring Course Alternatives That Do Provide External Servers, Course Advertising, Registration, Billing Services, and Instructor Royalties:

CourseInfo's (Blackboard.com)


University Access (Features video and courses from leading Ivy League business faculty)

The main difference between limited-line and full-line options is that limited-line options may restrict the course author to proprietary software and not allow more full-featured, hypermedia software to be imported.  In full-line options, it is sometimes even possible for instructors to merely send in audio or video tapes and request that the system digitize and serve up the hypermedia.  I really expect most of the internal-system web authoring developers to open up external server web sites and become more like Blackboard.com and Cyberclass.

Since I began this threading document of authoring software, an excellent software information guide appeared on the web.  Go to http://www.ctt.bc.ca/landonline/evalapps.html 

Special-Purpose Authoring Software

Courses or parts of courses can be authored in software that is more limited and more specialized than web authoring shells or high-end course authoring software.  In some cases, however, this special-purpose software provides some features that authors may like.  For example, most web authoring shells do not have software that will hide and show layers in a HTML document.  Nor can such layers be authored in Microsoft FrontPage 2000.  But a HTML document can be opened in Macromedia Dreamweaver for adding some specialized "behaviors" such as making text and graphics layers hide or show with the click of a button.  Another example is an efficient animation program called Macromedia Director.  Director is very popular and widely used in course authoring even though it does not have many features of course authoring software such as course management utilities, chat rooms, online test grading, etc.  Similarly, TeamFusion optimizes some aspects of collaborative authoring but is not a full-featured course authoring package.

Special-Purpose Authoring Software:

Some of the alternatives listed below are working toward becoming full-line internal-system and/or external-system server providers.  Others merely seek to hang on to their market niches.

askSam Electronic Publisher and Web Publisher

CD Motion for Video CD

Course Builder

Creative Course Writer

Designer's Edge (can be integrated into PowerPoint)

Digital Chisel


Everest (Windows) and Summit (DOS)

Faculty Desktop Course Management System from Datatel


Icon Author


Macromedia Dreamweaver 

Macromedia Director  

Macromedia Flash 

Network Discussion Group (Chat Room) Software

RB Player for Interactive Game Authoring

Real Publisher (an inexpensive way to serve up RealAudio and RealVideo.)

Rotor Learning System

Story Vision

TeamFusion for Collaborative Team Authoring

Web Course in a Box (WCB)


Web Audio and Video Authoring and Playback Software

Thanks go to Chris Nolan for the lead on the following web site about 
"Putting Your Course Online" http://www.library.okstate.edu/dept/dls/prestamo/nom/titlepage.htm 



The Nov/Dec issue of Syllabus mentioned above has a Buyers Guide that is not posted online.  A few of the items mentioned in pp. 34-42 are as follows:

Network/Course Management Software updates include the following:

Online Communications and Resource updates include


Since I began this threading document of authoring software, an excellent software information guide appeared on the web.  Go to http://www.ctt.bc.ca/landonline/evalapps.html 

From InternetWorld.com [internetworld_support@cheetahmail.com] on April 30, 2001

"Commentary: Why ColdFusion Is Still Relevant" by Dave Carr

Goodbye Allaire, hello Macromedia, and hello ColdFusion 5. Monday's announcement of the new application server release, which will ship in June, is the first product news to come out of what used to be Allaire since Macromedia closed its acquisition of the company. It's also our excuse to talk about what ColdFusion users have been telling us about the merger and about why ColdFusion remains relevant in the era of J2EE and .Net.

First, ColdFusion 5 is the first major release of the server in 18 months and addresses a laundry list of demands for performance and developer productivity improvements. New features include user-defined functions that can be stored once on the server, then accessed from any application; "query of queries," a way of combining multiple database queries and treating them as a single, consolidated data source; more analysis and reporting functions; and a graphing and charting engine (based on Macromedia Generator).

Performance of the core engine is supposedly as much as four times better than with ColdFusion 4.5, and partial page delivery lets users see some content sooner, even if the server is still working on retrieving other information or performing a complex calculation. A new application deployment model allows developers to package all the files associated with an application into a single archive file for easier installation on multiple servers. Application monitoring has also been enhanced, and support for SNMP allows ColdFusion to be managed with tools like Computer Associates' Unicenter, IBM Tivoli, or BMC Patrol.

Phil Costa, the senior product marketing manager for ColdFusion 5, said he expects a large percentage of the ColdFusion customer base to upgrade, for two reasons. "First, we've added a large number of features they've been asking for, and second, a large number will upgrade for the performance gains." Because ColdFusion 5 delivers higher performance on the same hardware, some customers will find it saves them from having to add server capacity, he said.

Costa kept emphasizing that Macromedia was committed to continuing support of ColdFusion. That would certainly make sense, given that this product was Allaire's bread and butter. At the same time, most of the application server market, other than Microsoft, has coalesced around the Java 2 Enterprise Edition family of standards. ColdFusion stands alone as a survivor from an earlier generation of application servers that invented their own ways of doing things. However, the Allaire purchase also bought JRun, an entry-level J2EE server. Furthermore, the next major release of ColdFusion is supposed to run on top of a Java engine -- starting with JRun, but also opening up the possibility of running ColdFusion applications on top of other J2EE servers.

It adds up to future-proofing ColdFusion. The reason people choose ColdFusion or JRun in the first place is that both products make it easy to develop and deploy applications at a reasonable cost. Allaire loyalists tend to argue that these products also do a better job on scalability and reliability than competitors might have you believe. Still, it's the products from the likes of IBM, BEA, iPlanet, Oracle, and Iona that you're more likely to find running Internet banking and airline reservations systems.

Jeremy Allaire, who has stayed on as chief technology officer of Macromedia, says that rather than trying to compete with those players over who has the strongest distributed object transaction system, he prefers to focus on the "mass enterprise" of developers who don't have those extreme high-end requirements.

Macromedia shares Allaire's focus on making Web development easy, and the companies were already working together in a number of ways prior to the acquisition. Dreamweaver UltraDev could be used to build database-driven sites in CFML (Cold Fusion Markup Language for creation of dynamic and interactive Web pages), along with ASP and JSP, and JRun is an embedded component of Macromedia Generator. On the other hand, many Web projects that target one of the high-end J2EE servers still use Macromedia products for the front-end design and Web-development aspect. So at the same time that Macromedia is boasting of now having an end-to-end product, it still needs to leave the door open to customers of other application servers.

"The merger comes as happy news to us," reports Justin Knecht, manager of Internet technology at Binney-Smith, where he's responsible for sites such as crayola.com and sillyputty.com. Knecht's group uses products from both companies and particularly relies on the Mac versions of the design products for the look of its sites. When his group was formed at the beginning of 2000, it was given four days to come up with a demo system of a revamped site and six weeks to create a full production system. ColdFusion proved to be a good match for development under that kind of deadline pressure, he said. The initial site that launched in March 2000 suffered from bad database design, and Allaire consultants also helped fine-tune the code for a July relaunch. But overall performance has been good and has stood up to spikes in demand, he said

High-End Authoring Software
Multi-purpose software used for authoring of books, CD-ROMs, computer games, kiosks, complete courses, and course management (e.g., student records, test grading, etc.) that include utilities for creating hypermedia, drag-and-drops, scripting languages, etc.

It is important to note that most high-end course authoring packages commenced before the world wide web was invented in 1990.  These packages were intended for hypermedia course authoring on CD-ROM disks and LAN (local area network) kiosks.  Most have runtime or playback software that allows students and other users to use the course materials without purchasing the authoring software.  For a period of time the authors were forced to "partner" with the software vendor and negotiate what portion of the course sales revenue would be shared with the software vendor.  For example, early developers of training courses in Authorware course had to share revenues with Macromedia for the privilege of using runtime software.  Competition eventually eliminated most runtime fees.

The combination of competition and the world wide web forced most high-end authoring software vendors out of business.  At one time there were over 50 course authoring vendors, including the first hypertext package called Quest from Owl Corporation.  Most of those alternatives did not survive.  And those that have survived are not especially popular for authoring of courses to be delivered on the web.  The main problem is that delivering a full-featured hypermedia course authored in a high-end system is analogous to pushing an 800 lb gorilla through a garden hose.  Bandwidth limitations on the Internet and slow modem speeds cause all sorts of complications for high-end course authoring systems.

Further complicating web delivery is the necessity in many instances for students and other users to download runtime plug-ins needed for access to course materials authored in high-end software.  For example, students must download the Authorware Reader to view an Authorware course in a web browser.  They must download Asymetrix Neuron to view a ToolBook course in a web browser.  Quest courses require an Allen Corporation Quest Reader.  Think of how frustrating and complicated it becomes to download and install these plug-ins.  Students often use borrowed computers or college lab computers that do not allow students to download and install software.  

By way of illustration, consider my problem in having my students access parts of a the free options trading Authorware tutorials available online from the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE).  These are excellent tutorials that I would like my students to have available for student projects.  I do not want to require that all students access assigned modules, but a student writing about some exotic hedging contract may want to access some modules in the CBOE tutorials for his or her course project.  Since the CBOE tutorials are authored in Macromedia Authorware, my students cannot view the free tutorials without downloading and installing the Authorware Reader plug-in.  Trinity University does not allow students to download and install plug-ins on student lab computers.  In the early summer, I can give the Trinity University Computing Center (TUCC) a list of all plug-ins that I want installed on all lab machines.  However, if I should encounter some tutorials or other documents on the web after a certain date, it becomes really complicated for the TUCC to add plug-ins to the lab computers.  At the moment there are no Authorware plug-ins on the lab machines.  

Free Commercial Server Space Alternatives for Courses

I will now summarize some options for putting your course materials up "for free" on commercial servers rather than having to rely upon the servers on your campus (many universities and other schools are way behind the time in providing server space and software shells for courses).

Both Paul Allen and Mike Milken are "Titans" in the eyes of an insignificant salaried professor.  However Paul Allen has more billions than Mike Milken, and Paul Allen has spent less time in jail.  However, since being released from prison, Mike Milken set a course to monopolize much of the online education material and distribution via his Knowledge Corporation and its many subsidiaries.  It is nice to see that other billionaires are putting up some competition.  Actually what Mike Milken and Paul Allen are both doing with their vast wealth is for the good of making training and education available worldwide.  I applaud what they are doing with their vast wealth and the risks that they are taking with their money.

In summary, the Clash of the Titans seems to be Paul Allen's newcomer Click2Learn versus Mike Milken's earlier "Milken's Virtual Education Workspace."  

Don't forget about the "non-Titan" CyberClass option for authoring courses.  CyberClass offers professors free space on its commercial servers.  You must provide your own course materials authored in the software of your choosing such as Microsoft FrontPage.  However, CyberClass offers more than you can get from the "Titans."  Cyberclass is a complete course management shell in the sense of allowing students to interact with the system, take tests online, enter chat rooms for synchronous course discussions, and track student performance and grades.  However, not just anybody can put up a course in CyberClass.  You must be the instructor of a formal course with enrolled students who can purchase the password to the course.  Publishing firms like South-Western Publishing have course materials mounted in CyberClass.  These publisher-generated materials can be accessed by students at discounted prices for selected textbooks required for a course.  CyberClass does not have author royalties per se, but a small company like HyperGraphics might negotiate royalties for large-scale courses from popular authors.  You can read about what universities are using CyberClass at http://www.hgcorp.com/cyberclass/hg/Newsroom/newsschools.htm.

If all you want is free server space without the bells and whistles (i.e., no point and click authoring software, chat rooms, course grading, or course management utilities), XOOM offers "unlimited" free server space.  Alan Whitten provided me with the following link to other free server alternatives:  http://cas.uah.edu/whittena/mis114/fr_web_sp/webdef.htm

In summary, the options are as follows:

Free course authoring software and server space with royalties from the results of you labors from the "Titans":

http://click2learn.asymetrix.com/cda/createcourse/frontpage/ from titan Paul Allen

http://www.mevw.org/ from titan Mike Milken

To date, the only full-line provider of free server space with free student use that I know about is Jenzabar at http://www.jenzabar.com/.  Boston College uses Jenzabar.  If can read the following at http://www.wbz.com/prd1/now/template.display?p_story=160690&p_who=wbz:

"Previously, students could get course information, calendaring, program information, etc., but they had to go to multiple and confusing sources. With Jenzabar.com, they only need to go to one central source."

The company, Jenzabar.com, is centrally located in Cambridge, Massachusetts amongst dozens of colleges and universities, has its finger on the pulse of what students really want at their desktops.

The core of all students' and professors' weekly routines is based on course schedules, and has developed a personalized "front page" featuring an individual weekly calendar. The entries in the calendar provide links to each course's "home page" and students can add appointments, academic or extra-curricular, directly into this personalized calendar.

In addition, professors, administrators or career counselors have the option of inviting students to campus-wide, course-wide or class-wide events by posting announcements to other users' front pages. Now college students can stay informed by links to CNN or local headline news. Students also receive email announcements on campus or career events posted by administration and campus organizations.

Another feature of the site connects students is the Personal Profile option, which serves as a "virtual facebook". This provides detailed information about each student, including their name, address, major, work experience and interests. This page can be used as a resource for students to get to know each other, making it easier for them to form clubs or study groups.


No frills free free "unlimited" server space is available elsewhere, but the sites below do not offer course authoring or other course service utilities:


Alan Whitten provided me with the following link to other free server alternatives:  http://cas.uah.edu/whittena/mis114/fr_web_sp/webdef.htm

If you would rather mount your courses on your university's servers, you should convince your webmaster to install one or more of the web authoring shells for servers discussed at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/245soft1.htm#Shells.  I still recommend Blackboard if you go that route.


I (Professor Kamlet) have been approached by Jenzabar.com who is offering me all the space I want to mount web pages, course syllabi, class distributions, etc. forever. My students would go to their website and gain access to all I've posted there. One of the links off the Jenzabar homepage is for shopping aimed at college students. There are no links from the course pages to shopping sites. No information they obtain about students will be used to sell to them directly. A clear advantage is that I'd be using their servers, not our school's. They provide web page shells, calendars, etc. The question of ethics, forcing students to a website where shopping is available, remains.

The website is http://www.jenzabar.com  if you want to check it out.

I am soliciting input here. Is use of this service appropriate?

Elliot Kamlet Binghamton University Binghamton, New York 13902 607-777-6062

Neil Hannon stated. "I have been in contact with Jennifer Clark from Jenzabar.com. She offers the following comments to the concerns expressed on this list:"

Prof Hannon - Here is the "digest" of responses. I realize this is a bit lengthy - feel free to edit at will. - Jen

Prof Fordham is right in pointing out that using an internet site - any site - opens a user up to unwanted email, and that companies can sell lists of email addresses to other companies, or send unwanted advertisements. Jenzabar.com does not sell user lists; our privacy policy states this and we make all our employees sign statements of confidentiality that include a provision to that effect. We also are beefing up site security within the next two weeks to ensure that no third parties can access the information on our servers. Any time an email is sent en masse (to more than 25 registered users), we include instructions for opt-out procedures.  

I realize that several professors have been "cold-contacted" regarding the Charter Professor Program; both an initial contact letter and a follow-up email were sent within a week of each other (both included opt-out procedures if the message were sent in error). Sean, Kristin, and Ben divided up the U.S. into regions and emailed a small sampling of professors whose email addresses they randomly selected from college websites. The idea was to open Jenzabar.com up to a wide selection of colleges and professors; the feedback we received from this diverse group would help Jenzabar shape a product that met the needs of all faculty. As someone who worked closely with faculty during the past few years, I know that sometimes a straightforward "cold" email can have lasting value - for one professor I worked with a random email two years ago led to co-editorship of a textbook. I know our initial means of contact may concern some professors as to Jenzabar's future email procedures, but I'm confident that in the long run the decision was a good one for Jenzabar users (and Jenzabar!) We now have Charter Professors at 300 schools - community colleges, art schools, liberal arts colleges, research universities, professional and medical schools, adult education specialists, etc. - whose feedback and suggestions directly shape the development of new Jenzabar features.  

To address Prof Omer's concerns - shopping is merely a button on the screen, and students are not forced to visit the shopping section. It isn't as if a student will look at their syllabus and see a huge banner ad for Coca-Cola across the page. Right now there is no advertising on the site, and there will never be any advertising on academic pages. Here's the logic behind the shopping: We want Jenzabar to be free for students and professors. The best possible situation would be to have a free service with free hosting of information - that way everyone's on a level playing field as far as cost and finding server space. Many internet companies that offer free services are supported by advertising and ecommerce (Yahoo!, Hotmail, etc.) Of all internet users, students spend the most time online and also spend the most per capita in online buying. Companies are eager to provide students with discounts, but they often have no way of ensuring the buyers really are students (all faculty, staff, and students are usually given .edu addresses, so even that isn't a good measure.) Since we know when a user is a student, we can guarantee to such companies that whoever is buying their merchandise at a discount is actually a student. We act as the student's advocate to negotiate discounts on everything from airline tickets to textbooks to CD's. Students can buy the same things they normally do online - only much cheaper. And, of course, if students don't want to buy through Jenzabar.com, they certainly don't have to.  

Re website hosting, my only comment is that every professor should find the tool that is right for him or her - and there are many out there to choose from. Jenzabar's main advantages are type-and-click editing for busy professors who want to add a handout or change a syllabus entry in a hurry, a "killer" look-and-feel...and a built-in structure for creating an academic community (multiple professors teaching at the same school can interact, students can access all their courses through one account, adding support for cross-course and cross-school threaded forums - for example, a forum for all Jenzabar users taking introductory accounting). 

 Jennifer Clark 617-492-9099 x262 

Network Discussion Group (Chat Room) Software

Most Shell Software offer discussion group software.  See Shells.

Microsoft FrontPage

Microsoft’s FrontPage98 offers a template for threaded discussions and templates for classroom sites available free from the Microsoft site.

Matt's Script Archive

Check Matt’s Script Archive and view his WWW Board at http://www.worldwidemart.com/scripts/

Thanks to Peter Kenyon at Humboldt State

Jerry Turner provides an example at http://www.fiu.edu/~turnerj/acct/acg2021/board/index.html

Hyper-News at http://www.hypernews.org/HyperNews/get/hypernews.html

HyperNews is a cross between the hypermedia of the WWW and Usenet News. Readers can reply to base articles they read in the HyperNews web, and browse through the messages written by other people. A forum(base article) holds a list of messages on a topic, and you can reply to the base article or another reply. These messages are laid out in an indented tree format that shows how the messages are related (i.e. all replies to a message are listed under it and indented). Users can become members of HyperNews or subscribe to a forum in order to get e-mail whenever a message is posted, so they don't have to check if anything new has been added. This e-mail gateway is also bi-directional, so the user doesn't have to find a web browser to reply. HyperNews then places the message in the appropriate forum.

Currently there is not a gateway to News (but see discussion on that issue). Rather, forums and messages are maintained on a web server. Unlike most news servers, messages never expire (at least not now - that option will probably be added later) but like news, messages may not be edited any time after being "posted" (there are many applications where it makes sense to allow editing).

PowWow Drumbeat of the Internet



How do heavy hitters spell network collaboration software?  Try  MediaDepot from eMedia-IT Solutions at http://www.emediait.com/.  MediaDepot even provides free web server space.

Your content is valuable. Don't risk losing a file or having the wrong person viewing material that is for your eyes only. Until today, most creative professionals had few options when sharing their materials with clients and colleagues. They could post a client's mock-up on an URL for them (and their competition) to view, or they had to email or FTP all of the materials to a secure server. Now, web developers, graphic designers, photographers, anyone can put their content in a safe place where only authorized members can access. There is no need for FTP software or the agonizing wait for all of those files to download into your mailbox.

MediaDepot is Y2K compliant and backed up on a daily basis, to make sure that your content is always in its place. Learn more about MediaDepot's network and security measures.

MediaDepot received raves by the NewMedia Labs as reported in NewMedia, September 1999, pg. BS13.



According to David Welton of CSU-Chico, distance education will get a boost in the arm from WebTV delivery in cheap set-top boxes on television sets.  WebTV greatly improves upon television reading of text and has many of the advantages taking a course on the computer.  One drawback that remains is that WebTV is unable to display multiple windows like computers display multiple windows.  Also Java Applet support is still not available on WebTV.  However, many persons who watch TV but shy away from the complexities of a computer may be drawn to interactive education on their TV sets.   The full article by David Welton is entitled "A Web-Based Distance Learning Experience:  WebTV," in Syllabus, June 1999, 56-57 (the online version is not yet online, but it will soon be posted to http://www.syllabus.com/ ).

Also see the WebTV Network at http://www.webtv

Demise of High-End CMS Authoring Software

Following the introduction of Owl's Guide, a raft of off-the-shelf options appeared in the 1980s.  There were two types of course authoring options that are discussed below.  The Course Management System (CMS) software had many features that were not available in what Jensen and Sandlin defined as Alternative Software.  In Chapter 3, they identified ten CMS packages for computerizing complete courses.   They started with hypertext utilities and then added hypermedia authoring features in the early 1990s.  Most of the established products below have survived to 1999 with sales for corporate training, but virtually none of them ever had profitable sales to colleges and universities.  The ten leading 1994  CMS packages identified and discussed on considerable detail in Chapter 3 of Jensen and Sandlin (1994) were as follows:

Most of the above CMS packages were designed for floppy disk or CD-ROM delivery and management of multimedia courses.  These packages peaked in popularity about 1995.  Aside from fierce competition, the major cause of their decline was the World Wide Web that commenced in 1990 but did not become popular until HTML authoring and editing software packages became available in around 1995.  With simple HTML authoring, students can obtain hypertext and hypermedia navigation from documents served up all over the world from a single server.  Equally important, the HTML documents can be updated in real time.  These two huge advantages of web authoring triggered the downslide of CMS course authoring for both corporate training and higher education.  

One of the problems with CD-ROM authoring is that authors and publishing firms in general did not make profits on costly CD-ROM books and courses.  Corporations make good use of them in training programs, but the Internet is rapidly becoming more popular due to ease of access and ease of updating course materials on web server files.  "There are 25,000 CD-ROMs sitting there with nobody making any money from them" according to Marc Canter in "Inventing New Venues," NewMedia, August 1999, pg.17.  For an earlier (August 1998) analysis of what went wrong, see http://newmedia.com/NewMedia/98/09/feature/trip.html.

In addition to the above ten packages that were viable CMS course authoring packages in 1994, there were at least 40 other hypertext and hypermedia software "Alternative Option" packages that did not offer full CMS management options.  However, these other alternatives were nevertheless widely used to author files for training and education courses.  These are listed along with some video software options in  Chapter 3 of Jensen and Sandlin (1994).  Most of these have also disappeared from sight at the end of the 20th Century.  Once again the main contributing factors were intense competition and inefficiency and ineffectiveness of CD-ROM authoring tools as web authoring tools.  Some of the Macintosh packages disappeared as Apple Corporation's market share dwindled.  Others just did not convert the DOS software to the Windows operating system for PCs.

It might be noted that in addition to over 50 course authoring tools in 1994, there were many intensely-competitive presentation software packages.  In 1994 these included  SPC's Harvard Graphics, Gold Disk's Astound, Asymetrix's Compel, Microsoft's PowerPoint, Macromedia's Action, Micrografx's Charisma, Just-Ask-Me,On-The-Air, Lotus Corporation's Freelance, Word Perfect's Presentations, Stanford Graphics, Special Delivery, Q/Media, Zuma Group's Curtain Call, Multimedia Design’s mPower, and others listed in Appendix 6 of Jensen and Sandlin (1994).  By 1999, these have been eclipsed by Microsoft PowerPoint.  None of these presentation packages were hypertext or hypermedia authoring tools.  For example, users could navigate "pages" nonlinearly, but it was not possible to add scripts to "hot words" that would perform scripted actions such as navigation to particular words and paragraphs on other "pages."  


Other Distance Learning: Hardware and Software Solutions

ClassPoint Distance Learning System
White Pine Software Inc. is offering the ClassPoint distance learning solution, which creates a virtual classroom environment
where teachers can lead instruction of students in remote locations. Applicable to all levels of education, ClassPoint combines
real-time video, audio, text, chat, whiteboard sharing, and Web touring to provide a synchronous learning environment.
Contact: White Pine Software Inc., Nashua, NH; (603) 886-9050.

ClassWise 1.3
ClassWise 1.3 is a distance learning application that offers educators a method for delivering a live or recorded course with
real-time audio, slide presentations, annotations, and text chat. It allows interactive or self-paced learning through the Internet
or intranet with only a low-speed Pentium computer and a 28.8Kbps modem. Contact: Magideas Corp., Fairfax Country, VA;
(703) 620-9191.  

PREP Online
PREP Online is a new application from ComputerPREP that combines online training and assessment in a single package.
Community colleges and universities can use PREP Online to deliver distance learning and adult education courses. PREP
Online supports Web-based and hybrid CD-ROM courses. Students can use the system to chat with live instructors over the
Internet. Contact: ComputerPREP, Phoenix, AZ.; (800) 228-1027.  

Starvision is offering StarED, a distance learning application that allows educators to conduct classes in both lecture-based and
desktop environments. Based on ATM two-way video equipment, the system features full-motion color pictures with natural
sound. The system also features a user-friendly interface that allows the teacher to control activities.
Contact: Starvision Multimedia Corp., Burnaby, British Columbia; (604) 205-5500.   

TeachingPro 5000
NEC is offering the TeachingPro 5000, a podium that combines all the features and functions required for distance learning into
a single platform. The TeachingPro 5000 is available with integrated multimedia tools that maximize the capabilities of
instructors. Features include an integrated multimedia PC with a 13-inch high resolution monitor and convenient connections to
external PC or Macintosh laptops. Multimedia functions include a laser disc/CD-ROM player, an S-VHS player/recorder, a
35mm video slide projector, a wireless Lavaliere microphone, and a local sound system with noise cancellation. Contact: NEC
America, Irving, TX; (800) TEAMNEC.  

Internet Servers

Compaq ProLiant 7000
The Compaq ProLiant 7000 puts nothing in the way if growth is in your future. It has been designed for school networks that
are evolving and need a server that can support future expansion. The ProLiant 7000 delivers fast performance and uptime in
an expandable design. With vast amounts of internal storage and migration support for eight processors, the ProLiant 7000
accommodates what schools need today and protects investments down the road. Contact: Compaq Computer Corp.,
Houston, TX; (800) 88-TEACH.  

Dell Internet Server Bundle
Dell Computer Corp. recently released a new Internet server bundle developed specifically for K-12 and higher education. The
server bundle consists of a PowerEdge 2200, 4200, or 6100 server; Microsoft technology such as Windows NT 4.0,
FrontPage 98, Proxy Server, and other authoring and administrative software; network hardware such as routers, hubs, and
cables; and integration and installation services. Contact: Dell Computer Corp., Round Rock, TX; (800) 388-8542.

Netfinity 7000
The Netfinity 7000 line of servers from IBM provide up to 4-way SMP 200MHz Pentium Pro processors with 512KB/1MB
L2 Cache 256MB standard and a maximum of 4GB of ECC memory They also contain 12 hot-swap slim-high drive bays
(total of 18) for a maximum internal storage capacity of 109.2GB. Other features include Advanced Systems Management
Adapter, dual 132MBps Wide Ultra SCSI I20-ready PCI bus architecture, and 10 expansion slots (9 available) consisting of 6
PCI and 4 ISA. Contact: IBM Corp., Research Triangle Park, NC.  

Networking Hardware and Software

3Com SuperStack II
Following its recent introduction of the industry's broadest line of advanced Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet LAN
switches supported by a high-performance stackable architecture, 3Com Corp. announced a powerful new 10/100 Mbps
stackable switch, innovative high-speed modules, an extended lifetime limited warranty for stackable switches, and an
aggressive price reduction to its powerful Fast Ethernet stackable switch. These new developments to the company's
Ethernet/Fast Ethernet/Gigabit Ethernet SuperStack II system give customers more flexibility in designing performance
migration into their networks to clear network congestion and deploy new voice/video/data applications. Contact: 3Com
Corp., San Jose, CA; (800) 877-2677.  

Cisco LightStream 1010
The Cisco LightStream 1010 is the first in a series of campus ATM switching solutions from Cisco Systems. This 5-Gbps
modular switch provides fault-tolerant operation and extremely fast throughput, delivering the sophistication and depth of
functionality required for true ATM production deployment. Contact: Cisco Systems Inc., San Jose, CA; (800) 553-6387.

Shiva AccessPort 2.0
Shiva Corp. has introduced version 2.0 of its AccessPort ISDN client router that makes its easy to connect remote groups of
users to institutional networks, the Internet, and online services. AccessPort combines security features with easy to use and
simple configuration. AccessPort's Security Assistant feature provides third party security authorization support for remote
users. Contact: Shiva Corp., Bedford, MA.; (800) 867-4482.  

Timbuktu 4.0 for Macintosh
Farallon Communications Inc. has introduced Timbuktu Pro 4.0 for the Macintosh, the latest version of the company's remote
control and file transfer software. Timbuktu 4.0 allows educational IT organizations to improve their efficiency by allowing
remote help and troubleshooting to be performed. New features include file synchronization and synchronization of two
computers' files at the click of a button. Contact: Farallon Communications Inc., Alameda, CA; (510) 814-5000.

Vivid Switched Routing Products
The Vivid line of switched routing products, from Newbridge Networks Corp., is a set of products that can bring high-speed,
multimedia network technology to education. With the Vivid line, schools can link multiple class rooms, separate buildings and
even remote campuses with fast ATM communications. The speeds of the Vivid line make it suitable for exchange of
multimedia data, such as video and voice, in addition to traditional text data exchange. Contact: Newbridge Networks Inc.,
Kanata, Ontario, Canada; (613) 591-3600.  

Network/Lab Management Software

FoolProof Version 3.0
FoolProof Version 3.0 is a cross-platform security system that allows computer managers, lab coordinators, and instructors to
more easily manage systems and workgroups. The application frees instructors from having to continually maintain systems set
up by disabling functions that can disrupt computer operation. Available for Windows, Windows, Macintosh, and
Macintosh workgroups, FoolProof Version 3.0 protects hard disks as well as system folders and configuration files. Contact:
SmartStuff Development Corp., Portland, OR.; (800) 671-3999.  

Operating invisibly to the user, Historian for Windows records system start time, stop time, user logins, file operations,
applicationusage, Web page access, active time, and idle time. All measures of computer use can be reported by user, time and
date, andproject. Historian is ideally designed for reporting information on the use of public access computers, monitoring
application use, and Web page display and print usage information in easy-to-read 3D graphs and spread sheet format.
Contact: Fortres Grand Corp., Plymouth, IN; (800) 331-0372.  

Web-Based Network Management Software IntraSpection, from Asanté Technologies Inc., is Web-based network
management software that makes running a network as easy as surfing the World Wide Web. Based on intranet technology,
IntraSpection allows the management of any SNMP device. Using Java applets, IntraSpection can show real-time status
updates, statistics, traffic/link displays, and network statistics monitoring. Users can develop a complete device management
system with an HTML page. Contact: Asanté Technologies Inc., San Jose, CA; (408) 435-8388.  

QM Web Administrator
QM Web Administer offers a secure environment for test delivery over an Internet or intranet. Instructors can maintain student
rosters, limit test access to individual students or user groups, list valid tests for participants, schedule tests and set a maximum
number of times a test can be taken. The application also validates students' names when they take tests, and keeps a record of
test participants and their scores. Contact: Question Mark Corp., Stamford, CT; (800) 863-3950.   

WinShield, from Citadel Technology, is desktop management and security software for Windows that is designed to protect
and secure shared workstations in computer labs and other settings. The application sets restrictions on tasks users can
perform, reducing the need for time-consuming maintenance tasks. Restrictions can be placed on functions in Windows or
Windows NT. Contact: Citadel Technology, Dallas, TX; (214) 520-9292.  

Video and Teleconferencing Hardware

Canon VC-C3
Designed to be used in applications such as video conferencing, distance learning, and telemedicine, the VC-C3 features a
small size, at 4-inches wide and 3 1/4 inches tall. New control software allows the VC-C3 to be controlled by a PC. Other
features include sharper pictures better color reproduction, and the capability to pan/tilt to multiple positions over a range at
various speed settings. Contact: Canon USA, Lake Success, NY; (516) 328-5960.  

Plasmavision 42
The Plasmavision 42, from Fujitsu General America Inc., is a 42-inch flat-screen plasma display that can bring high-quality
video and computer display capabilities to distance learning applications. Just six-inches thick, the Plasmavision 42 can be
mounted on a wall, helping to create a virtual classroom environment. Contact: Fujitsu General America Inc., Fairfield, NJ;
(888) 888-3424.  

ELMO's EV-6000AF Visual Presenter features several product innovations that are industry firsts. Of particular interest for
presenters and teleconferencing users is the new built-in ELMO Dual Camera System that enables the user to switch from a
document to face image using the factory supplied mouse or remote control eliminating the need to physically rotate the top
camera position each time. Contact: ELMO, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; (516) 775-3200.   

Sony EVI-D30
Designed for distance learning, the EVI-D30 color video camera can be used alone or as part of a larger distance learning
system. Features include fast auto-tracking, auto exposure with back light compensation, and motion detection. The auto zoom
feature allows the EVI-D30 to control the 12x power zoom lens, keeping the size of the subject the same during the entire
class. Contact: Sony Electronics Inc., Park Ridge, NJ; (800) 686-SONY.

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