The damnation of too many course materials websites

Here at SCU, we have two major online course materials systems.  One is called eres, the other Angel.  The former is really just a document repository.  It does have folders and a weird variant of a discussion forum but it’s a place where a professor can put a bunch of files and students can download them.  Angel is a full blown learning management system, designed as a central stopping point for actual course content, links out to other places, the ability to have a drop-box for delivery assignments, etc.

While I do have my own personal complaints about eres as a system, my particular whiney complaint today is about the fact that we have 2 of them at all.  I never know where to look for what.

Before the quarter started, I went to both and looked for my three classes.  I found none of them at either site, and tried to remember to look back again later.  When the quarter began, I discovered that both of my quarter-long classes were on Angel.  My 1-unit course, which only meets 1 weekend, I just forgot about.  Turns out it’s on eres.  And it turns out that the professor expected all of us to go there and find it…appparently a while ago.  Now I’m behind to some extent and feel a bit stupid about an e-mail I sent and a response I received from the management department (it’s more about my feeling stupid than them making me feel that way).

It’s just frustrating that we have two different systems and I’m somehow feeling guilty because I didn’t spastically check both of them on a regular basis.  Just frustrating.

Comments (4)

  1. Dylan Salisbury

    How would you manage the process if you were an instructor (and which site would you use, Angel or eres?)

    You hinted here at what best practices for a student might be (pathologically checking both websites… you could also aski the instructor and other students repeatedly while trying not to be much of a nuisance…)

    (Warning, this is just fodder for an upcoming post of mine trying to explain why ERES is better than Angel for real life SCU courses!)

  2. kaiyen (Post author)

    Dylan. If you can convince me that eres is better than hanging a flash drive on a wall under a course name printed on paper taped to that same wall and having students just copy the contents of that flash drive each week….then I will applaud you :-). I think eres is a joke of a system for any kind of academic purpose.

  3. kaiyen (Post author)

    On a more serious note – asking other students doesn’t work since most other students don’t know unless someone tells them. So it’s key to be the student that tells others. The ridiculousness is circular, but it is nonetheless true for the most part. And if the course hasn’t started yet then I can’t ask the instructor (well I could, but many instructors do not reply). There are also instructors that warn you of reading materials just a week before the class. In this case, apparently I wasn’t notified of the reading materials so much as warned I was late on handing them in. When in fact I didn’t even know they were there to be handed in.

    If I were an instructor, I would use Angel, no question. I would take out all of the needless crap that it put in there – the login stats, stuff like that – and simplify the interface. I would have my course materials sorted by date with all kinds of stuff in there. Links, drop-boxes for assignments, folders for media vs folders for reading materials and links to my powerpoint or other presentation materials.

    I have used Sakai (and its predecessor), I have used WebCT, Blackboard, and even played around in a Drupal environment. I think Angel is pretty impressive.

  4. Dylan Salisbury

    OK, I’ll work on my arguments. As a preview… one of the most important features to me as a student is to be notified via e-mail when new content is added to the site.

    I know how to do that as a user of ERES… it’s somewhat straightfoward.

    I’ve been told that Angel has this feature if the instructor knows how to enable it. I’ve never seen it in action.

    This is one reason that I think ERES works better than Angel in practice. I suspect that some lower tech solutions could be even better.

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