PARKERSBURG - West Virginia University at Parkersburg are helping test a new learning management system for educators and students.
The college is one of nine design partners with education consulting group Pearson to beta test the OpenClass system.
The testing phase consists of evaluating the program and working through the issues that may arise in the system through everyday use. Rhonda Tracy, senior vice president for academic affairs for WVU-P, brokered the agreement with Pearson to bring the beta test to the college.
"We aggressively pursued participation in the new project, and we were selected as the only pilot institution in the state," Tracy said. "The benefit to the college and most importantly, the students, is that this new learning management system is free, which is what initially captured our attention. The system also allows our college and faculty increased access to a wide variety of digital assets across a variety of disciplines."
OpenClass is organized to look similar to social networking sites. The system is also cloud based, which is a cyber-storage area that allows instructors to access resources from any location. The system can be accessed at www.joinopenclass.com.
Cynthia Kelley, associate dean for academic affairs at WVU-P, is working closely with instructors involved in the program through the first stage of the beta test.
"They are still developing pieces of the system, and it is growing while we use it," said Kelley. "It's an advantage to be a part of something new, and to take part in the design of such a learning management system is a tremendous opportunity. We are on the cutting edge and even with the challenges, it is exciting."
The college is collaborating with Pearson through the 2011-2012 academic year. Participating instructors include Rob Anderson, Craig Rabatin, Vijay Shah and Sy Sarkarat. Anderson and Rabatin are instructing their entire classes online with the system, while Shah and Sarkarat are blending their courses with lectures in an alternative delivery format.
"The program is really convenient and easy to access," said sophomore Loren Bell, a student in Anderson's History 153 class. "It definitely appeals to my demographic because it looks just like a social media application like Facebook."
Other design partners in the OpenClass project include Abilene Christian University, Arizona State University, Central Piedmont Community College, Monash University, Kentucky Community & Technical College System, Rice University, the University of Wisconsin Extension and Columbia University.