More profs. switch to new classes server

As it enters the final phase of a major transition, the Classes*v2 server is on track to replace the original classes server completely by fall 2007.

Following the addition of selected courses at the School of Management and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the number of spring semester classes currently on the server has increased to about 850 from 462 a year ago, with more on the way, though some students said they wished more professors took advantage of the system’s features for posting readings and submitting assignments.

Director of Academic Media and Technology Chuck Powell said Classes*v2, which was launched in fall 2005, has proven to be an attractive option for many Yale faculty. About 1200 fall term classes were registered on the server by the end of the semester, Powell said.

“The adoption rate has been very high,” he said.

Powell said some of the attractive features of Classes*v2 include a navigation bar at the top, a user-friendly interface, and better support for foreign language character sets. A number of foreign language faculty members, especially those who teach Chinese, have found the new feature useful for online class discussion, Powell said.

Another explanation for the steep increase in the number of classes switching over is the fact that the old server will be closing down next semester, Powell said. About 85 percent of Yale College classes are running on the new server, while the rest remain on the old classes server, he said. Before switching over this semester, the SOM had used an online system called WebCT, and the School of Medicine is in the process of switching from Blackboard software to Classes*v2.

Some faculty members said Classes*v2 allows for students to communicate easily with professors and to download class materials more efficiently.

“Instead of handing out all sorts of assignments and notes, they are available on the Web site,” SOM professor Edward Kaplan said.

But other faculty members said the old system was just as useful as the new one. Professors who use the site primarily to post materials and make announcements said the new system does not represent a very big change.

Akhil Amar, a Law School professor who teaches “Constitutional Law” — a popular undergraduate lecture course — said the old system worked “just fine.”

But most students said they find the new server much easier to use than its previous iteration.

“All your classes are on the top of the bar, and [the new system] has more options,” Chris Holownia ’07 said. “It’s much better organized.”

Other students said they appreciate receiving automatic memberships to courses on the Classes*v2 server when they choose them through Online Course Selection.

But some said they want professors to take greater advantage of the server’s features.

“I wish more professors would actually use it,” Akpanoluo Etteh ’10 said.

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