MyCourses portal aims to change way professors, students interact

The recent implementation of myCourses, a Web portal to manage course material, is intended to make life easier for students and faculty of the college community.

MyCourses is a Learning Management System geared towards colleges and universities. According to Marie Shero of Computing and Information Technology, who oversees myCourses, "LMS is a Web-based learning management system and collaboration portal," which enables faculty to "manage course materials and communicate quickly with their students."

Shero said that although faculty members can opt not to use the new service, choosing to use it provides several benefits. The main benefit students receive is a facilitation of the learning process. Students have access to posted grades, along with other course materials such as reference documents, practice tests and links to helpful Web sites. There are also virtual office hours and e-mail features which allow students to easily communicate with their professors. Other elements, such as the Wiki - a blog-like feature - are intended to help to foster a communicative and interactive atmosphere between students and their professors.

Some students and faculty believe that myCourses has been a positive addition to Geneseo.

Communication professor Dr. Andrew Herman said he uses myCourses a great deal. He believes that one of the service's best features is that it provides a "centralized place where everyone needs and knows to go." Although he likes particular features such as the Wiki, Herman acknowledged that getting accustomed to the setup, language and technical aspect of the service was a bit challenging in the early stages of its use. Nonetheless, he will continue to use the service in the future.

Like Herman, some students have found find myCourses a plus. Chris DeFelice, a junior special education major, has had to use myCourses for several of his classes this semester. DeFelice said he found the centralization of information and reference material a welcome addition to his studies.

"I didn't have much to get used to, because I used something very similar to myCourses at Genesee Community College," he said. Consequently, he was happy to see it being used at Geneseo. "I felt like it made the classes more interactive, and I found it helpful that I could communicate with my professors so easily. It's definitely a good addition here."

Shero said that there are a variety of such services available to universities, and that Geneseo wanted to find the service that best fit the campus and its students.

After a thorough search of available Learning Management Systems, Shero said CIT decided that the ANGEL Learning Network provided Geneseo with the best fit. Consequently, late last spring CIT employees began implementing myCourses, a name specifically given to the LMS so that it would fall more in sync with, as Shero said, "the theme of Geneseo, which already uses services like myGeneseo."

After implementing the new system in the spring, CIT had the system completely ready for students and faculty this fall.

Shero, like Herman and DeFelice, is excited about the new feature and hopes that over time more faculty members will integrate it into their classrooms, as she believes it enhances classroom instruction a great deal.

With the positive feedback the service has received thus far, it seems myCourses is well on its way to becoming an active part of Geneseo students' education.