eClass
(Photo courtesy of eclass2.msmc.edu)

by Frank Tetler

If recent years are any indicator, Mount Saint Mary College’s (MSMC) Learning Management System (LMS), also known as eClass, promises to grow in both use and ease in the months and years to come.

“Over the last two or three years,” said Director of Online Learning Kristen Dellasala, “I’ve seen some really great pedagogy [method and practice of teaching] online. There are really fantastic instructors here at The Mount and I’m always inspired by them when I work with them.”

Dellasala, who served in an instructional design position for two to three years before starting her current position a little over two years ago, said her favorite part of the job is working, brainstorming, and sharing ideas with the faculty, though she did say that some instructors use it less than others.

“Actually, many instructors are using the learning management system to house their syllabi, readings, etcetera,” she said. “They’re really primarily using it in a web enhanced way and as a repository.”

Instructional Technology Specialist Corri Nicoletti agreed; adding it varies with the course, the program, and the instructor.

“We have courses that are fully online,” she said. “Technically students can attend these in their pajamas.”

These courses depend heavily on eClass and online resources. Hybrid courses that meet asynchronously online and in person can range from 30-80 percent online, but for traditional college classes, it’s up to the professor.

“Some choose to enhance their courses with our LMS which allows them to provide endless resources in a digital format instead of handing out hard copies,” Nicoletti said. “Other professors may not use the system at all.”

Nicoletti said eClass can pretty much do anything you ask of it.

For example, Professor Ed Teall uses it in his Logic classes. This allows him to present his syllabi, PDF and Microsoft Word handouts, homework assignments, his own Adobe Captivate videos, and links to YouTube videos that help explain class concepts.

Dellasala said the only real disadvantage to the LMS is that some students and faculty have difficulty navigating particular pieces of technology in the very beginning of the learning process, but said that she and her department are there to help.

“We are 100 percent here to support students and faculty,” she said, “and we do offer workshops, group trainings, and individual consultations.”

Students should check the website, onlinelearning.msmc.edu, added Nicolleti, which is currently offering an eClass introduction as well as others workshops.

“We have a multitude of resources available,” she said. “Not only do we have a support website and support tutorials, we have the Instructional Technology Specialist. That’s me.”

Professor Nihal Mahawaduge, who uses the eClass system to have his Digital Photography students upload their photo assignments as well as allowing peer review from home, appreciates the support staff.

“One of my favorite things [about eClass] is the support system,” he said, “With any system like this, the support system is huge.”

Dellasala sees the LMS as only getting better.

“Some institutions like ours are sort of in the beginning of it,” she said. “It’s, okay now that we’re doing this, let’s do it better. I think in the future there’s going to be a real focus on quality.”

Nicoletti agreed.

“As e-learning and technology evolves, it has more to offer,” she said, “Our LMS has a lot to offer, and it only seems to get better with time.”