Sorry for posting this late. I dug this up from my computer files.
The WebCT Product
WebCT, or World Wide Web Course Tools, is was originally a Canadian
product originally developed at the University of British Columbia in
1995, as part of a research project to study the impact of online
learning on student outcomes, out of a desire to enhance and enrich the
learning experience through new technologies. Today, it is used by 10
million students at over 2,500 universities and colleges in 80
countries, and is described as having "revolutionized the way people
teach and learn" (UBC, 2004). In 1999, the WebCT interest merged with
Universal Learning Technologies of Massachusetts, and has offices in
Canada, the US, and Australia. In the process, the product's mission
has expanded from serving purely educational purposes to providing
"enterprise-wide" learning management solutions in all areas of
e-learning and training. Today, the WebCT Campus Edition (CE) is
claimed by its vendor to be a "global market-leading Course Management
System (CMS)" (WebCT website, 2004). The WebCT Vista Academic
Enterprise edition is the latest version. One WebCT user, the New
Mexico State University, indicates (2003), that the company:
". . . is scheduled to discontinue support of its Campus Edition
version in December 2006 leaving only the Vista edition of the course
management system available and supported." (At that point, NMSU
estimates that its annual licensing and running charges will rise from
$40,000 to, in the first year of Vista operation, $650,800 US.) The
estimated first year cost for a perpetual Vista license at New Mexico
State University is $290,400. Additional costs would include an Oracle
license, system hardware, and setup time. The annual maintenance cost
of the perpetual license will be approximately $48,400. Estimated total
first year costs associated with the implementation of a WebCT Vista
course management system at NMSU is $602,400."
The system provides many tools for content creation and delivery within
individual courses. The CE is designed to support single institution
use with limited customization and branding capabilities. It is
scalable and supports integration with campus portals based on JASIG's
uPortal framework a variety of portals and other campus systems.
In seeking to compare the CE with the new Vista, however, the current
evaluation team was unable to obtain unrestricted access despite
attempting to do so via correspondence lasting several weeks ran into a
problem of access. A previous report in the current series, by Fahy
(Report #10), refers to "the right to pilot-test", and states that
"Evaluators should have access to a choice of reference sites".
Obtaining such access in order to evaluate WebCT, however, is evidently
no simple matter. The company's online demos of the CE provide a very
limited view of the product's capabilities. The user is led through a
series of mini-tutorials which stress how easy it is to personalize,
create, customize and evaluate student learning in CE. Due the highly
directed nature of these demos, however, it is difficult to assess the
product's general usability. A number of exemplary courses are made
available on the product website, giving some insight into this from
the student perspective, though not from that of the teacher/ course
developer. More extensive student evaluation than this appears not to
be facilitated, although the vendor does appear interested in enabling
trials of the system by institutions formally interested in adopting
it. This restricted accessibility made it difficult for the current
team to evaluate the two WebCT products fully, and from the point of
view of the six ASTD evaluation criteria used in previous reports in
this series: cost, complexity, control, clarity, common technical
framework, and features. The report presents a general comparison of
the two product versions, therefore, based on online descriptions of
them rather than on direct first-hand experience.
Source is here:http://www.irrodl.org/content/v5.3/technote6.html
My favorite quote comes from a response from WebCT User Community Relations Director, Dr. D.J. Volchuk:
WebCT Vista and Campus Edition are competitively priced in the market place. The various products and license offerings including Campus Edition, Vista Core and Vista Enterprise
are specifically tailored to meet the needs of institutions of all
sizes not just large educational and training institutions with huge
budgets. WebCT Standard Edition has not been available since 2003. WebCT Campus Edition
version 6.0 will be released in spring 2005, and will continue to meet
the needs of our Campus Edition customers for years to come.
WebCT has been extremely flexible in developing pricing models to meet the needs of our customers. Pricing has remained flat for Vista since its release in 2002. Campus Edition increases have ranged from 7 percent - 10 percent per year, and WebCT offers customers the option of multi-year contracts that lock in prices over the contract period.
WebCT has ALWAYS incorporated the feedback of our customers into the product. There are several very active WebCT
Advisory Boards who provide us with specifically this type of input, as
well as a suggestion box at the website, and input through all of the WebCT representatives who regularly visit our customers campuses.
WebCT is financially sound and strong and certainly not in the throes of its last hurrah.