Off the Twitter Timeline: Clunky WebCT

Summize provides a great way to troll for what people are saying. Beyond just searching for a term, it provides RSS feeds for terms. I follow several, such Blackboard and WebCT. The WebCT one netted me the following tweet:

annoyed with how clunky webct can be at times – it had to have been designed circa 2000 – amandakern

WebCT products, whether CE or Vista, have always been clunky. Ease of use has always been a problem with the products. Any improvements Vista made were offset by so many more tools and options to make it the net effect more clunky. I’ve seen some sales people and Dr. Cs whip through the navigation like it is easy to use Vista. Practice makes perfect. Too bad the developers can’t be perfect.

Whenever I see schools pick a product, I think the ones who have Ease of use on their list probably have been using WebCT legacy products for years as opposed to Blackboard products. They and their faculty are scarred enough they cannot afford to get it wrong on ease of use again.

IMS Data Going to Wrong Place

I should know better than to trust documentation over my own intuition. Or to change based on what others tell me.

I followed:

Log in to Vista Enterprise as a Server Administrator or Institution Administrator.
NOTE: To set glcid, you must log in as a Server Administrator.

From the Administration tab, click the Utilities tab.
Click Settings.

Under System Integration, click System Integration API IMS….

Enter values to configure settings. See the table that follows, Standard and IMS Adapter
details on each value.

Click Save Values. The Settings screen appears and the settings are configured.

Standard and IMS Adapter Settings
The following table describes the parameters you can set using the administration user interface.
Setting Description
GlcId

• Stands for global learning context identifier.
Set by Server Administrator only.
Required to run IMS and Standard adapter
commands.

• Identifies the institution in which the adapter
command runs
• Automatically assigned by Vista Enterprise
upon creation of an institution

Of course, it doesn’t say which Glcid, right? After all, every learning context has a Glcid. Since, at the time I only had one institution (before I created the 54 others), I set the Glcid to the one for that institution. Should it be the Glcid for the server or domain learning context? If so, then couldn’t Blackboard just pre-populate it at the time of install? Why do I need to put it there?

At the same time, I didn’t believe it necessary because I had seen IMS imports work without the Glcid set at the server learning context. They worked because the command used to run the IMS import has the glcid.

The result? My imports went into the the institution with the Glcid set at the server learning context, despite the defining in the command I ran to use a different Glcid. Removing the Glcid from the server learning context settings allowed the command to work as I thought it should.

So much for a pristine, clean database.

RSS Is Relatively New?

The email was an innocuous “Ooh, shiney!” message. RSS feeds are now available for a status site. However, one thing concerned me….

RSS is a relatively new and easy way to distribute content and information via the Internet.

I personally have been aware of RSS since 2002. However, as I am a relatively late adopter of technology, I was not surprised to learn RSS has been around since July 1999. This technology has been available for nine years. 1999 is the same year IE5 became available. That is a few months before Windows 2000 became available. This is before the technology bust which weeded out much of the Internet craps. (Are we due for another one of those?) Next year we can celebrate the 10th anniversary of RSS. Can we really call it new when we celebrate it being around for a decade?

The point of “relatively” was to soften the word new. I was supposed to be mollified by it isn’t really new but it isn’t really old and is closer to new than old. It just sounded to me like whoever wrote it only heard about RSS within the past two years or so. So maybe the message was more “Ooh, shiney!” for them than for me.