SmartSite arrives. Ready?

The pilot stage is done. From here on out, SmartSite is the main online course-management and collaboration system for UC Davis.

That means its new set of tools is now fully available to help instructors, researchers, staffers and students work and learn together online--with features that exceed the course tools available through the MyUCDavis Web portal.

The rollout is one of the top technological stories on campus this year, as well as the most documented. The system has been updated in each issue of the IT Times since mid-2006, and has been explored and described in brochures, training sessions, how-to tips, discussions, presentations, official communications, and workshops all year. Dateline featured the new system Sept. 21.

The quantity and variety of training has been expanded to keep pace with the rollout. The campus is offering about 25 percent more SmartSite workshops this fall than it did in the spring, said Steve Faith, faculty technology training coordinator, and nearly twice as many as were offered a year ago. They include sessions for faculty, staff and students in general, as well as for specific groups.

A person who doesn't know anything about SmartSite can usually obtain a basic working knowledge of how to use the system in about two hours, he added.

As of summer, about 14,000 students, 1,000 faculty, and 4,400 staff members have used SmartSite in some form. That number is now climbing by the week.

"A new phase is about to begin for UC Davis--a phase that encourages new forms of communication, learning, collaboration, and community building," said Pete Siegel, chief information officer and vice provost for Information and Educational Technology, in a letter to faculty, staff and students in May. "I invite you to join us and experience it for yourself."

Learn more about the system--how it works, the open-source Sakai software it uses, advice from faculty who already teach with it, plus where you can find training, help or pedagogical advice--here.