SmartSite focuses on improving Gradebook

SmartSite kept growing over the summer, gaining ground on its long-term goal of becoming a widely used online resource that can help UC Davis faculty, staff and students teach, research, and collaborate.

The SmartSite group installed a software upgrade with minimal disruption, boosted its training outreach to campus departments, and hosted a well-attended session for administrators in early July.

They also kept plugging away at the top remaining priority for 2008-09: improving its Gradebook digital grading tool so that it will work at least as well--and in fact, will work far better--than the one available through the MyUCDavis course-management tools. Once the SmartSite Gradebook hits that performance mark for a year, the campus intends to retire all the MyUCDavis course tools. (The portal itself will continue.)

The current plan is to retire the MyUCDavis course tools in the spring quarter of 2010, but the date will change if needed, said SmartSite program manager Kirk Alexander. That decision and others will be guided by the SmartSite Oversight Committee created last spring. A pilot project to test the improved SmartSite Gradebook is currently due in spring 2009.

SmartSite, which starts its second year as a campuswide system this fall, runs on the Sakai open-source software developed and supported by a group of more than 100 colleges and universities. Information and Educational Technology installed version 2.5 of Sakai on July 19. The upgrade fixed bugs, improved the user interface, and realigned SmartSite with the Sakai code base to set the stage for future upgrades and patches.

During SmartSite's first academic year as a full system, faculty c reated more than 1,600 course sites, and about as many project sites, for research groups, academic intranets, student projects, discussion forums, and other collaborative uses.

But many faculty have not used SmartSite, so this summer three students in the ET Students program visited faculty advisers in several departments to propose SmartSite training sessions tailored to those particular areas. The students wanted to raise awareness of SmartSite among faculty who don't use it, or who don't take advantage of existing training sessions.

The outreach dovetails with plans by IET-Academic Technology Services to focus more of its SmartSite training in academic departments.

Read more about SmartSite in the TechNews archives. Click here to learn about free training available this fall.