August 17, 2009 — Since October 2007, nearly 1,700 University of Virginia faculty members have made the switch from the Instructional Toolkit to the new course-management software, UVaCollab.
For the rest, now is the time: Information and Technology Communication is pulling the plug on the decade-old Instructional Toolkit.
Toolkit has been set to a read-only format, which means that its archives are still available, but you can't create new course Web sites. UVaCollab is up and running and is fully integrated with the new Student Information System.
The faculty who have made the switch seem happy with UVaCollab, said Trisha Gordon, ITC's project leader for the transition and the person responsible for user support for the new software.
"There has been a little grumbling from faculty who like Toolkit – it does what they need it to do," Gordon said. "Change is hard, and they don't want to give up what they are used to."
The benefits of making the change are plentiful, she said. UVaCollab is based upon open-source software from the Sakai Foundation, and was developed by and for a consortium of higher education institutions. Because the software is not proprietary, it can be more easily modified to meet the needs of individual institutions, she noted.
UVaCollab offers easy access to external Web applications; for example, it can interface with blogs, chats and wikis. It's also easy to give non-U.Va. people access, if needed, Gordon said.
For those who still need to make the switch, ITC is offering three guides in PDF format, online demos and tutorials and in-person demos. For information, visit the UVaCollab Web site.
UVaCollab is supported by the new UVa Help Desk, which is available around the clock, either by dialing 4-HELP (434-924-4357) or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.