University Information Technology Services
Communications and Planning Office
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
801 W. Michigan St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Phone 317-278-1818
Fax 317-278-1852
Press Release
Contact: Christine Y. Fitzpatrick
Phone: (317) 278-1818
August 11, 1998

Prototype for Web-based Teaching and Learning Environment

to be Tested at IUPUI This Year

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. A prototype Internet-based course environment developed by the Advanced Information Technology Laboratory (AITL) will be tested and piloted during the coming academic year at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The Oncourse system is designed to support Web-based teaching and learning at IU, according to Dr. Ali Jafari, co-director of the AITL and director of its WebLab, which developed the software. Oncourse enables faculty to create multimedia content and use online tools without requiring them to have programming ability or knowledge of HTML, the Hypertext Mark-up Language used to create Web pages. The system is designed to be used with University databases, enabling course templates to be pre-populated with relevant course, student, and faculty information. Faculty may also add their own resources to the course environment, including those that require advanced Web applications such as Java and multimedia.

Trials and testing of this system will be the responsibility of the Teaching and Learning Information Technologies division of University Information Technology Services (UITS). Rick Jackson, manager of data services for the division, is coordinating that effort. Vigorous tests will be conducted during the fall semester, not only of the Oncourse prototype, but also of the infrastructure that supports it. "We want to make sure Oncourse scales well with increased demand, that students and faculty like it, and that we have sufficient support ready to help them if they have problems," said Jackson. UITS will work closely with the Center for Teaching and Learning at IUPUI to provide workshops, seminars, and faculty training during the trial.

Faculty and students involved in the trial will be surveyed and provided opportunities to give feedback about their experiences. Most pilot testers will use Oncourse to augment classroom instruction, though the most exciting opportunity to use the system may be in distance education. Faculty members on other campuses who are not part of the trial will be given opportunities to become familiar with the system, experiment with it on their own, and provide feedback to the WebLab.

Garland C. Elmore, Associate Vice President for Teaching and Learning Information Technologies, IU, and Dean, Information Technology, IUPUI, observed that Oncourse provides many opportunities for faculty to tap the potential of technology without having to code or develop applications. The initiative supports IUs plan to become a national leader in the creative use of information technology. Elmore said that the product offers a consistent Web interface for students as well, accessible from any Internet connection anytime and anywhere. When the trial is completed, students logging onto Oncourse with their University Network ID, may access all their registered courses, course mail, chat, message boards, syllabi, assignments, online testing, and other materials, without the need to change applications and Web sites.

For more information about Oncourse or the WebLab which developed it, faculty should contact Ali Jafari by phone (317-274-4565) or email ( For information about the trials or UITS services, contact Rick Jackson by phone (812-855-6382) or e-mail (


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