For faculty who are interested in posting materials online, IT offers several options: Blogs, Moodle, UDrive, and Web Hosting. Each service has its strengths and weaknesses so be sure that the service you choose matches your instructional goals. Several services can be used in combination for a single course.
An important distinction between site services is that some are wide open to the Internet (such as Web Hosted sites or blogs) while others only allow restricted access (such as Moodle).Others, such as UDrive, can be controlled in a variety of ways. Access to your site depends on the purpose of the site and the type of material you are posting. Access should always be restricted when there are issues of student privacy (FERPA) or copyright.
In addition to their personal IT Account, faculty can receive an IT Account for each course they teach. With a Course IT Account, you get UMail, UDrive, Blog, and Web Hosting services that can be used exclusively for your courses. Instructors can create Course IT Accounts in SPIRE.
Moodle courses must be set up separately and will connect with SPIRE to create the course and fill the course roster. Instructors can request Moodle courses in SPIRE.
Note: To obtain a Course IT Account or a Moodle course, you need to be listed as the Primary or Secondary Instructor for that course in SPIRE. Contact the Academic Scheduling Representative in your department if your SPIRE information needs to be updated.
The UDrive service gives you (and your students) online file storage. By default, this space is private, but files and directories can be shared with individuals, groups, or the public. If all you need is a simple space to post handouts and assignment files, UDrive is a good option.
For more details, see: UDrive.
Blogging software makes it easy to maintain a simple, public, site. You choose from a set of customizable designs and post announcements using an online form. You can also post static pages (such as a syllabus), links, files and images. Additional tools can allow students to comment on posts or contribute their own. A blog gives you everything you need for a simple course site, plus extra features, without much effort.
For more details, see Blogs at UMass Amherst.
Moodle's Web-based interface makes it easy to post course content on a site that can only be accessed by students who are registered for your class. As fully-featured Learning Management System (LMS), Moodle also allows you to add special tools to your site, such as online chats, forum discussions, assignments, and quizzes.
Moodle can also help manage student data. The roster and grade book is updated daily during the semester with roster information from SPIRE. You can use the grade book to record and calculate grades, or download the roster data to Excel and work there. Data from other sources can be imported into the grade book to combine all the data for a course in one place. At the end of the semester, final grades in Moodle can be transferred to SPIRE to make the grading process simpler.
For more information about Moodle, see our Moodle documentation section
Web hosting gives you empty server space and lets you build a site yourself. You can write it in HTML or use software such as NVu (free) or Dreamweaver (commercial) to build, post, and maintain your site. Web Hosting requires attention to detail and technical proficiency, and is not for everyone.