Non-accessible e-learning: lawsuit against an institution using WebCT

“A former Capella University student has filed a lawsuit against the online institution, claiming that it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by using technology that does not accommodate his learning disabilities.” (by The Chronicle of Higher Education via matkalla)

The technology used in the Capella was WebCT.

I think the student has a point in here. I am not an expert of WebCT, but colleague of mine was lately using it and wrote pretty good review about the poor support for web standards in the WebCT. The use of JavaScript and frames seems to be a hack to “protect” the content inside WebCT, so saving it locally would be more difficult. Read the content and remember it!

In WebCT they probably seriously think that learning happens by scanning content with your eyes and then saving it in your personal hard disk located in your head. “Learning without limits” – as their slogans says.

It’s interesting how the Learning Management Systems, such as the WebCT, reminds of the monastery model of schooling. “Authority sets the goal and chooses a closed group of people to implement it” writes Pekka Himanen in his article The Academy and the Monastery (also a chapter in his book The Hacker Ethics).

It’s not illegal to run a monastery, but to call your monastery academy is cheating.

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5 Responses to “Non-accessible e-learning: lawsuit against an institution using WebCT”

  1. bern says:

    WebCT does have a tool by which the content can be compiled into a printable form. Like many of the tools in WebCT it can be turned off. It sounds to me as though much of WebCT's flexibility was crippled perhaps by a teacher/trainer/professor who was not sufficiently trained in its use.

    I agree though that WebCT's navigation can be a nightmare, though it's not compulsory for it to be so.

  2. Alan Cooper says:

    "In WebCT they probably seriously think that learning happens by scanning content with your eyes and then saving it in your personal hard disk located in your head…."

    Oh how second millenium of them! (sounds just like reading a book)

    These bookish monks will never adapt to the new paradigm in which all information is instantly searchable and our sensory input will be filtered through a Google designed response generator which instantly feeds us with the cleverest response that has ever been generated – or could ever be imagined on the basis of past responses to related data. Of course there'll be no need to vocalize that response, since everyone else will be simultaneously accessing the same facility and we'll all think as one. No more arguments, no more war, eternal peace and harmony in the embrace of the universal Googlemind … gottaloveit!

  3. corrie says:

    It has been pretty well determined that the student was rather a troublemaker, Capella followed their policies and procedures to the letter, and the suit is likely to get tossed out.

    I don't know how it works at Phoenix, but at Capella (and its progenitor, Walden) learning happens when a student accesses a wide variety of content and synthesizes it into something new, be that a paper, a project, or a dissertation.

  4. Rolph says:

    Looks like corrie is a trouble maker who works for Capella University. Her resume is posted at:

    http://rocky.itasca.net/~corrie/resume_Corrie_Bergeron_030924a.htm...

    Capella must be getting worried. I was just looking at another site

    http://capellalawsuit.info/student_complaints.html...

    and there are a lot of posts made by Capella students about how horrible WebCT is. It also looks like the instructor involved was a Diane Stottlemyer who bought her degrees from a diploma mill and yet Capella let her teach, even though they knew about her fake diplomas from Lacrosse University.

  5. Vic says:

    Sometimes I wonder whether the ease with which we can simply cut and paste and store info for any topic is indeed a good thing…it just strikes me that we spend little time synthesising the information we store…on the other hand, if there are indeed some restrictions ( be they artificial) that kind of tell us, "Ok, guys, you have some time to think about what you have just read," maybe we will all be better off

    Sure, you can get anything off google into your research paper in a few seconds, but I am wondering if that ease has made research papers any better or more original…

    Vic, Ffree & Open Source WWW Resources

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