Many universities seem to start classes around April 20. I think this delay is not for avoiding an effect of coronavirus. It looks hard to start face-to-face classroom so far, and universities are preparing to start classes with online or self-study style in that delay.
I'd like to announce our plan to support WebClass users.
Current shedule in this April
- We will complete in-progress operations in this spring season (maintenances and tunings).
- We will release an emergency update patch around April 17
Our understanding of current situation about starting classes in colleges
Many WebClass user universities are considering using WebClass more widely than before for enabling students to take classes at home. So, we've been receiving many inquiries from server specifications to confirm a capacity of usage with current servers.
I know that each college has thir schedules, but we consider the date when many colleges start classes is on April 20. So, we will deploy our announcements and an update patch with the deadline of the day.
We decided that our staffs should avoid mass transit or congestion for commuting. So, we'are working at home or coming and leaving our office at off-peak hours if commuting is required. We believe that our staff's health is absolutely necessary to support the uses of WebClass.
Then, we will respond to requests and inquiries from users. And we will send information about technical operations and user operations that would be helpfull for all users.
About patch releases
To support online classes, I would like to adjust the WebClass function as much as possible by the start of the class on April 20th.
The following are current plans.
- implement LTI integration features for each course or teacher
- improve usability of chat tool and fix issues of report assignments features.
About LTI Collaboration
Many of the questions we've been receiving are related to videos : Can we broadcast my class on online video?
WebClass has a pseudo-streaming function called HLS, but the WebClass server currently installed at many universities does not consider full-scale distribution of class movies, and does not secure simultaneous access resistance and hard disk capacity.
We think that successful use of external video services and video conferencing systems will provide benefits in terms of server capacity and the time required for teachers to prepare videos. For example, the following preliminary survey was conducted to link to Zoom.us.
I think it is worth trying to integrate with other systems with LTI. And if teacher can install other tool integration with their free account, teacher can prepare their class flexibly.
Adjust chat and reporting features
Even if we use videos of classes or live broadcasting with video meeting syste, I think it is very hard for students to be occupied by watching three or four ninety-minutes long videos a day for studying. So, we need other course tool too.
WebClass includes some helpful tools: attendance, surveys, chats, report assignments, and more. We will improve chats and report assignment tools to make them easier to use.