Choosing Instructional Tools

Online Tools

Instructors at PCC have a number of online tools available for communicating with students, distributing materials, and managing courses. Although it is not practical in this document to give exact advice on which online tool will best fit every instructional need, these guidelines will help you form a basis for that decision. Keep in mind that a combination of tools is often possible. For example, you can combine e-Reserve use with any of the other tools. The same applies to using quizzes or discussions inside of Desire2Learn.

In general, for those new to the online environment, it is recommended that you try the course tools in MyPCC. For those who have been using Desire2Learn, we recommended that you keep using that tool for now, but explore using MyPCC with one of your other classes. You'll find advantages and disadvantages with both. To discuss your specific situation and instructional needs, contact Greg Kaminski.

Choose the Right Tool For the Job

Choose a tool to learn more about when to use it:

Use MyPCC (course tools) if...

  • You are just starting out in the world of online tools, and you would like a simple system for class communication, distributing files, photos, web links, and a course calendar.
  • You'd like a simple way to post class announcements or to email students at their PCC email address.
  • You'd like your course materials in a protected area, accessible only to your students.
  • The materials you post do not need to be organized in a specific linear format, as in following through a document progression of an online class.
  • You would like to upload various types of files without converting (e.g. doc, pdf, ppt, xls).
  • You would like students to be able to upload homework files to share with you. (Note: file submission dates not provided.)
  • You'd like a system that creates your course tools automatically without the need for a special request each term.
  • You do not need to use a quiz or survey tool.
  • You would like to "copy" your materials to a new course section without recreating everything.

Use PCC/WebEasy (instructional web pages) if...

  • You do not plan to use communication tools such as discussions and chat.
  • You would like to create simple class specific web pages using a basic editor.
  • You would like your web pages to appear in a publicly accessible area.
  • You would mainly like to post your syllabi and some handouts that contain links and images. You expect to have fewer than 20 web documents at any one time.
  • You would like to create direct links to articles or files you have placed on Library Reserves.
  • You would like to type your information into a web page, or upload a pdf file. (You can link to files of other types, or to files on Library Reserves, but you cannot upload other types.)
  • You would like to have a direct link to your web page from the PCC staff directory.
  • You would like to see how many hits your pages are receiving.
  • You are already accustomed to using PCC/WebEasy and would like to keep using it for the time being.

Use Spot (instructional website) if...

  • You already have a website on spot and would like to continue that process.
  • You are already proficient at building and publishing web pages, and you prefer to have more control over the structure and design of your site.
  • You plan to publish a very large number of web pages.
  • You would like your web pages to appear in a publicly accessible area.
  • You do not care about usage stats.
  • You do not plan to use communication tools such as discussions and chat.

Use Desire2Learn if...

  • You are already using Desire2Learn and would like to keep using it for the time being.
  • You'd like your course materials in a protected area, accessible only to your students.
  • You would like to use online quizzes or surveys, especially those that are automatically graded.
  • You would like to use a class discussion board with a clearer interface, one that alerts you when there are new messages, one that tells which messages you have read, and which you haven't.
  • You would like to use a class discussion board that allows for anonymous posting, and for the creation of small private discussion groups.
  • You would like to compile and download or print discussions.
  • You would like to selectively release items to students based on a condition, e.g. by time or by passing a quiz.
  • You would like an easy way for students to upload assignments.
  • You would like to keep track of student assignment grades, and for students to have access to their individual grades as well.
  • You would like to track student activity in using the online components. (e.g. discussion messages read/posted, time spent on different content pages).
  • You have a little more time to handle a somewhat higher learning & development curve, depending on what tools you plan to use.

Use Library Reserves if...

  • You would like to submit documents or articles to the library to place in the online reserves area, accessible only to the PCC community or only to your specific class.
  • You would like to make a copyright protected article available only to your students.
  • You would like to check the usage stats for your documents.
  • You don't really want to use a web page or other online tools.