Comparing Major Course Websites at Illinois

Comparison-Essay

Nearly every class I’ve taken at the University of Illinois has had some kind of website or web tool that my instructors have used to supplement their own in-class teaching, or collect assignments, or provide course resources. I hope to shed some light on the pros and cons of the three most common tools used by my instructors while I have worked towards my degrees in Finance and Accountancy. These tools include Compass2G, Moodle, and publisher websites.

 

Compass2G

Illinois Compass 2g
Illinois Compass 2g

Compass2G (commonly referred to as just Compass by most of campus) is the official course hosting webpage for the University of Illinois and is used across colleges.

Pros:

  • Most common and therefore most centralized for students to access
  • On-campus support when you run into issues
  • Free for students to access

Cons:

  • Emphasis on folders and subfolders can make it difficult to navigate
  • Requires constant updates by the instructor for due dates, hyperlinks, etc. often resulting in errors and broken links
  • Often abandoned when instructors run into issues

Learn@Illinois (Moodle)

Moodle
Moodle

Learn@Illinois is, in my experience, most commonly used by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and provides much of the same functionality as Compass2G.

Pros:

  • Relatively intuitive for students to access (is often broken down on a week by week basis with links to each week present on every page)
  • Can be customized to meet needs of each class
  • Free for students to access

Cons:

  • Adds an additional website for students to check beyond the standard Compass
  • Lacks a consistent notification system for grade postings, instructor announcements, etc.
  • Amount of information present on sidebars while on any one page can be overwhelming

Textbook Publisher Websites

Cengage
Cengage

Offerings can include Cengage, Connect, and Pearson Mastering Lab among many others. While each is laid out differently, they share many characteristics.

Pros:

  • Clearly designed and organized for the specific course being offered
  • Often 24/7 technical support for students by web or phone
  • Requires minimal maintenance work from instructors, lessening the number of errors present

Cons:

  • Introduces a course specific website to check that is completely separate from others
  • Instructors tend to defer all questions about the website to the publishers rather than answering them themselves
  • Often costly to students with prices ranging from $50-$200+ with the price independent of the quality of the resource provided

There are obviously a good number of other resources available to both students and instructors looking to supplement their classes, but hopefully this post has provided a sense of why people have used them and what aspects could be changed to provide a better user experience for students.

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