UCLA students may soon find that waiting for gradecards, scanning progress reports on bulletin boards, and sifting through printed class information are only distant memories. Technology developers at UCLA have created an Electronic Gradebook system, and with the online project comes the beginning of a new era in relationships between faculty and students at California's largest university.
Now available campuswide after months of testing, UCLA faculty are using the Electronic Gradebook as an optional method of class record management, grading and increased communication with students.
When faculty employ the Electronic Gradebook, students can access a range of new services, including online review of grades, academic progress, messages from their professors and other information that is viewable 24 hours a day over the Internet from their individual MyUCLA page, the personalized academic Web gateway (http://my.ucla.edu).
"The Electronic Gradebook is becoming an important tool that eases the burden of paperwork, and also helps to build even stronger links between our faculty and students," said Brian Copenhaver, provost of the College of Letters & Science. "While other universities offer some of the features of e-grading, this is the first system that combines many services into an integrated online package."
In development at UCLA for more than a year, the Electronic Gradebook can be used by faculty to record grades throughout the academic quarter, inform students of test scores, distribute comments, assign projects and transmit final grades to the campus registrar - all from a secure, easy-to-use Web site.
Fully customizable by each instructor, the Electronic Gradebook can be adapted to suit individual class management needs. Faculty can use the Electronic Gradebook to:
¬∑ create a gradebook that offers variable weighting for different kinds of academic performance - final examinations, midterm tests, papers, class participation, special projects or any other performance indicators chosen by the instructor
¬∑ automatically schedule projects for students
¬∑ inform students of their academic progress during the quarter
¬∑ use calculation features that automatically recommend a grade
¬∑ modify and update individual grades throughout the academic quarter
¬∑ submit final grades to the registrar online or by paper
¬∑ automatically alert students to deadlines, testing schedules and other class milestones
¬∑ communicate with individual students about their grades, or discuss study material with an entire class
The Electronic Gradebook can be used throughout the academic year, or for final grades only.
"Students are very interested in tracking their academic progress, and the Electronic Gradebook is an ideal tool they can use to monitor their classroom work," said Jeffrey Lew, lecturer in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and instructor of the university's popular courses on air pollution and meteorology.
"Core courses require many types of projects that are assigned different weights when the final grades are determined, so it's important for students to have access to an up-to-date summary of their performance," Lew said. "Through the Electronic Gradebook, we enter scores in students' records, and the information is immediately accessible.
"Clearly, we have reached the 21st century in managing information in the classroom," Lew said.
When using the Electronic Gradebook, faculty can submit final results directly to the campus registrar, eliminating grade rosters and manual keypunch entry of each grade. Grades can be viewed immediately by students, and are included in official university records within 48 hours of submission.
The Electronic Gradebook includes extensive security features and encryption similar to the online protection used for banking systems, and operates in full compliance with state and federal privacy laws. The system was created by the College Information Services staff in UCLA's College of Letters & Science in cooperation with the university's Registrar, Office of Administrative Information Systems, and Office of Audit and Advisory Services.
"Thanks to the active cooperation of dozens of UCLA staff, we have created an online system for class record management that will work effectively and also protect the privacy of all involved," Copenhaver said.
The Electronic Gradebook is accessible through UCLA's groundbreaking "MyUCLA," the personalized academic Web gateway developed for undergraduates in 1997 that is now also available to faculty, staff and graduate students.
MyUCLA (http://my.ucla.edu/) is the portal to a multi-layered wealth of online information. MyUCLA is organized so students can instantly view their class schedules, visit their personal course Web sites, learn about online resource links for each class, track key milestones through an online academic calendar, see records of petitions, participate in online sessions with academic counselors, order class books, and contact student services, organizations, and publications at UCLA - plus the new Electronic Gradebook features.
UCLA and Information Technology
UCLA is one of the nation's leading universities in creating advances in computing technology for students. In September 1997, UCLA was America's first major university to introduce a Web site for virtually all of its undergraduate courses - more than 3,000 sites - a project that debuted simultaneously with the MyUCLA Web portal.
The university also provides more than 1,000 computers in student computing labs and technology facilities across the campus, many of which are available 24 hours a day; hundreds of data ports for PC access in university residence halls and libraries; and advanced peripherals, software and computing support for specialized student needs.
In October 2000, the university held its first online student election, conducted for a total net cost of $150.
UCLA is routinely ranked among America's top universities in Yahoo's annual "Most Wired Colleges" survey.
The College of Letters & Science at UCLA
The College of Letters & Science at UCLA is the largest and most comprehensive academic organization in the University of California system. The College houses nearly all of UCLA's undergraduate majors, and the vast majority of the university's academic departments, research and graduate training. Eleven of the College's academic departments are nationally ranked among the top ten in their fields, and 27 College departments are ranked in the top 20 nationally.
UCLA, one of the nation's premier research institutions, also teaches more undergraduates than any other university in California (25,011 undergraduates among 34,444 total students). For the fourth year in a row, UCLA is America's most popular university for new applicants.