Campus to Expand Use of Online Class Portal

Management System bSpace to Replace Existing Web Sites, Link to School Registrar’s Database

A new Internet portal for students and faculty to exchange information is set to enter widespread use this fall, allowing students to access information for multiple classes from a single Web site.

UC Berkeley’s new electronic “collaboration and learning environment”-bSpace-will replace current class management tools Blackboard, WebCT and CourseWeb by the end of the school year, said Victor Edmonds, director of Educational Technology Services on campus.

The primary reason for the switch to bSpace from previous systems, according to Edmonds, was to give the campus more control over the software in use.

“The main reason was more control. We didn’t want our destiny in the hands of some other company,” Edmonds said.

Earlier systems were created and owned by separate companies, which charge the campus a licensing fee.

On the other hand, bSpace is UC Berkeley’s version of software developed by the Sakai Project, a group of universities who are trying to create an open-source class management tool. Because of this, the software is available for free to the university.

“We figured at one point that it would cost well over $1 million to use other commercial software for licensing, integrating, and support,” Edmonds said.

The Sakai Project was started by the University of Michigan, Indiana University, and Stanford University, with UC Berkeley joining the project early on in its development.

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