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"The Dog Ate My Homework" and other WebCT Classics
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by Kenwrick Chan

Here are solutions to some of the most common problems reported by users to the WebCT Administrators.

My students say WebCT was down last night, is there any way to verify this?

Whenever a user connects to the WebCT server, the request is recorded to a log file. We can look through our log files to determine if the server was up and receiving and responding to requests. That only tells a portion of the story though. It's possible that the WebCT server is up and responding to requests, but the student may not be able to connect to it.

How does a student attempt to resolve the problem? Imagine that you're at home, turn on the television, and all you get is a screen full of static. What's our first instinct? Change the channel. We tell our users to do the same thing. If you try connecting to the WebCT server and nothing comes up, then try another server, our main web server (http://www.hawaii.edu). If both servers fail to come up, then there could be a problem somewhere in the network in between the user's computer and the UH network. Try connecting to another Web site (like http://www.cnn.com or some other Web site). If that fails then there's a good chance there is a problem with their computer's ability to connect to the network.

My student says they've changed an answer to a quiz, but "WebCT" didn't recognize the change.

Each time a user clicks on the Save button during a quiz, that request is sent back to the server for processing. The current answer is stored along with the time that the user saved the question. The screen is then updated to reflect that the question was saved. As an instructor of the course all of this information is available to you when you look at the submissions for a quiz. If a student changed an answer you'll see that question number being changed for each time the student clicked on Save.

A good approach to dealing with the mechanics of quiz taking is to have a simple non-credit type of quiz early in the semester. This allows the students to test run by taking a quiz on the equipment they're going to be using in the class early enough to flush any user or technical issues. Rather than waiting until mid terms to give the first real quiz, many instructors administer small weekly quizzes as a means to "force" the student to keep pace, especially with courses that contain a significant amount of material.

One of my students says that he can log into WebCT and enter my class, but when he clicks on the links nothing happens?

Unfortunately there isn't enough information here for us to have a clear picture of what could be happening to the user. We could guess, but we really need more. We tell instructors to have the student fill out an online problem report (accessed from the link on the WebCT server). The online report collects information about the user's Web browser, Web browser setup, operating system, and network. With all of that information we can better access what could be causing the problem for the student.

If we were to take a guess at this point I'd say it was possibly the user having a pop up blocker installed that is preventing a new window from appearing when they click on a link or tool. When the user fills out a problem report we respond with suggestions to help in resolving the issue based on computer make and Web browser.

My student attempts to login to my course but gets an “access denied” error message.

During the "add/drop" registration period you may encounter students who receive an “access denied” status on your WebCT course listing (they appear on your Banner list, but not on your WebCT list) or perhaps you receive reports from students that they can't get into your course. Should you let the student back in? In most cases, yes add the student back in. Generally speaking, denied access users are users who have dropped then added the course back again. WebCT defaults to this behavior because we've enabled a server setting to leave a student's record intact after the user drops the course. That way if they re-enter the course all of their work will remain intact (however the faculty needs to reactivate them). The only way the user's directory will be deleted is if the faculty explicitly deletes the student record.

To insure that you're viewing your complete student list, select "Change Settings" in the "Organize" section of "Student Management" and click on the "Go" button (to get to Student Management click on the Control Panel, then Manage Course). Then toggle the setting to show access denied users (if need be) and click on "Update". In the "Options: Advanced" section select "Allow students access" and click on the "Go" button.

For additional tips see our FAQ pages for faculty and students:

 
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