CitySpace Obituary: Anise

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Here are my CitySpace memories.

I joined the E Learning Unit in June 2003 alongside Gilly Reeder, Matt Eanor, Neal Sumner and Susannah Quinsee.  My interest in e-learning stemmed from my previous experience at City University as a student.

When we arrived we had no desks or computers.  Susannah had managed to get hold of some pens and paper.  I spent a lot of that summer using my computer in my bedroom at home learning how to use WebCT Vista (later named City Online Learning and then CitySpace) and sitting on a bench in the sunshine in Northampton Square getting to know my new colleagues and role.  Stressfully, the staff I first trained to use the system were those that had taught me a year or two previously.  (That’s me in the blue top training staff in August 2003).  We setup everything from scratch – the office, a helpdesk, inductions, training, module registration, enrolments, processes, relationships.

An ELU staff development session in a computer lab

Early on we overshot our modest targets and by January 2004 we had our first showcase of teaching and learning using WebCT Vista at City attended by VLE pioneers from across the institution.  In the early days, the system did seem to crash regularly and I remember visitations from distressed academics dealing with disruption and angry students.

VLE use seems standard now but it was relatively new then.  I remember asking students at induction if they had ever used a VLE and no-one putting their hands-up.  I also remember a member of staff asking me what the difference between Google and WebCT was.

During those early years I was knee deep in module registration forms and enrolment lists but they were positive, exciting times.  We knew all the system users personally and knew what was going on in their modules.  Some staff had used a VLE or their own websites but this system with institutional support meant that less techy academics could transform the learning experience for their students.  Yes, it seems clunky and ugly now but at the time it was cutting edge and provided a whole new world of functionality.


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