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Terry Stewart


What's the difference between CHALLENGE and WebCT?

Note: The CHALLENGE Suite (with the exception of CHALLENGE FRAP) has been discontinued.  This is an archive site which describes CHALLENGE as it was between 2002 and 2004 for historical purposes.  See this link for further information.  The PBL work now continues with this project (Terry Stewart - 23rd June, 2005)

As I've been receiving feedback on CHALLENGE it's come to my attention that people invariably seem to compare it to WebCT. The two products can complement each other but they are two very different things. WebCT is a Virtual Learning Environment which incorporates a series of tools for delivering course materials over the web.  CHALLENGE is an authoring and delivery tool designed to author and present, problem-based scenarios via computer.  

These scenarios, FRAP forms and the CHALLENGE player, can be delivered to students over the web  using a WebCT learning environment. In this case, students would download them from a WebCT site, install them in their machines and upload (or email in) their reports.

One might ask "Can't problem-based scenarios simply be written as a series of webpages, and delivered from the WebCT server for viewing in the browser"?  The answer is yes, just as problem-based scenarios can be written on paper or a white board.  However, for complex scenarios CHALLENGE has advantages over a more linear method of presentation.  These can be summarised by the table below:

Functionality CHALLENGE Scenarios Scenario Webpages in WebCT
Allows media-rich descriptions of rooms, objects, people, situations etc. to presented to students Yes Yes
Allows objects to be collected and transported to a different locations or rooms Yes No
Can use icons to represent rooms, people, places, tasks and objects Yes Yes
Allows objects to be manipulated, examined or tested depending on their location Yes No
Can associate costs with any activity. (looking, testing, using) Yes No
Easy way of applying tests to objects in the scenario Yes No
Provided tailored feedback depending on student activity Yes No
Ask multichoice questions during the scenario and mark them Yes Yes
Ask short answer questions during the scenario Yes Yes
Student reporting functions Yes Yes
*Secure student reports Yes (through encryption) Yes (saved on server)
Log student activity Yes Yes
*Tutor pickup must be emailed to tutor or uploaded to appropriate site manually Tutor collects information directly from Website or is emailed information from a form
*Software Needs client software installed (CHALLENGE Player) Browser only
*Scenario delivery to students Lab machines, CD-ROM, email, or web download to their own machines Online using browser
Specific authoring tool for problem-based scenarios Yes No

* The Challenge java servlet, planned for the next phase of CHALLENGE (providing it is popular enough) will allow these functions to be similar to WebCT.