Open Menu Close Menu

Distance Learning Tools

Online Course Delivery and Development Tools

Blackboard 5

Blackboard 5 is an end-to-end solution that enables higher education institutions to provide students, faculty, staff, and alumni with a full slate of online servicesincluding a campus portalin one scalable package. Blackboard 5 combines the features and technology of Blackboard CourseInfo and the mission-critical and scalable Blackboard CourseInfo Enterprise Edition with expanded portal capabilities and other new features, such as a course management system, a customizable "My Institution" portal, online communities, Web-based integration with other campus administrative systems, full e-mail, and e-commerce capabilities. The portal capability is one of Blackboard 5's most powerful features, allowing colleges and universities to provide a wealth of information management capabilities, including more than 150 personalized news and information sources. They can also customize the look of their online environment and access links to campus departments, bookstores, libraries, and other important areas. All of the features are delivered through a technology platform that integrates with existing campus systems. Blackboard 5 replaces the CourseInfo and CourseInfo Enterprise Edition products. It is available at a number of annual licensing levels, ranging from a course management environment to a total enterprise solution that can be integrated real time with other campus computing systems. Contact: Blackboard, Washington, D.C.; (202)463-4860;

COLLEGIS Instructional Support Services

COLLEGIS assesses and implements customized solutions for any institution, regardless of the course delivery product in use. COLLEGIS technology professionals work onsite with clients and their staff through long-term partnerships to help them in all facets of their operations, including data center management, development and implementation of strategic and tactical plans, design and implementation of network solutions, expansion of technology to enhance instruction (such as through distance learning), and development of technology migration strategies. Instructors can incorporate online course components emphasizing collaboration and analyze and manage the instructional process. Departments can deliver instruction entirely online and incorporate community-building activities by creating and managing home pages, online discussions, and indexed document and media libraries. Contact: COLLEGIS, Maitland, FL; (407) 660-1199;

Convene Ac@deme

The Convene Learning Internet Platform provides a flexible, open-design online campus. Users choose the format, components, and tools for online course registration, interactive online testing, real-time chat, whiteboard technology, and audio and video classroom conferencing. The open architecture allows for an entirely Web-based course, a combination of technologies, or an extension of existing ones. Contact: Convene, San Francisco, CA; (800) CONVENE;


Education-to-Go offers an easy, cost-effective entry into online education. By providing pre-packaged online courses, Education-to-Go allows institutions to bypass development costs and get into distance education instantly. Currently offered are dozens of courses in computer skills, graphic design, financial planning, and other topics. All courses are instructor-led, asynchronous, collaborative learning environments and do not require students to have special equipment or high-speed Internet access. Contact: Education-to-Go, Temecula, CA; (909) 506-6647;

CampusPortal 4.0 is's enterprise-wide solution for bringing campus services and community access online.'s product provides students self-service, asynchronous learning, both on and off campus. CampusPortal 4.0 allows users to develop and deliver a robust campus Intranet in about 45-90 days; offer personalized home pages for everyone in the community; provide online access to campus services, courses, and productivity tools; track users and site usage statistics; and generate automated reports and analysis. Contact, Denver, CO; (888) 884-7325; helps institutions build, deploy, and maintain Web-enhanced and Web-based courses. All development tools and courses are available via a Web browser, eliminating the need for special software. offers two levels of service: Core, which includes tools, hosting, training, and help desk access; and a Life-Cycle program, which provides planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of online programs. Contact:, Morrisville, NC; (877) 338-7747;

e-Education's e-Education is a full-service provider of all aspects of online education. In addition to its online course management software, the product line replicates services provided throughout a college or university's traditional campus and markets online education programs regionally, nationally, and internationally. A comprehensive suite of software tools enables faculty to create, edit, and manage online courses. Also available are an online course catalog and online electronic library. Contact:, Englewood, CO; (800) 701-6463;


A powerful e-learning management tool, IngeniumEnterpriseEditionfrom click2learn.comcanlaunchandtrack e-Learning courses created with ToolBook II Instructor and Assistant. With Ingenium Web Connect, users can track results for e-Learning courseware from NETg, SkillSoft, and, as well as Macromedia Authorware courses. Through skills-gap analysis, Ingenium can track employees' skill and competency requirements and facilitate learning to close any skill requirement gaps. Ingenium Enterprise Edition is designed for high performance in large, multi-site and global organizations. Using Oracle or Microsoft SQL databases, Ingenium Enterprise can support tens of thousands of users. Contact:, Bellevue, WA; (800) 448-6543;

PREP Online

PREP Online combines online training with assessment and course development in a single package. Adaptive assessments allow instructors to tailor an appropriate curriculum for each student and to design and customize an online learning environment using a template system, their own content, or that of external vendors. PREP Online's content delivery style can range from dynamic media-rich content using plug-ins and helper applications to content libraries where learners use search engines to find and review specific topics. Creators can use a diagram builder to develop interactive simulations and demonstrations. Contact: PREP, Ph'enix, AZ; (800) 228-1027;

Rotor Learning System

This live, easy-to-use Internet-based distance learning system delivers dynamic teacher-student interaction through a two-way exchange. Instructors appear in the audio/video window of the student interface and lecture as if to a regular classroom. Students can ask questions, see diagrams and pictures, hold discussions, and take pop quizzes. Each response is recorded automatically to track student participation. Contact: Rotor Learning System, Los Angeles, CA; (213) 639-2676;


TopClass from WBT Systems is a course development system featuring easy-to-use tools for building Web content. TopClass 4, which can handle user communities of 10,000 or more, has comprehensive facilities for organizing information, providing collaboration, and tracking results. TopClass features include personalized course management, comprehensive testing, linked discussion groups, and support of any Web-compatible applications to deliver streaming media, animation, and videoconferencing. Through TopClass Publisher and Assistants, Microsoft Office documents or existing Web pages can be automatically transformed into learning content. Contact: WBT Systems, San Francisco, CA 94107; (877) TOP-CLASS;


Vcampus consists of more than 1,100 Web-based courses as well as a full-featured Web-based registration, tracking, and reporting system to facilitate the delivery and administration of online learning. Courses are in the areas of compliance, information technology, vocational technology, management, office skills, personal development, health care, and telecommunications, and others. The product offers a fully customizable learning environment; enrollment, registration, and payment functions; several built-in reporting functions; and progress tracking by means of its Gradebook, Transcript, and Training Plan software. Contact: UOL Publishing, McLean, VA; (800) 915-9298;


WebCT is an integrated set of course tools that faculty can use to design, develop, and manage Web-based and Web-enhanced courses. It provides features for customizing publisher materials and partnerships with systems integration firms that make WebCT an enterprise-wide solution. New version 2.1 handles more than 3 millions users. Contact: WebCT, Inc., Peabody, MA; (978) 538-0036;

Web Development Tools

NetCloak 3.0

NetCloak 3.0 from Maxum is a Web server enhancement package that allows users to create interactive, dynamic Web sites. With NetCloak's extension commands, users can insert dynamic information such as page counters or include different content in pages based on cookies, browser type, username, IP address, random numbers, and other information. With these users can rotate random graphics, hide links from unauthorized users, and automatically insert headers and footers. NetCloak Pro adds HTML forms­processing features to create or update Web pages through a browser, create online discussion forums, and produce a range of forms for e-mail and other applications. Contact: Maxum Development Corp., CrystalLake,IL;(800)813-3410;

OMNIS Studio

OMNIS Studio 2.1 is a flexible, rapid-application development tool that allows developers to create business and mission-critical applications. Users can develop and deploy applications under Windows, MacOS, or Linux for multimedia and content management, Web-based publishing, and electronic commerce. New to Version 2.1 is OMNIS Web Client, which allows users access to the database or application via a Web browser. Design environment improvements include the ability to delete unused variables in method editor, copy and paste properties, and report line operations, as well as icon editor and edit menu enhancements. Contact: OMNIS Software, Inc., San Carlos, CA; (650) 632-7100;

ToolBook II Instructor

ToolBook II Instructor is a courseware-authoring product for creating highly customized courseware that can be distributed over the Internet, an intranet or LAN, or through CD-ROM. Instructor's extensible object-oriented development environment features OpenScript programming language, fully integrated script editor and debugger, object browsers, and Actions Editor and DHTML runtime Engine. Instructor also gives users the ability to share scripts and assign common behavior to multiple objects; add RealMedia, Windows Media, and other interactive video and audio files to a course; use prebuilt or custom-made templates for course authoring; and employ drag-and-drop catalog objects. Lessons created using Instructor can be seamlessly integrated into the e-Learning portal, Ingenium, the learning management program, or any other AICC-compliant learning management system. Contact:, Bellevue, WA; (800) 448-6543;

Trellix 2.0

Trellix 2.0 desktop productivity tool facilitates the creation of Web content. Version 2.0 allows users to organize multiple linked pages of information, apply rich designs to Web pages, and share Trellix documents via the intranet or e-mail. Trellix can also be viewed with a standard Web browser. The Trellix Content Map allows writers to organize content visually to direct readers' attention to the exact information needed. Users can quickly and easily create tables, page layouts, and enhanced formatting of data. Contact: Trellix, Waltham, MA; (781) 788-9400;

Visual Café

VisualCafé 4 Standard Edition Java development environment includes an integrated editor, graphical debugger, and compiler. The two-way drag-and-drop development environment ensures that the code editor and visual designer are always synchronized, producing source code in real time. VisualCafé allows users to create Java applets and applications with productivity Wizards, utilities, and 100+ Java Beans. Easy-to-use Wizards streamline the creation, viewing, and visual editing of JavaBeans. VisualCafé includes support for the latest Java technology including Java 2, Java Beans, JAR, JNI, JavaDoc and more. VisualCafé Expert Edition includes all of the features in the Standard Edition, plus new productivity enhancements, more robust compiler and debugger support, integrated database tools, and an open architecture for maintainable third-party integrations. Contact: WebGain, Cupertino, CA; (408) 743-9777;

Web-4M 2.7

Web-4M is a distributed toolkit for online collaboration and learning. Web-4M transforms traditional chat rooms into multimedia forums with audio conferencing, slide shows, whiteboards, e-mail, and news. Operating over intranets or the Internet, Web-4M features browser-accessible local and global communication. Utilizing Java technology, Web-4M eliminates software distribution, provides platform independence, and reduces administration. Version 2.7 features a secure link to prevent e-mail eavesdropping, access control to news, and the ability to search and index documents, e-mail, and news. Contact: JDH Technologies, Newport News, VA; (757) 873-4747;

Hardware and Servers

Acer Altos Servers

The Altos Server Series is designed to run networks for file management, for a department, or for a LAN or WAN. Acer Altos Servers provide multiple processor support, large memory and cache possibilities, hot-swappable power supplies and storage modules, and support for multiple operating systems, including Windows NT, Novell Netware, and SCO OpenServer environments. Acer offers a wide choice of scalable configurations, from basic add-in cards to key-activated Internet or Intranet solutions. Contact: Acer Education Solutions Division, Acer America, San Jose, CA; (800) 391-ACER;

Compaq ProLiant ML530

The ProLiant ML530 combines maximum performance with ultimate expansion and manageability features. The ML530 features sixteen bays, including twelve hot-plug hard drive bays, eight PCI slots, memory expandable to 4GB, and dual processing support ensuring a high level of IT investment protection. The ML530 also features Remote Insight Lights-Out management support, which provides seamless access to the server in full graphics mode, without requiring the installation of any software on the host server or management client. Other features include Compaq Insight Manager, and SmartStart, guaranteeing maximum network uptime and simplicity of ownership. Contact: Compaq Computer Corp., Houston, TX; (800) 88-TEACH;

First Class Intranet Server

First Class Intranet Server is a standards-based all-in-one server. The single-server application allows easy graphical administration over the Internet, permissions and security, group assignment and control, and server-to-server gateways. Any Windows NT­running computer can run the server for up to 100,000 users per server depending on the traffic, up to 1,000 concurrent connections, and 100,000 conferences, mail lists, or Internet newsgroups per server. New features include advanced resource and time management tools, sophisticated pager support, easy-to-use forms accessible from the Web, and simple Web page creation. Contact: Centrinity, Markham, Ontario, Canada; (888) 808-0388;

Lotus Domino R5 Application Server

The Domino R5 Application Server is an integrated messaging and Web application software platform for systems with 1 to 4 CPUs. Features include integration with enterprise systems, a new messaging management feature, simple deployment and maintenance, an open platform for various authoring tools, and flexible, pervasive security regardless of how content is stored. Contact: Lotus Development Corp., Cambridge, MA; (800) 346-1305;

Netfinity 7000

The Netfinity 7000 line of servers from IBM provides up to four-way SMP 200 MHz Pentium processors with 512KB/1MB L2 Cache, 256 MB standard, and a maximum of 8 GB of ECC memory. Two models of the Netfinity 7000 M10 with Chipkill Memory offer system reliability up to 100 times greater than that of standard ECC memory modules. Contact: IBM Corp., Research Triangle Park, NC; (800) 772-2227;

Nortel Nautica 4000

The Nautica 4000 is a remote access server and router that has been built for small to mid-sized applications supporting telecommuting, Internet access, and remote access. Nautica 4000 offers a flexible migration path and allows users to create a configuration mix of analog and digital dial access and dedicated connections. Nautica 4000 can be equipped with several transport options to connect to a local or remote backbone network. The Nautica Configuration Wizard, a Windows 95-compatible application, enhances the set-up procedure by guiding users through the configuration of the product. All functions can be managed locally or remotely. Contact: Nortel Networks, Santa Clara, CA; (800) 4-NORTEL;

Premio Titan S450N

The Premio Titan S450N represents Premio's next generation of servers. The S450N features the Intel 440GX+ Server Motherboard with support for up to four Intel Pentium III processors. All Premio servers are engineered, tested, and certified to run with Windows 2000, Windows 98, and NetWare and can therefore be incorporated into any network. Contact: Premio, City of Industry, CA; (800) 677-6477;

SGI Origin

Origin 200, the entry-level ccNUMA server from SGI, delivers optimized solutions for media distribution, interoperable file serving, multitiered database management, performance-intensive computing, and Internet applications. Origin 200 features UNIX tools and performance, scalability in all dimensions, interoperability services, and an entry price comparable to PC-based servers. Origin 200 GIGAchannel from SGI delivers aggressive processor/performance capability and enterprise-class I/O at an entry-level price. Contact: SGI, Mountain View, CA; (650) 960-1980;

Web TV Network

WebTV Network can bring the Internet to every student in every classroom for a fraction of the cost of other options. WebTV takes advantage of existing equipment and is simple to acquire, set up, and own. Its built-in Internet capabilities make it appropriate for distance learning applications. WebTV supports HTML, frames, JavaScript 1.2, usenet, chat, multimedia e-mail, Shockwave, MPEG, and Quicktime audio, video, and Gif, JPEG, PHG, tiff, Macromedia Flash, and other image and animation formats. Contact: WebTV Network, Mountain View, CA; (800) 469-3288;

Web Resources for Distance Learning

California Virtual Campus

California's institutions of higher education offer a site designed to help students further their educational objectives by linking them to online courses and other services offered by the state's colleges and universities. The site provides a complete list of participatingcampuses. The Web site gives information about courses and certificate or degree programs offered at a distance and connects prospective students to the appropriate campus to enroll and find out more information. has been a source of information for distance learners, educators, managers,designers,policymakers, researchers, evaluators, and hardware and software providers since 1995. is designed and written by professionals with experience in educational radio and television, and in the use of integrated telecommunications systems such as the Internet for teaching and learning. Student Online is a personal organizer for students and instructors. The site automatically updates classes and activities throughout the semester. Also, Student Online suggests on-campus, off-campus, and cross-campus events to students based on their interests. Teachers have access to instructional materials. For designers, the site reviews the major course management products available for distance learning. And Distance Education Report provides timely information needed to design, implement, and manage distance education courses. It also focuses on practical applications and new developments with reports on changing technologies, institutional case studies, governance, and international initiatives.

Distance Learning on the Net

Educator Glenn Hoyle has designed a web site for teachers and administrators looking for information, resources, and news about distance learning. The site, which includes links that are screened for quality and reputation, features a bulletin board for discussion and sharing, a list of college and universities offering distance learning, and definitions and background on the topic.

Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning is an adult education and distance learning consulting firm that maintains the Web-based Adult Education and Distance Learner's Resource Center and publishes the Virtual University Gazette e-mail newsletter for distance learning professionals. Each issue is free and includes news about new distance learning programs in both the academic and corporate sectors, job opportunities, and links to new developments in the virtual university movement. Lifelong Learning also offers custom consulting services to colleges and universities in the process of developing, designing, or deploying adult education products or services.

Women's International Electronic University

Women's International Electronic University is an international, independent, non-profit corporation and consortium dedicated to educating and empowering women through Internet technology, promoting cross-cultural communication, and providing a base for collaborative teaching, research, and projects. In addition to offering resources, interactive chat, and links to educational and communication networks and events of special interest to women worldwide, the WIEU offers a series of online courses in such areas as computer applications, women and technology, travel, and nursing.

comments powered by Disqus