If you’re lucky enough to have a professor who uses it and knows it well, Smartsite can be an extremely useful class resource. But for many students, the “cutting edge” courseware technology is full of problems.
Smartsite, the online course collaboration tool, was introduced on campus in 2006 and fully implemented in 2007. Since then, the tool has received mixed reviews from the students and faculty who use it.
The primary complaint from the student perspective is that Smartsite is not user-friendly. Some classes from the past still appear in the shortcut bar on the main page. A plethora of links and buttons often makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for. And many professors seem incapable of consistently putting their assignments and lecture notes in the appropriate categories.
In addition to these problems, there is the broader issue of some professors using MyUCDavis instead of Smartsite for their course websites, which only further serves to confuse things.
The best solution to these issues will require three changes.
First of all, professors should invest more time and effort into learning how Smartsite works and how to make it work for them. Even a half-hour or hour training session will give an instructor more information than they will probably need for most courses. Despite how simple it is to learn, many professors seem insistent on not learning how to use this resource, generally to the disadvantage of their students.
Secondly, the software needs to be improved and streamlined so that the basic and most important functions are the most prominent. There are many ways in which Smartsite could be made simpler and more intuitive. One example of this is that only classes a student is currently enrolled in should appear on the main page.
And finally, the course website feature of MyUCDavis should be removed entirely. IT officials have said they are unable to merge MyUCDavis with Smartsite – if that is the case, let’s get rid of the clunky and archaic MyUCDavis course sites completely. Smartsite will not gain the strong foothold it deserves until it is the only option professors have for course websites.
On the whole, Smartsite is a valuable resource that has the potential to greatly improve the teaching and learning experience at UC Davis. The idea behind it is great, but Smartsite itself will continue to be confusing and lackluster until these necessary changes are made.