This information assumes that you have followed the Getting Started instructions for creating a section for your module and enrolling yourself as a Section Instructor and Section Designer and that you are now in the section, so you should be able to see three tabs - Build, Teach and Student View. The buttons on the lefthand side (Assessments, Assignments, Chat and Whiteboard etc.) are used for adding content and activities to your course.
You can make files of any sort available to your students to download. Files in HTML format can be viewed within WebCT Vista itself, making them easier for the student to read. There is a separate page on producing HTML files which also contains information on onverting other document formats to HTML.
To make files available to your students, you first go to the Build Tab and then to File Manager where you can upload files into your filespace. Once files are in your filespace, return to the Basic View under the Build Tab and select 'Content File' on the lefthand side to add the files to the section. When you have added a file you can change the title under which it appears, by clicking on the file and selecting 'Edit'.
It is worth getting the directory structure for your filespace in Vista finalised locally before putting files into ULearn to avoid time-consuming changes.
Uploading large numbers of files is tedious, especially if you want to make changes to them outside Vista on a regular basis. There is a way to make this easier - you can use WebDAV which is very similar to FTP. There often seem to be technical problems getting it to work - it seems to be mostly a matter of luck, but if it does work, it can save quite a bit of time. More information on using WebDAV to upload files to WebCT Vista
You can create a discussion forum by going to the Build Tab and selecting 'Discussion' from the lefthand side.
When you want to post messages to the forum, make sure that you are in the Teach tab and not the Student VIew tab. If you post messages while in the Student View tab, then your name won't appear with your post.
You can use HTML in posts, and also add equations and images to posts. Because the software times out after a certain period of 'inactivity', it's worth composing any long posts outside the software, and copying and pasting them in. You'll probably also want to edit the paging so that you can see more than ten messages and tell your students to do the same.
You'll probably want to post an encouraging welcome message and let students know how often you plan to check the discussion boards and if there are any periods that you wil be away. If you are using discussion forums a lot, you might want to read Gilly Salmon's book E-moderating (there are copies in the library).
You can create assessments by going to the Build Tab, then Content Inventory and then Assessments. You can now create a create a Question Bank. Once you have one or more banks of questions you can create an assessment. This can be a 'quiz' (where you get to see the students' grades) or a 'self-test' (where you don't). There is no distinction between a quiz where you see the students' grades and use the grades to count as coursework and one which the students do as a self-test but where you want to see how students are getting. Both such assessments are called quizzes and are presented in a way that shouldn't put students off doing them as a self-test if you want to use them in that way.
Before you start spending lots of time writing lots of questions, check what types of question and what marking schemes are supported - it's easiest to do this by looking in the software itself to see what sort of questions it will let you create.
Avoid paragraph answer questions for self-tests as they will always get marked as incorrect. If you know about regular expressions, then you can use these in the answer to short answer questions.
An assignment is just an electronically submitted piece of work. You need to set up an assignment dropbox for each assignment. You can download the submitted work all as one zip file to save you time downloading each piece of work one at a time. See the FAQ for instructions on how to do this.
There are two main ways you can organise material in WebCT Vista - organisers and learning modules.
Organisers are essentially just folders/directories. You can use the Power View to reorder the contents of either the home page or an organiser. It's worth finalising the content you want in the organisers before actually adding the content, because moving lots of items from one organiser to another is quite time-consuming. Note that you can use HTML for the headings and footers on each page. You can also use the inbuilt HTML editor to e.g. centre your headings.
Learning modules are a way of grouping together content/activities to make them easier to navigate. The easiest way to see how they work is to create one, add a few things to it, and look at it using the Student View. They tend to work quite well when you are expecting a student to work through things relatively linearly.
Try not to link between your pages as it makes navigation confusing for the student. You need to be particularly careful with this if you are moving material from the web onto ULearn
You probably also want to include some sort of welcome material explaining how everything is organised. This could also include the information from the module catalogue for your module, details as to how often you will be logging in, contact details, general information about lecture times, how often you expect students to log in etc.
You might also want to include the CLD's ULearn User Guide available from their resource page
You can set up groups of students by going to the Teach Tab and then Group Manager. To make something available only to a specific group, go to the Teach Tab, then the Selective Release Map, then click on the icon in the action column next to the thing you want to make visible to just one group.
You can also use the Selective Release Map to make things only available on certain dates.