Onto Course Management Systems…
First…I know nothing about these. At all. When someone recently used the acronym CMS I had to ask for clarification. Yikes!
Anyway, thank goodness for Pina’s article as (I think–or at least I hope–I’ve got it figured out!)
So, this bit is more for me than anything:
A CMS includes tools that fall into the following areas:
- content creation (for uploading course content, assignment creation and links to other documents and/or websites relevant to the course)
- communication (course announcements, e-mail info/list, chat rooms, discussion boards, etc.)
- administration (allows instructor to manage the site, and the user access)
- assessment (allows for the creations of surveys, exams, grade book, statistics etc.)
Some systems are open source (Moodle, Sakai) and some are proprietary/commercial (Blackboard, Desire2Lean). More in-house staffing is necessary when using open source tools; commercial tools are supported by the vendor. Of course, cost then becomes an issue to balance: vendors must be paid but are these costs off-set by the amount of in-house staff necessary to support a system?
Putting on my teacher-hat for a minute…
Early CMS were not able to support “…the development of rich multimedia-based instruction” (p. 8); I’m curious to know if this has this changed (after all the article is from 2007)?
The article also mentioned that while there are tools to build online learning opportunities, there is no support for instructors in terms of how to build these online experiences appropriately: “…tools to guide the instructor in the design of online instruction and in sound pedagogical practice are virtually non-existent” (p. 8). One only needs to look at the assessment areas to see this: the tools are about managing the assessment process, they’re not about creating varied assessment opportunites. An exam is summative assessment (“assessment of learning”); pedagogically, summative assessment is not the best way to determine learning and understanding, if it’s the only type of assessment that’s being done; after all, it happens at the end. Assessment should be happening all the way along to ensure students are “getting it”. Of course, in the post-secondary environment it does tend to be the norm. But learning in an online environment (as I’m quickly finding out) is different; instruction needs to be adapted to this presentation style. If instructors are simply taking their face2face instruction and posting it electronically, it won’t necessarily be successful. Maybe that’s why the students (as per the survey mentioned in the article) didn’t like the discussion boards that much. Because it’s trying to take one aspect of face2face (discussion) and simply reformatting it to the online environment without taking into consideration the natural ebb and flow and organic aspect of a discussion.
There were also some interesting comments about how libraries fit (or rather didn’t) into the CMS environment. Again, some of the concerns/challenges/issues may have been addressed since the article’s publication. However, the fact that “cultural barriers” (p. 8) were one of the issues, made me think that maybe not…
I noticed a post on my school board website about the use of Google Apps in the classroom; would this be considered a CMS system? Here’s a video; I guess it’s a bit of a pilot programme…but if you go to their website (Google for Educators) you can check out a whole bunch o’ stuff.
Pina, A. A. (2007). Course management systems: Overview and implications for libraries. Library Hi Tech News, 24(5), 7-9.