Questions for the audience about course management systems


I’m pretty busy right now with writing, administering, and grading midterms — so blogging is light for a day or so more. However, given the recent posts and traffic about course management systems, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind answer a few questions down in the comments area. 

  1. Teachers: What do you need a course management system to do? What functionality do you consider essential?
  2. Teachers: What are the best ways for a course management system to help make your job of managing a course easy?  
  3. Students: Same questions as #1 and #2. 
  4. Current CMS software users: What are the three features of your CMS that are the most essential? If you could change three things about the way your CMS works, what would they be and what would you rather have? 

4 Comments

Filed under Course management systems, Educational technology, Teaching

4 responses to “Questions for the audience about course management systems

  1. virusdoc

    Call me a crazy novice, but I can’t think of ANY reason I would need a CMS. I might like to have a webspace where students can download lecture notes and access online links, but a simply html page would suffice and I can write that on the fly and use university servers to host the files. All other aspects of managing my course will be managed by dedicated software packages. If I need to email my students, I’ll use Outlook at work, Entourage at home. If I want to create grade sheets, I will make them in Excel (or Numbers at home) and post them anonymously outside my office; I have no desire or need for that info to be available online, and my students will be in my building three times a week for my lectures anyway.

    Am I missing something? Or am I hopelessly stuck in the 90’s? What else would I need to do?

  2. virusdoc

    Not much response on this one. I am curious whether you (Robert) can offer other legitimate uses that make a CMS a requirement for teaching a college course today. Is my understanding naive?

  3. I think I might save this one for another post, since that’s an important question — and a different one, because discussing the design issues behind a CMS is one thing but discussing why colleges should(n’t) REQUIRE them is another.

    I was hoping for more students to comment too, because my understanding is that profs can definitely live without CMS’s but the students tend to find them more useful. The online gradebook feature particularly.

    The more general question is, what kind of online presence or functionality can really be considered essential for college courses today? And is the CMS the best tool for the job?

  4. The university courses I’ve taught used Blackboard. It’s an expensive option but for distance courses it was perfect. The most important tools I used were to build assessments that then integrated with a gradebook. The assessments were available to any student anywhere in the world for specific dates and can be password protected if necessary. The course material is presented in flash video which is stored on U. servers and Bb makes it easy to control availability.

    I think that for traditional classes Bb isn’t used nearly so much and some instructors skip it altogether.