Since I typically share my blog entries on multiple social networks, it’s curious to see what the reactions are by social network. For example, my bleary-eyed blog entry–isn’t that funny?–written in the wee hours of the pre-work morning focused on responding to a blog entry I’d read and a follow-up question.
- On Twitter, the typical response or way of showing appreciation is a retweet (RT) or a quote.
- On Plurk and Facebook, you usually get a “Like” or it gets re-shared/re-plurked.
- On G+, someone will post a long response and extend the conversation.
After reading the attached blog post by , I’m reminded that I am still not sure what a Course Management System (CMS) or Learning Management System (LMS) should look like now.
As I am pressed to reevaluate Blackboard as the CMS available to teachers at my school, I’ve though a lot about what a CMS should be able to do beyond the standard stuff like organizing content and delivering online quizzes. (Discussions are part of that standard stuff too although my intuition is that they should work a bit differently than the standard discussion forum.)
Much of my uneasiness with what we already have speaks to the CMS being able to support a student-centered classroom and project based activities That’s where traditional CMSs like Blackboard, which does a good job for the teacher-centered stuff, seem to fall short. This does not seem to be design focus for traditional CMSs such as Blackboard. Even though these legacy systems seem to be trying to retrofit to support student to student communication and collaboration, it seems like an add-on that is not as good as various individual collaborative tools that are already available (such as or VoiceThread ). Unfortunately, using just a collection of “best of breed” individual, unrelated tools seems to fragment out the experience and make things confusing for teachers and students due to different interfaces, logins, confusing organization in individual tools, etc. While pulling them together in a system like our student information system, which already handles homework assignments, schedules, and grades (again basically teacher to student stuff) seems like one option, I still see gaps there. (, I’d love to see killer Google Docs / WH Academic Groups integration for sharing and collecting information. The SSO is working great.)
It feels like I should write a concluding sentence or paragraph here. I wish I had one, but my conclusion to the issue is still a work-in-progress.
Of course, if you are an educator with suggestions, please comment!
Of course, I felt compelled to respond:
Bill, your points about the challenges we face as educators with CMS/LMS are on target. One approach that folks use to consolidate the various best of breed tools is to organize everything using a wiki. The wiki is the main platform for what you’re trying to accomplish–share information, present problems/case studies for students to resolve singly or in groups. You “outsource” to different tools to add interactive elements that go beyond editing a wiki page. For example, there are a variety of solutions for live chat (text/video/audio e.g. GoogleHangouts, Skype with 25 participants), as well ways of tracking student work and assignments. Consideration has to be given whether outward facing content is OK to have, as opposed to content for learners only. And, you have to decide if self-hosted CMS are your thing (e.g. Moodle, Sakai) or if you can use external CMS/LMS solutions (e.g. Blackboard, Edmodo,Schoology, CollaborizeClassroom). Tools like Edmodo seem to provide much of what online learning facilitators need without the headache of a traditional CMS.
Single Sign-On (SSO) which you mention is also another question. SSO and account management may NOT be desirable if 1) you have learners from a variety of settings who are not within the organization or 2) Possess accounts in the outsourced tools you intend to use. I’d rather use MY OWN account (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) than have to rely on an organization provided account that will disappear at the end of my learning. SSO is probably only needful if you plan on prolonged contact, confidentiality is required. Otherwise, you can use a CMS like Moodle as the launchpad for assignment/grades management, links to other resources, and outsource learning activities to individual tools, of which there are many.
Here’s a link to building courses with open web tools – http://goo.gl/6byYL
Hope this has been helpful!
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