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Course Management Systems

Course management systems are the enterprise resource planning tools of the classroom, managing everything from curriculum, assignments, examinations, group projects, grades, to general classroom communications. These tools are growing in sophistication. Moreover, like most enterprise software, CMS is eyeing distant shores. Home of campus records both in the administration building are both academic and personal. More and more, CMS developers are looking to tie together the academic and administrative enterprise with modules and extensions for such features as data analysis, enrollment, and targeted messaging.

Angel from CyberLearning Labs
CyberLearning Labs offers Angel, an easy-to-use, practical course management, and collaboration portal solution. Angel is designed so that instructors with little or no training can quickly develop online course materials, exercises, and tests, pulling in material from files, complex images, sets of Web pages, content developed in other CMSs, and publisher-developed content. Lessons can include some or all of these content types. The HTML editor FASTpage publishes new content directly to the Web—recognizing spelling errors as well as scientific and mathematical symbols. The upload utility recognizes zipped files and offers to unzip them—eliminating another step for the user.

Normal and advanced modes accommodate all levels of user experience. In addition to its course management functions, Angel also serves as a portal and communication tool. Users can customize their Web space with bookmarks, calendars, and task lists. School-wide, group, and individual posting options are inherent in the package.

Contact:CyberLearning Labs, Indianapolis, IN; (317) 860-3810;

Blackboard’s Content Management Solution
Blackboard’s Content Management Solution offers a new level of functionality, beyond the learning management system most users are familiar with. The focus is on creating, reusing, and presenting digital content. The central component of the Content Management System is the Core Content Repository, which stores linkable, reusable content objects, controls access to these objects, and provides scalable, robust features for effectively managing them. A browser-based interface (like Internet Explorer) allows users to browse, access, and share content, as well as search, link, and reuse content created by themselves or others. Searching and collaboration tools are inherent to the product, as are controls over security, access, permissions, and bandwidth settings. The four crucial aspects of the system are: Learning Content Management, for sharing and reusing single files or large volumes of content assets; ePortfolios, allowing students and faculty members to assemble, present, and share information online for documenting academic growth, career evaluation, and course preparation; Virtual Hard Drives, for storage; and Library Digital Asset Management, which creates an interactive environment for faculty to search, access, and incorporate digital library resources in course preparation.

Contact:Blackboard, Washington, D.C., (202) 463-4860;

As an integrated product and service provider, eCollege focuses on a comprehensive package of services, software, and technology for full online programs. eCollege tailors its Course Management System and Program Administrative System solutions to each customer’s requirements. However, the basic eCollege package includes a campus portal system, eCollege’s course management system, an online evaluation component, continuously available help desk support, and administrative support.

This year, eCollege announced several new advancements. ExamGuard, an integrated secure browser developed with Questionmark technology. ExamGuard allows students to launch an exam within a secure browser without having to leave their course in order to do so.

The latest version of eCollege’s course management system is eCollege AU+, which includes such unique course management features as an assignment dropbox and equation builder. The dropbox is a series of baskets into which students deposit their work. Offering multiple baskets that are integrated with the gradebook allows instructors to more easily review, comment, and grade from a single location in the platform. The equation builder, developed on Design Science’s WebEQ technology and integrated into the eCollege AU+ system, enables users to build and edit mathematical equations directly through the course-authoring environment with one-click access. In other words, there’s no longer a need to build the equations in a different application and then import them into the course management software.

New eCollege AU+ Authoring enhancements enable faculty to hide certain content from student view, print or save threaded discussions offline, and determine exactly when to display and withdraw announcements on the course home page. Also, new this year is an enhanced eCollege Gradebook, the Company’s first full Microsoft .NET implementation. The eCollege Gradebook is closely integrated with all aspects of an online course for highly efficient and convenient grading and instructor feedback.

eCollege also announced the next generation of its Program Administration Solultions (PAS). Enrollment reporting is available offline via Microsoft Excel for dynamic analysis and distribution of the data; messaging (including file attachments) can target users by organization (e.g., region, campus, school, department, program, etc.); and reporting data is displayed with enhanced navigation in a paged format for ease of use.

Contact: eCollege, Denver, CO; (888) 884-7325;

Jenzabar Learning Management System
Part of its Internet Campus Solution, which also includes portal and administrative components, the Jenzabar Learning/Course Management System offers powerful and easy-to-use course management tools for supplementing courses and tools for one-stop academic life management for students. Features include a personal calendar (pre-populated with course information); group areas for enhanced course interaction; easy customization and management of course content; easy upload/download of electronic documents including syllabi, text handouts, PDFs, audio and video file formats, and images; discussion Forums for asynchronous communication; chat rooms for real-time collaboration; grade book and attendance tracking; and online test creation and administration. Also, Jenzabar’s Course Management features password-protected, 24/7, single-login access.

Contact: Jenzabar, Cambridge, MA; (877) 526-0222;

SCT Luminis Product Family
The SCT Luminis product family is the market-leading family of platform, portal, content management, and data integration products for higher education. Through new SCT Luminis data integration technologies, clients can more easily integrate their choice of learning management system with their SCT administrative system. The SCT Luminis Platform III also includes its own set of course tools that are integrated at the data and application level to help institutions streamline communications, simplify eLearning, and create customized forums that enable campus groups to interact and collaborate online. SCT Luminis Course Studio includes course calendars, restricted chat, message boards, and photos. New functionality includes automatically populated course e-mail lists, file sharing, targeted announcements, and the ability to delegate authority over course resources to class participants beyond the professor.

Contact: Jenzabar, Cambridge, MA; (877) 526-0222;

SCT PowerCAMPUS is an administrative system designed to support the unique needs of smaller institutions. SCT PowerCAMPUS is now IMS compliant, enabling clients to export information about courses and students from the SCT PowerCAMPUS system to any learning management system that is IMS compliant. SCT PowerCAMPUS also provides its own course tools. The enhanced course manager allows faculty to copy media files and grading activities from one course section to another course section that they teach. An enhanced grade book allows faculty to set up grading schemas by activity type with an average scale or a total points scale. For example, faculty can define that quizzes count for 30 percent of the final grade. The grade book also allows faculty to view statistical information such as the average, standard deviation, variance, or high and low grades for each course activity, as well as the midterm and final grades.

Contact: SCT, Malvern, PA; (800) 223-7036;

WebCT Campus Edition 4.1
This latest version of the popular course management system from WebCT offers new features and functionality designed to make Campus Edition even more user friendly. Version 4.1 includes new course design wizards, providing step-by-step guides that walk faculty and course designers through the completion of common course tasks, including setting up their course Homepage, Syllabus, Organizer Pages, Content Modules, Discussions, Mail, Calendar, and Chat. The look of the product is new as well. Version 4.0 has been updated throughout and controls have been grouped and positioned to facilitate easier access and more efficient course design. Additionally, the designer interface has been divided into tabs that clearly separate the student and the designer views, making it easier to design and preview courses.

WebCT Campus Edition 4.0 makes it possible to create content modules offline using applications such as Microsoft FrontPage and Microsoft PowerPoint, and to directly import these objects into WebCT, with all of their structure and linking intact. Learning objects, including both content modules and the assessment suite, can also be tagged and exported for storage or re-use. WebCT Campus Edition 4.0 includes an HTML Editor with spell-check, providing course designers with "What You See is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) content creation and editing capabilities, making it easier than ever to create and maintain content within the WebCT course environment.

Now with version 4.1, instructors can import ePacks into their existing courses without over-writing their own content, which gives instructors the flexibility to move between publisher content and their own materials.

Contact: WebCT, Lynnfield, MA; (781) 309-1000;

Unicon Academus Course Management
Academus Course Management is built as a uPortal application and delivers the framework, software, and services needed to establish a complete online campus—powering instructional delivery and tracks the online learning experience as an integrated component of the Academus Suite. Academus puts course participants in control of their own learning experiences—including an intuitive console of learning channels and a user-friendly interface. Academus Course Management provides utility, control, and automates the administration of learning events from the initial assessment to the final report. Built on the uPortal open standards framework, from JA-SIG, Academus provides a scaleable and flexible Web-based solution—tested for compliance with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act Section 508.

Contact: Unicon, Chandler, AZ; (480) 926-2368;

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