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CMS Review for Wednesday, January 21, 2004

CMS Review - a resource on elearning & Course management Systems

Wed., Jan. 21, 2004




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CMS Viewpoint

Piloting Open Source CMS - A Small Campus Experience

Scott E. Siddall, Denison University

Some of us are blessed with the responsibility of helping our campus constituents select course management software. We gather the stakeholders, match lists of needs with possible solutions, figure out how to finance and support a solution, and then select from available options. Only the last of these steps is not internal to the institution. Our list of possible solutions includes CMS from commercial software vendors, and in fact most colleges operating a CMS have chosen to license commercial software. Typically, we’ve turned to commercial interests outside the academy for one of our most fundamental tools in support of teaching and learning.

We’ve been served well by this model for the past several years. A high percentage of our faculties have embraced their campus’ CMS, and most students find them to be easy to use and effective. CMS have become one of the most successful enterprise applications in the academic arena. Many colleges and universities now consider the CMS a strategic element in campus IT.

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CMS News & Product updates

Connecticut Higher Ed Consortium Backs WebCT System

Connecticut’s largest universities made commitments to course management system strategies recently. The Connecticut Community College system, Connecticut State University, and the University of Connecticut, all chose WebCT Vista as the backbone of their eLearning program in a collaborative purchase that \deal-makers said will save the state an estimated $200,000.

Their single shared license for WebCT Vista will support eLearning activity across the three independent systems and their 72,000 students. The state expects savings by sharing a single software license, technology architecture, administration, training programs and, in the near future, a repository for the learning objects - such as Web pages, media clips, or curricula - that can be used to create online courses.

Ed Klonoski, executive director of the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium (CTDLC) and the lead negotiator on the contract, called it a “precedent-setting, far-reaching initiative to share information technology on a broad scale.”

The WebCT Vista will enable each school to develop a unique online identity. Yet students moving through several institutions – i.e., a community college graduate enrolling at a university - will experience a familiar basic system as they move from school to school. Students will have online access to course materials, assignments and assessments, and they will be able to use tools such as e-mail, chat and threaded discussion.

Connecticut College Has Different Drummer: SCT Financial Aid

While only tangential to learning management, enterprise administrative systems increasingly draw from common source data. Along those lines, Connecticut College said it successfully implemented SCT Banner Financial Aid, the latest piece in its rollout of the SCT administrative software suite. Lee Hisle, vice president for information services and librarian of the college, said the system will “provide the access to information that before was hidden inside the data processing world.” The private college went live with the SCT Banner Finance, Advancement, and Admissions applications in 2003. The SCT Banner Student application is expected to be live in 2004. SCT Banner is based on the Oracle platform and built for medium-to-large student enrollments.

Open Source CMS Grounded in ‘Constructionist Pedagogy’

A new open source course management system has made its debut, distinguishing itself with a claim to a “strong grounding in social constructionist pedagogy.” The Moodle developers describe the as a way a course can be developed within “a social group constructing things for one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings. When one is immersed within a culture like this, one is learning all the time about how to be a part of that culture, on many levels.”

“A very simple example is an object like a cup. The object can be used for many things, but its shape d'es suggest some "knowledge" about carrying liquids. A more complex example is an online course - not only do the "shapes" of the software tools indicate certain things about the way online courses should work, but the activities and texts produced within the group as a whole will help shape how each person behaves within that group.”

Moodle runs without modification on Unix, Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Netware, and other system that supports PHP. Data is stored in a single database: MySOL and PostgreSQL are best supported, but it can also be used with Oracle, Access, Interbase, ODBC, and others. Moodle is available in 34 languages.

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MERLOT Partnership to Ease Faculty Course Development

MERLOT, the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning & Online Teaching, has formed a partnership with U.K.-based Sentient, a provider of “learning resource management systems,” to provide higher-ed institutions the ability to search online learning objects within Sentient Discover v2.0. The product will enable faculty members to embed traditional and electronic learning resources within their resource lists, which eases the transition towards eLearning. Through its architecture, Sentient Discover allows faculty members to search multiple resource databases and embed links to such resources within the lists.

MERLOT ( is a cooperative that collects and makes freely available high-quality online resources to improve learning and teaching within higher education. Sentient Discover 2.0 will enable MERLOT to bring its resources to where many faculty are composing their online courses – in course management systems such as WebCT and Blackboard, says the developers. Sentient DISCOVER 2.0 will also enable faculty to conduct “one-stop shopping” for library, publisher, and MERLOT materials that students will need for their online education.

“Our collaboration will enable faculty to effectively and efficiently conduct their research for teaching materials,” said MERLOT executive director Gerry Hanley. “Faculty can spend their time designing successful learning experiences instead of conducting inefficient and unproductive searches for online curriculum.”

CMS Case Study

Xavier University Web-based Course Management System

Xavier University's Center for the Advancement of Teaching invited proposals from all faculty members to participate in a case study aimed at questions concerning Web course management systems (WCMS). This case study provides "best practices" of WCMS and the type of institutional support that is needed to integrate WCMS into the teaching and learning process.

The study includes a RealVideo tour that offers a visual walk-through of the eCollege website developed for the faculty involved in the project. This website served as the focal point for helping faculty think through issues of technology and pedagogy, and plan the on-line components of their courses.

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CMS TechNotes

How to Build an Accessible Web Learning Content Manager

ATutor, from the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto, is an open source Web-based Learning Content Management System (LCMS) designed with accessibility and adaptability in mind. Educators can quickly assemble, package, and redistribute Web-based instructional content, and conduct their courses online in an adaptive or accessible environment. assistive technologies.

ATutor has adopted IMS Content Packaging specifications, allowing content developers to create reusable content that can be swapped between different eLearning systems. Content created in other IMS compliant systems can be imported into ATutor, and visa versa.

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CMS Exchange
From the CMS Review Forum
Posted by: Steven Bell

I am finding CMS Review to be quite helpful - and am finding the stories useful. As a librarian - and someone who is involved in the deployment and management of courseware at my institution, I appreciate keeping aware of industry developments. I look forward to many future issues of this report. CMS is gaining near ubiquitous status in higher education. The amount we need to know about it will only increase, and this newsletter will help us stay on top of things.

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