Farewell CMS Review - Hello <i>eLearning Dialogue </i>

"Dialogue" \ Di"a*logue\ : A conversation between two or more persons. "eLearning": a large catchall term to include all aspects of technology-enhanced teaching and learning.

These two words - one rooted in ancient times the other a buzzword of our time - are the foundation of changes that have come to CMS Review. Welcome to the first issue of eLearning Dialogue. As suggested by this new name, much of what I write below invites you into conversation, requests your response.

From the beginning, CMS Review was structured to promote an exchange of ideas about course management systems. We had viewpoints and case studies as the anchor tenants of the newsletter. In our short life, we have had some excellent contributions in both areas. What we did not want to do was turn the Review into a regular column by the editorial board. That would be too one-way. CMS Review inferred that we were collecting information to help you keep up with the developments in course management systems. That is also too one-way, and far too passive. We wanted a conversation not an update.

From the inaugural October 15, 2003 issue, we realized there was a perception problem with the name. Some thought CMS stood for content management; others thought it referred to course management. Others had something to contribute, but thought "review" excluded their contributions. This was all too limiting.

Within the academy we have lots of very smart people with insights and opinions they want to share with their colleagues. We have others that are seeking information, who are challenging the way things are being done, seeking innovative ways to be more effective teachers. These are not mutually exclusive groups.

As the editorial board chatted during a break at the December Syllabus Conference in very snowy Boston, we started to brainstorm a few ideas to improve CMS Review. We knew almost immediately what we wanted to do. At the conference, all around us, colleagues were attending sessions, pursuing active discussion within the sessions and during breaks. Thoughts were flying back and forth; there was excitement from the sharing of knowledge. Similarly, the topics of the conference were not neatly placed even within the tracks. eLearning was much more than a course management system. We wanted to capture that excitement.

We decided we should make it easier for our academic colleagues to share information, and recognized the benefits of expanding the scope of the topics we were addressing. Easier participation would lead to a more stimulating newsletter.

We want to know what you are thinking. What topics are important to you? What are your thoughts? How are you using eLearning technology, what barriers are you confronting? We would like to expand the dialogue, across these issues and more. We seek your active participation.

We are now making some basic changes to improve our dialogue, and we plan to add even more capability in the near future. There are three areas where you can contribute to our dialogue.

In the Viewpoint area, we invite your public postings to our forum on the topic in each eLearning Dialogue issue. Your comments enrich the Viewpoint significantly. In some cases, your comments reinforce or challenge our editorial judgment. In other cases, especially controversial Viewpoints, the forum can have some lively discussions.

We are adding a link at the bottom of the Viewpoint to allow you to propose a Viewpoint. This is a private link that g'es only to the editorial board for consideration. Viewpoints are roughly 800-1000 word Op-Ed articles that advance a particular point of view on issue in the eLearning world. We are eager to receive your submissions. Since this is a Viewpoint, you need not hesitate to tackle a controversial issue. Sometimes, your submission from this link will be your proposed Viewpoint, other times you might be suggesting a topic you would want to see addressed. In the latter case, we would love to see some suggested authors as well.

Closely coupled with the Viewpoints are Case Studies. Your colleagues really do want to know what's happening on other campuses. There is a lot to share in this area. As is the case with the Viewpoint, we are providing two links: one to a public forum, and the second for private proposal submissions. For now the basics are the same. In the future, the proposals link will be enriched.

Finally, in the News and Product Updates section, we will be adding a link to make it easier for readers and vendors to submit information for publication. If you have an item you would like us to consider for inclusion, use this link.

We hope the changes we are making will make this publication more stimulating and livelier, as well as more interactive. Welcome to eLearning Dialogue: a new name and a new approach for CMS Review. Let us know what you think.

To submit a Viewpoint or case studies, please e-mail us at: eLearningDialogue@syllabus.com or post your comments here, in the forum.

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