Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Blogs? Yes! Just don't forget the value of the CMS

Jeffrey Young at The Chronicle continues his coverage of the course management system landscape by highlighting discussions about using blogs as a substitute for the traditional CMS.

Open course blogs offer lots of interesting possibilities: convenient dialog among students, feeds (why haven't our CMSs incorporated these by now?), serendipitous participation by "outside" experts, simple interfaces, flexibility, etc.

At UW-Madison, I've seen a number of faculty use blogs as the centerpiece for their courses. Greg Downey's courses provide excellent examples of engaging students through course blogs.

However, blogs themselves will not overthrow the traditional CMS. There will always be the need to provide online exams, drop boxes, gradebooks, secure feedback, and all the complex integrations with various campus systems.

As the article above noted:
But despite a slew of jokes about Blackboard throughout the day, many attendees admitted that when the course-management system works, it offers easy-to-use features that students and professors have come to rely on. Even those speakers who encouraged professors to use blogs instead of Blackboard said that universities should probably support both.

Blogs have their place. The next generation of course/learning management systems will need to take cues from tools such as these in order to be relevant and provide useful user- (and especially learner-) centric environments.


doug said...

Good post Jeff, and thanks for the link.

I'm glad we're not in a "one or the other" dialog here on campus.

We're doing a great job, I think, of starting to expand the notions of what is possible with online learning environments, with both blogs and the features of a traditional CMS as parts of the conversation.

jeff said...

I agree. I think our campus is indeed expanding the notion of a "campus" learning management system: how it is constructed, how it is connected to other major systems, and how it is supported.

My big question: what is the framework for this new CMS/LMS landscape? Is there some unifying structure, and if so, what does that look like?