John Kruper of the ‘Electric Lyceum‘ has posted this longish piece that neatly summarizes many of the recent posts concerning alternatives and dissatisfactions with conventional commercial course management systems.
But in a refreshing (to me at least) turn, he notes that while blogs are attractive as teaching and learning tools because they break out of the mould of instructor as expert/student as empty vessel, and start to enable real student creation and participation, they lack many of the seemingly straightforward ‘class management’ tools that are somewhat fundamental to the commercial CMS offerings. Many of these functions may seem pedagogically unexciting, but as Kruper points out, try running a number of online sections in a number of courses simultaneously without them.
I am definitely not ‘taking sides’ in this debate. I’m just glad to see someone make the point that many of the ‘administrative’ functions provided in commercial CMS have some importance. Should they override pedagogical concerns? No, of course they shouldn’t. But they should have a place in considering what such systems need to do. I think you can see this thinking behind both OKI and the API strategies of the biggest CMS players. They all seem to be trying to get to a point where the administrative functionality is just there, and then upon which more pedagogically interesting applications can be built, and in both cases potentially built locally. – SWL