Comparison of CMS, Course Materials Life Cycle, and Related Costs

My colleagues Bruce Landon and Russ Poulin were commissioned last year by MIT to produce a report which compared the CMS practices and costs, as well as the life cycle of course materials, at ‘peer’ institutions in an effort to provide a benchmark for future decision making. I was just informed that MIT has generously made the report more widely available online at the above location. In addition to MIT itself, the peer institutions surveyed included Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, Columbia, Berkeley, Harvard (College of Arts and Sciences), University of Chicago, Middlebury, University of Texas at Austin, Princeton and Yale.

So while you might not consider your institution a “peer” (but hey, why not, in this global,online economy) I expect there will be something of interest to anyone involved with the management of institution-wide CMSes. It’s a lengthy report (90 pages) but in it you’ll find such things as costing and support information from a wide variety of scenarios, though one of the findings was that

most of the institutions did not have a better handle on cost data and that (for many of the respondents) costs were not a principle driver in decision-making.

It should also not be surprising to anyone having to deal with higher ed content management practices that the survey shows them to be all over the place and largely still a matter left up to the whims of the individual instructor. Which might seem fine to many except consider that “the annual costs of course materials can exceed the cost of the C/LMS by millions” and we all know at some point, something is going to give. – SWL

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