Effects of Information Distributions Strategies on Student Performance in a CMS


This is one of those papers where I find myself thinking “freakin’ amazing, I can’t believe it” (yes, I really think like that) but by the end I’ve been reduced to, “ok, but a sample of 50 students? And all of them graduate students of education from 3 courses?” I’m not saying that invalidates the results, and the paper itself actually seems well written. But if you do buy into its arguments, then this SHOULD be sending shockwaves (at least shivers) through ed tech departments (and the people who fund them) across the world. Why? Because it throws into serious doubt the value of course management systems when used (predominantly, as other studies, like Morgan’s, have shown) as really expensive web filing or content management systems in support of face to face courses. This doesn’t necessarily sound the death knell for CMS; as the study concludes, instead one could draw the conclusion that if you want to see positive effects on pedagogy by using a CMS then use them, well, pedagogically, not as a glorified filing cabinet. But still, it does start to put to the test the conventional wisdom that simply giving people access to reading materials ahead of time will inevitably increase their learning. (First seen in Distance Educator.) – SWL

2 thoughts on “Effects of Information Distributions Strategies on Student Performance in a CMS”

  1. My initial reaction was the same as yours – just “freakin’ amazing”. Whenever I get amazed by any news, I go to original source and that’s what I did this time. I read the paper and I agree with you that it is well written and research design seems solid. Once I read it, it all makes sense. From the title and even abstract (if we don’t read carefully), we get impression that the students perform lower. But no, it is just a factual comprehension test that makes difference. I thought it was interesting that higher level of thinking was not affected by the ways of distribution. I also agree with you about author’s conclusion – we really need to look into ways to use CMS beyond a public filing system or streamlined gradebook (although I don’t think it is terribly bad idea, either, as author claimed, as long as distribution and availability is well planned).

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