The Course Management System notes – Week 18 #potcert11

Alphabet Soup

I first heard of Course Management Systems (CMS) from Chapter 1 of Ko and Rossen at the start of Pedagogy First. The authors pretty much say that the CMS and the Learning Management System (LMS) and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) are just different names for the same thing. I find it a little confusing though, as I was already accustomed to using CMS for Content Management System, which is something else, though similar. While the text seems to prefer the CMS tag, other authors seem to prefer LMS. Up until recently, I treated them as interchangeable (once I determined when CMS means Course MS rather than Content MS). Recently, Cris shared a blog post and link which suggested that CMS and LMS mean different things. So before starting on this blog post I went to Wikipedia to find some clarification. I found this in the entry for Virtual learning environment:

A Virtual Learning Environment is one of the ways of providing computerized learning or e-learning. Such a system may also be referred to as a Learning Management System (LMS). Related concepts include” Content Management System (CMS), which properly refers to the organization of the educational or other content, not the overall environment; Learning Content Management System (LCMS), which is more often used for corporate training systems than for systems in education institutions; Managed Learning Environment (MLE), which normally refers to the overall infrastructure in an institution of which the VLE is a component, Learning Support System (LSS); Online Learning Centre (OLC); or Learning Platform (LP), education via computer-mediated communication (CMC); or online education. The term “Virtual Learning Environment” is more commonly used in the UK, Europe and Asia, while the synonymous term “Learning Management System” is the more common usage in North America.

The term LMS can also mean “Library Management System” (which is now more commonly referred to as Integrated Library System, or ILS.

So I hope that you find that as helpful as I did. <grin>

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by JuditK

Should I learn to LMS?

Moving on, at first an LMS seemed like a good idea, especially for administrative things like attendance tracking and grading records. In the school where I was teaching last year, we used paper forms that had to be filled in by hand and submitted. There was lots of red tape whenever something got lost or needed corrections. Almost any kind of automated system would have been an improvement.

On the teaching side though I’m not so sure. There are a lot of pros and cons being discussed online if you go look for it. On one hand there are points such as presenting a uniform interface to students and protecting their identities. But there are concerns such as ownership of content and commercialization.

Nevertheless, my observation is that many schools mandate some form of LMS usage. I’ve seen a lot of job postings for online teaching positions that state LMS experience, usually Blackboard, is desirable or required experience for applicants. So I guess it’s probably a good idea to find a way to work with these systems.

My Week 18 Activity

I read the suggested materials including Lisa’s First Monday article, Insidious Pedagogy. One of the notes I had jotted down after reading that – novice instructors come to the LMS and are overwhelmed by too many options, while more web-savvy instructors see it as limiting.

For this week’s assignment, we were encouraged to learn some more about an LMS that we hadn’t used before. In my case, that could be any of them. I focused on Blackboard and Moodle, since that’s what I hear about most often. I suppose that schools that are already using Blackboard are likely to stick with it as its expensive and they’d want to get their money’s worth. Moodle seems popular because its free, so it’s likely to be more popular where budgets are tight (which seems to be everywhere.) My sense is that many instructors prefer Moodle over Blackboard. That’s just a sense I get from my own reading and observations, not based on any particular scientific study.

I don’t have access to any running LMS software right now, so I looked to YouTube for demonstrations and tutorials. There’s plenty there to get a pretty good idea how they work. However I would really like getting some hands on practice eventually, before trying to use it in the field.

My general impression from what I’ve seen is that they are similar at least on the surface. Both of them seem to be fairly mature software products. I didn’t see anything too frightening for my technical comfort level. I suspect that I could catch on quickly if I have too. I imagine that there are more advanced features that differentiate the two programs, as I have heard many users express strong preferences for one or the other.

Here’s few related links I found Interesting this week –

The Poetry of Learning 


Is the LMS Dead?

There’s a list of LMS systems on Wikipedia 


I also read the optional chapter 12 on Special Issues in Classroom Management. I wouldn’t have thought there were problems with disruptive students online, but this chapter explained otherwise. I found a related series online, with some more examples and suggestions. It’s not specifically about online courses, though some cases may apply. – Profhacker Tag Archives: disruptive student behavior

That’s all I got to this week.

Are there any questions?