Introduction to Special Section on Course Management Systems in Higher Education

By Benson, Angela D. | Distance Learning, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Introduction to Special Section on Course Management Systems in Higher Education


Benson, Angela D., Distance Learning


Course management systems are common on today's college campuses. Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Sakai, and Moodle are among the highly recognizable course management systems being used in higher education institutions. Course management systems are characterized by Jarrahi (2010) as having two primary functions: "(1) content distribution, including management and retrieval of materials, and (2) facilitating interaction between academic staff and students" (p. 257).

These systems have become integral to the teaching and learning function of higher education institutions. While course management systems are the primary vehicle for the delivery of the growing number of fully online higher education courses and programs, they also play a large role in the delivery of on-campus face-to-face courses and programs. Faceto-face courses are often supplemented with some teaching and learning conducted via a course management system. These face-to-face courses may use the course management system to house primary and supplementary course content, deliver tests and assessments, or provide space for student collaboration and interaction.

A recent exploratory study by Brown, Hale, and Guo (2012) found that more than 600 articles addressing course management systems in higher education were published across 300+ peer-reviewed journals during the 2008-2012 time frame. They found that more than 75% of this research dealt with teaching and learning (pedagogy), while less than 15% dealt with planning and managing (administration) and the remaining 10% covered the other topics, including the future of course management systems. Note that these counts do not include the many articles on the topic that appear in non-peer-reviewed publications. This special section adds to the growing body of literature by providing seven articles on the topic in a single journal issue. The articles showcase the different uses of course management systems in higher education and highlight the support needs of the students and faculty who use them.

In "Accidental Pedagogy Redux," Patricia McGee (The University of Texas at San Antonio) and Colleen Carmean (The University of Washington, Tacoma) provide a historical view of the changing landscape of course management systems in higher education and provide some insight into their future. This article builds on earlier work by Jafari, McGee, and Carmean (2006).

In "Exploring LiveText as a Technological and Accountability Innovation in a College of Education," Peggy Lumpkin (Georgia State University) presents the findings of an exploratory case study that examined faculty members' experiences with the introduction of LiveText, a webbased learning, assessment, and accreditation system. Though LiveText is broadly considered a content management system, Lumpkin describes its use as a course management system by faculty in one college of education.

In "Integrating an Open-source Learning Management System (Moodle) in an English Language Program: A Case Study," Xin Chen, Christa Guilbaud, Hongxia Yang, and Congwu Tao (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University), present the results of an evaluation that assessed the effectiveness of Moodle as the learning management system for an English language program. The article includes a learning management system selection survey that may be helpful to institutions and programs choosing a learning management system. …

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