Saturday, February 25, 2012

Course Management Systems: What are they and what is best?

Most of us have run into classroom (or course) mamanagement system along the way in our education. I am old and even I have run into a class or two from graduate school that used Blackboard. A CMS is usually defined as "a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, and reporting of training programs, classroom and online events, e-learning programs, and training content." Thank you Wikipedia. Common CMS products also include the use of calendars, testing options, message boards, and the ability to send alerts to students. Many of us have managed the work-flow in our classrooms in a variety of ways in the past twenty years. My story is below.

I have been teaching computers to high school students since I left Ottawa Hills High School (and electronic typewriters) behind in the late eighties and I have seen a lot of changes. In college I took a class that showed my how to made overheads and run a ditto machine. Ahh, the good old days. I have moved from running my classes with paper handouts and textbooks to sharing documents over the school network on a shared directory to having my own Website where all my documents and materials, such as screencast movies are stored for students to access from home or school. I am still moving stuff from my school's network to the cloud. It seems I have seen it all. But not yet.

After having a class Website since I could code HTML back in the nineties, I am thinking that I might be working too hard. Classroom Managements Systems (CMS) such as Moodle, Edmodo, Schoology, and My Big Campus have become so robust and user-friendly of late, that I can't ignore them any more. Did I mention that they are free also?

I have used Moodle as a platform for my Programming class for the last two years with mixed success. After visiting Zeeland East High School last week to checkout their iPad program, I was blown away by the number of teachers using Edmodo to manage their classes. I found the same thing when I visited Kent City High School two weeks ago. Many of their teachers are using Moodle or My Big Campus to help with their tablet program. Other schools are using a similar product called Schoology.

I will be looking at each of these classroom management systems in coming posts. I plan on test-driving Edmodo in a few of my courses this spring. Please check back in the coming weeks for an overview and tips on the CMS products listed.


No comments:

Post a Comment