Formal university-based distance education has been around for over 100 years. For example, Cornell University established the Correspondence University in 1882, and Chautauqua College of Liberal Arts in New York was awarding degrees via correspondence courses in 1883 (Nasseh, 1997). Soon many other educational institutions, including the University of Chicago, Penn State University, Yale University, and Johns Hopkins University were offering these non-traditional learning options for their students. With the entry of the personal computer into homes and workplaces in the 1980s, learning started to become more technologydriven. However, it was not until the 1990s, with the proliferation of the World Wide Web, that the concept of technology-enhanced education began to change drastically.
What’S Driving The Usage Of Lmss?
Knowledge is now being seen as a source of competitive advantage, so there has been a shift from viewing learning as an administrative task to one of strategic significance. Thus, in addition to the obvious need to organize, coordinate, and administer learning effectively, there are other forces driving the increased use of LMSs. Cost savings is the leading reason that corporate America invests in learning management systems (Dobbs, 2003). Companies want their skill sets consistent across their operations. Labor shortages, limited resources, and corporate responsibility are all increasing the need to manage learning (Hall, 2003). As corporate learning becomes more sophisticated, attention will point to enterprise learning management systems that will tie into corporate goals and sales, manage all learning, act as a knowledge repository, and assist in talent, certification, and compliance management (Bersin, 2005).
In educational settings, adoption of learning management systems has been widespread (Coats, 2005). Universities are seeing distance education as a way to decrease costs, decrease the need for classrooms, increase access to education, and increase their student population (Minelli & Ferris, 2005). Faculty members are being told they must have online content, driving a need to make the process easier and less time intensive. In addition, instructors have found that the use of course management systems actually improves their teaching (Ehrman & Gilbert, 2003).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Enterprise Learning Management System (ELMS): A full-featured learning management system that also includes some of the features and capabilities of a Web portal and content management system. Content that is stored within the system is structured within a content hierarchy that does not need to be tied to a particular course.
Virtual Classroom: Technology designed to support synchronous collaboration by allowing a live classroom experience to be conducted over the Web (Cooke-Plagwitz & Hines, 2001).
Asynchronous Learning: Learners use computer and communications technologies to work with remote learning resources, without the requirement to be online at the same time or in the same location. Participation in online discussion boards is an example of asynchronous learning.
Synchronous Learning: Learning that occurs in real time. Classroom-based, face-to-face instruction is an example of synchronous learning.
Learning Management System (LMS): A software application used to plan, implement, and assess learning processes. Typically, an LMS provides instructors with ways to create and deliver content, monitor student communication and participation, and assess student performance, and provides students with the ability to use interactive features such as threaded discussions and video conferencing.
Content Management System (CMS): Software used to manage the content of a Web site. Typically, a CMS consists of two elements, the content management application and the content delivery application. Typical CMS features include Web-based publishing, format management, revision control, indexing, search, and retrieval.
Web Portal: A primary starting site for users when they get connected to the Web. Most portals offer users the ability to create a site that is personalized for their individual interests.