Choosing the Right Course Management System for Distance Education Courses

Choosing the Right Course Management System for Distance Education Courses

Zafer Unal (University of South Florida – St. Petersburg, USA) and Aslihan Unal (Usak University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1936-4.ch012

Abstract

In the current market space there are many commercially available Course Management Systems (CMS) from which to choose, such as BlackBoard and Desire2Learn. The open source community has also been active in creating alternative course management system choices that are free of licensing costs (Moodle, Sakai). Institutions now have the choice between these competing CMSs, and it is not enough to just pick a package based on its price or feature list. Institutions considering implementing a CMS must carefully evaluate it before putting it to use with a student population. A trial was undertaken to consider whether Moodle warranted a more formal consideration as an alternative to the institution’s current CMS (BlackBoard) at a southeastern university. This report documents a detailed comparison of BlackBoard and Moodle CMSs based on students’ experiences that used both systems during the same course and investigates if Moodle warrants consideration as an alternative to the institution’s current course management system.
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Setting The Stage

Providing quality education requires that university administrators manage enrollment to maintain institutional integrity, while faculty must ensure effective and efficient delivery of instruction, effective communication with students, and collaboration between students and lecturers. Like all electronic technologies, CMSs are constantly evolving. This evolution imposes the need for continuous evaluation, consideration of alternatives, and appraisal of the resources and opportunities currently available. USF St. Petersburg has been using Blackboard as a CMS for a number of years. The Blackboard CMS is an intuitive and easy-to-use academic software program dedicated to the advancement of teaching and learning through technology. Academic staff and students are familiar with using this tool within various courses. The IT Support (ITS) staff is also very experienced in the administration and maintenance tasks involved with this system. However, numerous problems (listed below) were reported by students and faculty with the use of BlackBoard over the time. This warranted a study for trying out a new Course Management System (Moodle) for exploration and comparison of user experience.

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