Development of a New University-Wide Course Management System

Development of a New University-Wide Course Management System

Ali Jafari (Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-74-2.ch005


Distance learning is no longer a conceptual discussion, a buzzword, or a show-and-tell demonstration in a computer trade show. It is a multi-billion-dollar business moving its way up to the top of universities’ lists of priorities. University and college administrators are now convinced that the Web and the Internet can and will change their traditional teaching practices into a semi-virtual and virtual operation. This is the arrival of a new paradigm where students and instructors make fewer trips to campuses to receive or deliver lectures. A variety of computer tools and environments have been commercially developed and are being used to deliver distance learning content. Course management systems or course authoring tools are among the names used to refer to such software environments. Today there is a large selection of course management software packages on the market. This has created much debate over what brand of course management system a university should choose. Is WebCT better than Topclass? How does Domino Lotus compare to WebCT and BlackBoard? Many institutions have tried to compare and contrast different course management systems in order to make a decision. While some institutions have elected to use one or more off-the-shelf course management systems, others have developed their own software. The selection or development of the “right” course management system for an educational institution is probably one of the most difficult decisions that information technology administrators have to make. It is not like deciding on the selection of Netscape versus Internet Explorer or WordPerfect versus Microsoft Word. It is substantially more complicated due to the fact that a course management environment should function as an enterprise system, able to link to or include many services and resources already in place in the university. This includes student registration, course offering catalogs, computing account IDs, personal Web servers, student information systems, and library resources, as well as file servers. Failure to link with these resources will create an expensive, difficult-to-use, and resource-intensive course management environment. A well-designed course management system should include or share resources with the existing services. Many information technology administrators may not yet understand the importance of a well-designed course management system, and often they have deployed systems without understanding the conceptual framework behind them, or defining the functional and technical requirements of the university.

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