a blog about technology management

A Capabilities Approach for the Next-Generation CMS

My eyes lit up when I saw this article in the latest Educause Review. The title made me think back to a session I went to in 2003 – Authority of Consensus: Next-Generation Course Management System Features. I left that session thinking, “yeah, I wish CMSes did all of this.”

This article actually is a chapter in a new book, Course Management Systems for Learning: Beyond Accidental Pedagogy. It looks like it could be good. Weigel starts by noting how CMSes assumed that all the characteristics of a classroom needed to be replicated in a CMS. As our eteam report noted, do what works best face-to-face when you’re face-to-face, and do what works best online when online. From the outset CMSes were constrained pedagogically. So perhaps it’s not fair for me to be so critical of CMSes, moodle had the advantage of starting fresh and avoiding the pitfalls of standard CMS architectures. The major CMSes have grown so big they would need to be rewritten from scratch to break free of their constraints. Sure, they keep adding features to break away from the functional approach to design, but at their core the course is a collection of functions.

Weigel sets out 4 learner-centered capabilities and 4 capabilities that could be incorporated into new CMSes.

  1. critical thinking capability
  2. self-confidence capability
  3. peer-learning capability
  4. knowledge management capability
  1. discovery-based learning capability
  2. 360 degree out-of-the-course capability
  3. knowledge asset capability
  4. teach-to-learn capability

Hhhmmm, I’m seeing some moodle-like things here. Thankfully Weigel explains what these are in the article. What is knowledge management and a knowledge asset? Take a read of the article yourself to get clarification.

The 4 CMS features (second list) are pointing to moodle. Item 1 is clearly constructivist. Item 2 suggests a blurring of the concept of “a course” and opens up interdisciplinary connections. While moodle does still have “courses,” the modular nature of it allows for sharing of modules between courses. Item 3 calls out wikis and I could see glossaries as fulfilling this too. With item 4 synchronous tools are called out. While currently weak, moodle 1.5 has a strong IM component and offers easy gateways to traditional IM clients and Skype (noted in the article). I’m interested to see what our students do with the IM gateways as most of the incoming students IM constantly.

I hope Weigel has looked at moodle.

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