Posted by: emapey | July 11, 2008

Course Management Systems, Pedagogy and Construction of Knowledge

Course management systems, by virtue of their intent and design, create limitations on faculty independence of instruction. Since such systems are simply products marketed to institutions in order to integrate resources, they are the equivalent of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and thus reflect a move toward standardization as a way to ease management issues (Danaher et al 2004, Katz 2003). Decisions about which systems to use are often made by campus technologists and administrators, rather than faculty. According to Katz, “The CMS has shifted from being based on the bottoms-up energy of a small cadre of inventive faculty to being the embodiment of a top-down institutional strategy”. These programs “automate and standardize”, and “although the CMS does not dictate either a discipline or a pedagogy, it does posses a structure that threatens faculty hegemony” (Katz 2003). This is because the pedagogy of Blackboard/WebCT is based on managerial and administrative tasks centered on instructor efficiency: gradebook, test creation, threaded discussion, rosters, and instructor-student messages. Indeed, “Faculty adopt course managment systems principally to manage the more mundane tasks associated with teaching, especially teaching large classes” (Morgan 2003). Many of them never move beyond these basic uses, despite the many interactive features now offered. Why?


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