Blogs and Course Management Systems

The question recently came up on my campus as to how would blogs and course management systems co-exist? My initial reaction was, “not well.” Course Management Systems (CMS) programs like WebCT and BlackBoard (a.k.a., BlackWeb or BlackCT) are designed to create a safe environment secured from casual engagement by non-registered students of the course. In the best sense, this mirrors traditional classrooms that provide environments where faculty and students can freely exchange ideas and engage in the process of education as outlined by the terms of the course syllabus.

I now understand and believe that blogging enhances the CMS experience. A faculty blog would be the “published” content of a their research or academic interests. Faculty would post content to their blog and reap the benefits of the blogging community. The CMS could then be linked to their specific blog content and would be worked into the course using the traditional CMS tools. I think that’s the first time I’ve combined CMS and traditional - times have changed.

The Faculty would essential get a two ‘fer. Author/Publish once. Reference many.

What’s IT all about.

I read a very interesting article by William H. Graves in the latest edition of EDUCAUSE. “Improving Institutional Performance through IT-Enabled Innovation.” For those in Higher Education IT departments, it outlines an understanding of IT within Higher Education and a direction that I am sure many of my IT colleagues would agree has merit. We in IT have long appreciated that educational benefits and/or productivity gains comes from the empowerment of campus consitutencies to form partnerships to affect fundamental change. As Dr. Graves states, ” Well-managed and well-supported technology infrastructure has become a competitive necessity in the national economy, not as a competitive differentiator but as a tool to redesign service and production processes as the basis for competitive innovations that can improve quality, unit cost structures, market reach, and customer convenience and satisfaction….Competitive outcomes will depend on how well redesign efforts and resulting service innovations are executed to offer new services, improve service quality, retain customers, and reach new markets - all while reducing unit service costs.”

Of course, the challenge is how to make that happen. Cultivating an environment that embraces change as a strategic tool is what will enable universities and colleges to not only survive, but flourish.