CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

Development, Implementation and Evaluation of a Generic Course Management System (CMS) Tutorial for College Faculty

Date of Award

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Getrude W. Abramson

Committee Member

Gerorge K. Fornshell

Committee Member

Timothy Ellis

Abstract

Online learning is becoming a fact of life in higher education. Seeing the additional student markets, higher education administrations pressure faculty to develop online courses and convert current courses to this medium. The creation of online courses comes at a considerable price in terms of time, effort, and resources. Many faculty, new to online teaching, are overwhelmed with the demands of preparing and training for their online courses. They must acquire a different set of skills than are needed in a traditional classroom and learn how to use a course management system (CMS).

CMSs enable educators to distribute and publish courses on the Web. Each product differs in the steepness of the learning curve, suitability for achieving various instructional goals, and capability to integrate text, multimedia, discussion, and email. However, all products have similar features such as threaded discussions, course information, lecture notes, external links, grading, digital drop box, and online chat.

As the number of online courses increases, the number of CMSs, such as Blackboard, WebCT, and Educator, also increases. Higher education institutions often change CMS providers as various providers merge and new providers offer new products. Cost considerations also motivate changes. It is a challenge for institutions to determine which program to use. An institution makes a decision to choose a CMS, only to discover it needs to make the same decision again the next year. Training faculty new to online teaching and supporting existing online faculty to maximize the benefits of these changing tools are ongoing challenges for many institutions. Time constraints on the part of trainers and instructors limit the options for scheduling training sessions and the reluctance of most faculty to move ahead with online teaching impedes most training endeavors. Appropriate training and support will ensure that the instructor can effectively teach and facilitate the online course and not feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the technology.

However, new training programs are needed each time an institution changes its CMS. This study developed, implemented, and evaluated a generic tutorial to support faculty as they learn to teach online using any CMS.

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