Day 32 Alphabet Soup: LMS and CMS?


Online learning is an enormous industry and Learning Management Systems (LMS) have revolutionized the way we look at “managing” education.  When we discuss Learning Management Systems it seems like we begin to worship at the altar of a business model that puts customer satisfaction and product efficiency in the lead. Canvas, Desire2Learn, Blackboard, and Google Classroom are a few LMS vendors currently available.

Decoding the abbreviations and acronyms used in online learning can be confusing.  It is my understanding that a LMS is a platform for delivering e-content, not necessarily a course with a grade book and all of the features needed for teaching.  A Course Management System (CMS) creates the framework in which the content is stored and displayed on the website — it manages student enrollment, tracks student performance, and distributes course content.

What is the best LMS for our community college?  An institutional committee has been formed at College of DuPage including faculty, staff and administrators that will explore answers to this question.  The committee is charged with investigating multiple Learning Management Systems, comparing their advantages and disadvantages in an effort to continuously strengthen and improve our current LMS, Blackboard Learn. Will the committee recommend changing from our current LMS or possibly upgrading to the latest version, Blackboard Ultra?

According to the company’s log, Blackboard Ultra promises to empower instructors to better manage and plan the educational journey for their students: to create a simple way to develop curriculum, to ensure students are successful in their studies and to provide useful and timely feedback through grading to students.  Their “value promise” for students is to enhance confidence and minimize anxiety by helping them work collaboratively, experience their education in a way that makes sense to them, and to benchmark their academic progress and constantly improve.  Wow!  Sounds good to me.

I’m not sure if we will adopt a new LMS or not, but I am cautiously optimistic.  Will we make the move to BB Ultra?  If so, what additional tools will it provide and will these tools be useful?  Will a new LMS version of Blackboard include mobile access, interactive gamification, tracking and cloud based features?  Will assessment and attendance tools be built in?

Considering a LMS involves direct impact on our online learning environment, what is College of DuPage willing to pay for a new LMS or an upgrade to what we currently have? What will our budget allow? Satisfying the demand for a LMS that offers all the bells and whistles we would like in order to accomplish goals both in and out of the classroom is challenging. Stay tuned.




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