DEFICIENCIES OF COURSE MANAGEMENT...
COURSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS 1 RUNNING HEAD: ATTITUDES ABOUT COURSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS Deficiencies of course management systems: Do students care? Abstract Course management systems (CMSs) support thousands of courses at colleges and universities worldwide, delivering fully online courses as well as supplementing traditional face-to-face instruction. While there are quite a few studies focusing on the numerous benefits and technological advantages of CMSs, there is a paucity of empirical work focused on user attitudes about the efficiency and ease of use of CMSs, and perceived usefulness of potential additional features. We developed an attitudinal scale to better define and quantify these constructs. We piloted the survey with 234 college students who used WebCT Vista as a supplementary of a face to face course. In this study we describe the development and initial validation of the scale. Since there is so little empirical work in this area, validating the instrument and identifying attitude factors should contribute to future research in this fast growing arena. We further discus findings from our quantitative and qualitative data which provide evidence that CMSs are still evolving tools, and need accommodations and improvements.
COURSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS 2 Deficiencies of course management systems: Do students care? Course management systems (CMSs) such as WebCT, Blackboard, Angel, Educator, and FirstClass are software systems designed to manage course content and course activities. These tools integrate technological and pedagogical features into a well-developed Web-based system that allows instructors who are unfamiliar with web-based technologies to design, deliver, and manage an online course. Common features in CMSs include content areas, discussion boards, chat rooms, assignment drop boxes, quizzes and surveys, and white boards. CMSs support student-to-student and student-to-teacher communication and collaboration. Students are able to share resources, collaborate, participate in forums, take online tests, access their grades, and upload assignments. Today CMSs support thousands of courses at colleges and universities and that number is growing at a staggering rate. While CMSs were initially developed to support distance education and fully online course delivery, they are also extensively used in on-campus classroom settings to compliment traditional face-to-face courses, or a so-called ���blended��� approach (Morgan, 2003 Simonson, 2007). The ease with which users can organize asynchronous and synchronous communication activities in CMSs is one of its most powerful features, because it enables (in fact, arguably encourages) instructors to create and support dynamic learning communities, consistent with a social constructivist perspective. This certainly explains some of the growth in on-campus blended courses (Dabbagh, 2004 Morgan, 2003). ���Perhaps no other innovation in higher education has resulted in such rapid and widespread use as the CMS��� (Harrington, Gordon, & Schibik, 2004, ���History of CMS��� section). In 2002 over three-quarters of all colleges and universities in the US had adopted a CMS, and
COURSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS 3 nearly one-fifth of college courses used a CMS (Campus Computing Project, 2002). By 2004, just a few short years from their introduction into higher education, such systems could be considered ���ubiquitous��� on college campuses (Molenda & Bichelmeyer, 2005). The recent merger of Blackboard and WebCT made Blackboard, Inc. the world���s leading provider of integrated e-learning systems, by itself serving more than 3,650 academic clients in more than 60 countries worldwide (Blackboard.com, 2005 Bradford, Porciello, Balkon, & Backus, 2007). It is possible that CMSs have introduced so much new functionality so fast, that end users have not had a chance to seriously reflect on what they need or want and have not yet critically examined these tools to ask questions like What else do I need? or How can these tools get even better to satisfy my educational expectations and needs?��� (Ioannou & Hannafin, in press). West, Waddoups, and Graham (2007) interviewed 30 CMS-using university faculty and surveyed 122 more to determine adoption patterns and to identify obstacles to CMS adoption. The authors noted though that is still limited research available on implementation issues surrounding CMSs. While there are numerous studies focusing on the benefits and technological advantages of CMSs, which we certainly appreciate, studies that focus exclusively on the technological limitations and deficiencies of CMSs are almost non-existent. There is a paucity of empirical work focused on user attitudes about the efficiency and ease of use of CMSs, and perceived usefulness of potential additional features. In this study we attempted to develop a scale to better define and quantify these constructs. We conducted an initial validation of the scale and extracted and identified attitude factors. Then, using student responses to both a Likert- type attitude survey and to an open-ended question, we attempted to confirm user concerns reported in the literature about CMSs. We also tried to determine how much users value specific features/ functionalities that are currently unavailable in most CMSs. Identifying important