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Raising the White Flag on our Course Management System Data Collection

As far as course management systems, the Maricopa system has quite the diversity for course management systems- 2 colleges using WebCT (moving Fall 2004 to a shared Enterprise server), 6 using Blackboard, 1 using MIDAS, a derivative of the Anlon product, and 1 developing a brand new LMS/CMS to pilot this fall.

We saw this starting back in 1998, when 2 colleges were separately licensing stand-alone versions of WebCT, and the other colleges were looking at a variety of systems– our office scheduled a series of demos with some nudging that they ought to consider going in together on these systems. The result? The colleges who started with WebCT stayed with it (individual servers), and seven who had none went in at the same time on individual site installs of Blackboard.

Hence Levine’s First Law of CMS-es: Most institutions are using the first CMS they tried.

Now not to suggest our colleges are short sighted, but you must understand that as a system we are about as decentralized as you can get, so there is no way one could from a central office, “tell” the colleges to standardize. This was the mode that worked well during the 1960s-1980s, a competitive collaborative environment. It is the culture. And changing that is tilting at big frozen windmills.

Anyhow, getting around to the title of this post- I thought it would be useful given the increase in usage of the CMSes into the early 200x years, we asked each site to report the most basic, almost not meaningful numbers:

  • number of active course areas in their CMS
  • number of active faculty accounts in their CMS
  • number of active student accounts in their CMS

This was gathered by me sending lots of emails to the folks running the servers at each site, and we were mostly successful at gathering that from 2000-2003, and the data shows steady, sharp rises in usage.

Over time it seemed to get harder and harder to get this information, perplexing since the data is readily available for these systems in the admin control panels. And in Spring 2004, by the time I got some responses, the semester was over, and the data wiped.

The flag is raised. I give up. It matters little to me since I am not even involved with supporting CMSes

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


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