The online learning material or objects that you will develop during the course of your project need to be placed or stored in a container or system from where they may be easily retrieved and used. In this unit we will be looking at systems that serve this function with the addition of features and functions that contibute to a learning environment for an OER user.
At the end of this unit you will be able to
Learning Management System
A learning management system (LMS) is a software system for planning, delivering, and managing learning events within an organization, including online and classroom programs, and instructor-led courses.
LMSs may be web-based or standalone. They can be procured from a vendor or one could use an open source LMS such as Moodle.
LMSs come with a varied range of functions to provide the end user with a friendly learning ecosystem. An LMS is usually more focussed on management than on content generation. An LMS is used to perform administrative tasks like managing students, their progress and performance tracking. The advantage of using an LMS to manage your content is in being able to sequence your content and to create a manageable structure for instructors/administrative staff.
Freeware and proprietary LMS
There are a large number of learning technology companies marketing LMS, many of which are very popular within the academic community. Prominent among these is the Blackboard (http://www.blackboard.com/) company that has patented its LMS. WebCT is a BlackBoard product that provides a basic framework into which web pages of content are placed; another is the SharePointLMS (http://www.sharepointlms.com/) based on the Microsoft sharepoint server platform. There are a number of advanced learning technology companies that offer LMS and service support.
Popular open source LMS projects include Moodle (www.moodle.org) and Sakai (http://sakaiproject.org). These are LMS software that may be downloaded for free and deployed on your local server. These are attractive options for educational institutions and those with budget constraints. An open source LMS provides for cost savings and greater control of the environment, but at the cost of additional local staff being required.
Read more from this blog of how learning management systems have evolved:
Read about the desirable characteristics in an LMS:
An assessment of open source learning management systems is available at this link:
Content Management Systems
CMS is a software like LMS that allows users to create, edit, manage and finally publish a variey of content(text, graphics, video, documents etc) in a number of formats. A centralised set of rules, processes and workflows ensure coherent, validated electronic content.
A workflow is a sequence of steps or operations that must be performed to complete a task. A workflow could have a number of actors performing a variety of actions, with action paths, results and decisions that could be represented as a flow diagram. Also see Workflow scenarios for digitization and distribution
A CMS provides authoring tools designed to allow users with little knowledge of programming languages or markup languages to create and manage content with relative ease. Most systems use a database to store content including metadata. To facilitate reuse and enable flexible presentation options, the content is often stored in formats like XML (Extensible Markup Language). A presentation layer displays the content to website visitors based on a set of templates.
Robertson, J. (2003). So, what is a content management system? Accessible at http://www.steptwo.com.au/files/kmc_what.pdf. in November 2009.