Blended Learning in K-12/Types of Blended Learning/Classroom Websites Course Management Systems
The use of classroom websites and Course Management Systems (CMS) aid in the process of creating a blended learning environment. An article written by Klaus Schmidt, The Web-Enhanced Classroom, discusses four components necessary for successfully enhancing a course via the internet. The four components include: Administration, Assessment, Content and Community (Schmidt, 2002). One way to implement these components into a web-enhanced course is to use a Course Management System (CMS). A CMS allows for the administration of a web-enhanced course through the various tools included with the software. For example, a teacher is able to distribute handouts, set assignment deadlines, collect assignments and give quizzes from one location. This frees up time for the teacher, as stated by Schmidt, “A well-developed administrative component allows a teacher to spend more time interacting creatively with students and addressing higher level thinking skills rather than on mundane activities.” Enhanced communication between the teacher and students is another administrative benefit gained from using a CMS. A teacher is able to post announcements to the entire class or send an individual email. Instant feedback on assignments can be sent and grades can be accessed by the student at any hour of the day. In addition, grading policies and deadlines can be clearly communicated in a CMS. Communicating between teacher, student, and even parent, can also occur more frequently with the use of a CMS. A teacher can distribute material to the class ahead of time; uing a CMS means that “assignments and lecture notes can be posted in advance, and students can have continual access to them” (Zirke, 2003).
Although a variety of CMS exist, this section focuses on three CMS examples (Moodle, WebCT, Blackboard).
Free Websites for Teachers
According to the moodle Website, "Moodle is a course management system (CMS) - a free, Open Source software package designed using sound pedagogical principles, to help educators create effective online learning communities" (2005).
Teacher Vivian Evans, gives a personal account of Blackboard, stating that "Blackboard has got some good features...It supports synchronous chat and discussion threads in a way that is very clear. Site administration is another strength. You can control who has access to your site. You can also look back at what happened previously by clicking on a past date to see what was discussed" (Evans, 2005).