Computer Information Systems in Education/Chapter 3/Section 3 -- Learning Management Systems

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Blackboard Vs. Charlene SIS - An Educational Learning and Information System By Charlene R. Cobbs

Reading Objectives

When you finish reading this chapter, you will:

1. Know what a Blackboard is.

2. Understand the process of the four stages of how the Charlene SIS was designed.

Vocabulary Words








In the 1980's, when you walked into a classroom, you were destined to find wooden desks, a chalkboard and a global map of the United States. Not in today's classrooms. You might still find the global map of the United States, but the wooden desk have been replaced with metal tables and chairs and the infamous chalkboard is now a blackboard, or a web-based software through which a teacher can post classroom material, announcements, grades, etc., as well as use to teach lesson plans. Students no longer have to use their imagination to explore anything, they can just turn on a computer, click on a few links and go anywhere the World Wide Web can take them. Technology has replaced almost everything we used to do by hand. Instead of getting on that yellow school bus to go on field trips, classrooms are taking virtual field trips. We no longer have to travel across the world to learn about other cultures, students can now use videoconferencing capabilities to talk to students in the classrooms of Japan. We have evolved into a world where technology has brought about measurable changes in how our children are taught and in how they learn.

The Blackboard information system is not only useful to the school systems that purchase them, but also to the teachers who use them and to the students who learn through them. School administrators use blackboards to help students develop learning and innovative skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration. They also strive to bridge the gap between students and adults, such as their teachers, who are teaching the new skills and their parents who can also use the blackboard to follow their child's success. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a collaboration of government, founding organizations and individual entities, work with a variety of States to "design new standards, assessments, and professional development programs that prepare students with the 21st century skills they need to be successful in school, work, and life" (

The Design of Charlene SIS

The blackboard is a valuable tool in the classroom, but does it really do everything that we need it to do? The Charlene SIS is a new information system that was designed to be used inside and outside of the classroom. This system not only has blackboard capabilities, but it provides interactive lesson plans, electronic worksheets, videoconferencing seminars, webinars for parents and so much more. This information system was designed to be an interactive learning tool for teachers, students, parents and other school officials. The Charlene SIS was designed in four stages to fit all the needs of the users: the planning stage, the analysis stage, the design stage and the implementation stage. Let's discuss these stages to see how the Charlene SIS was created and what it does.

Gnatt Planning Chart for Charlene SIS


A plan is a realistic view of your exceptions. When you're planning to design an information system, you have to set goals. It helps to know who your designing your system for, what they need the system to do, how large the system will be, what information the system will provide for tracking and data purposes and what type of equipment is needed to operate the system.

The students, teachers, parents and school officials of Richland County School District One, in Columbia, SC participated in a survey that helped in the planning of Charlene SIS. For the students and teachers, they were asked questions about what they wanted the system to do. Some students wanted the system to be fun, colorful and interactive. Some teachers wanted it to be able to help them create lesson plans, worksheets and rubrics. They also wanted it to be able to help with newsletters and progress reports so that they could inform parents of upcoming events as well as inform them of their child's progress in class. Parents wanted to be able to communicate with teachers and they wanted to have some type of help when it came to understanding State standards, homework assignments, test scores and other matters that were communicated to them by the child or notes from the teacher, that were unclear or miscomprehended. School officials wanted to offer parents training that could be communicated through videoconferencing or webinars. This helped us know who we were designing the program for and what they needed the system to do.

The school officials knew that because they using a server, a computer that controls access to hardware, software and other resources on a network and provides a centralized storage area for programs, data and information (Discovering Computers, 2007), that was connected to a mainframe, a large, expensive, powerful computer that can handle hundreds or thousands of connected users simultaneously (Discovering Computers, 2007), they were able to power a system with a large information system, if needed, so we knew that if the information system was large, the school had the adequate equipment to operate the system. We also know that it was capable of holding data to back up tracking and stored information. Other factors that that school officials were concerned with was making this information system their official website page so that links could be accessed through that page and they wanted to be able to provide technical support for teachers.

Planning Timeline

    First stage of Planning       First stage of Analysis            Second Stage of Design
     June 2007                        November 2007                     April 2008
Second stage of Planning         1st & 2nd stage of Design             Implementation Stage
    August 2007                    January - March 2008                          May 2008


Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it ( That is what was done to design Charlene SIS to better fit the needs of everyone who would be using it. Every child has a different learning style. Wouldn't it be great to be able to use an information system that provides a personalized learning program for your child to help them learn at their own pace? Well Charlene SIS can do that. With this information system, children have access to the system, at school or at home if they have access to the computer, and can log-in on to the system, on their own time to work on school lesson plans, to complete electronic worksheets, to review work assignments they worked on today, to get their homework assignments, to send emails to other students or teachers, etc. The design includes a student section that is kid friendly, has age appropriate material, is censored to obtain only information and links to websites that are approved by the teachers and they can interact with other students using the interactive educational game portal, which allows the students to participant in Math, Language Arts, Reading, Science and Social Studies games as a group.

Teachers can set up links to websites, or web pages with a collection of information accessible through the Internet, that can provide practice material that the students can work on, at their own pace. Teachers can also upload electronic worksheets and other material that the students can use as extra credit to catch up on low classroom or test scores.Teachers can create newsletters, lesson plans, and rubrics using uploaded templates and can put them on the parent section for the parents to review. Parents can participate in video conferences with teachers on the parent section and they can participate in webinars that help them find out more information about testing, homework assignments and so much more.

The designers of Charlene SIS, analyzed the planning goals and tried to accommodate everyone who was using the system by breaking down the planning objectives into smaller parts and designing it so that every one's needs were met.


The Design of the information system involved finding a model or structure for the system. We knew what who it was for, what they wanted it to do and we had to design it to look like like the plan we formatted. The information system had to have a profession scheme but it also had to be kid friendly, so we gave it a professional background that would appeal to the adults, but added fun clip art, with moving objects to appeal to the students. The main page, which was the school district's main page, had the district logo on it and pertinent information what the school district offered, their schools and the information system was accessible by clicking on a side bar menu for teachers, parents and students. Once you clicked on your option, it would take you to your section of the information system, for example, students would go to the student page and once the student logged in, they could access all of the sections that were for the students, and vice versa for teachers and parents.

Teachers are the only ones that could access the students and the parents page and were able to make changes to anything they submitted on either page. Their section has templates for lesson plans, newsletters, etc.; Their section allows them to chat with each other for ideas, allows them to schedule video conferences with parents, allows them to email students and parents, etc.

Parents were able to view their pages and could click on their child's teachers' page to find out any information that the child's teacher has posted on her page. On the parents page, was also a place where they could schedule a video conference with their child's teacher and a section where they could sign up for a webinar to get more information about subjects of concern to their, such as grades, standards, testing, etc.

School officials had access to all of the sections and could print data or tracking information, etc. School curriculum coordinators update the curriculum sections and provide support and information for teachers as technical support is available to provide teachers who were trained on how to use the system with ongoing support. In addition, two system analysis were hired to help with problems may occur during the operation of the system.

A considerable amount of research, thought, modeling and interactive adjustment went into the design of Charlene SIS. The system was tested by a test subject of students, parents, teachers and school officials, and the information system was re-designed several times, before it could be used. After a two year time frame and a budget of $ over 140,000.00, Charlene SIS was finalized and put into production.


Charlene SIS was implemented and put into production on June 1, 2008. Although the designed was approved, we did a pilot run of the program in middle schools in the school district first and after a year, the program had manifested to all schools, elementary, high school, charter and adult education sites within the district. By June 1, 2009, the system was up and running and being implemented all over the district.

The plan was put into effect, and the analysis helped to design an educational, fun, innovative tool that everyone could use. Like every system, Charlene SIS has flaws, but overall, it's been highly effective in educating students, parents and teachers.

Case Diagram

Concept Map

Link to Concept Map :Italic text


Answer the following questions in complete sentences. Italic text

1. What is a Blackboard?

2. Charlene SIS was designed in four stages, what were they?

3. What is the chapter's definition of Plan?

4. What's the chapter's definition of Analysis?

5. Who was Charlene SIS designed for?

The Assessment was created using the Assessment Generator. It can be accessed on line at:


About the Blackboard Learning System (Release 6) Instructor Manual

Assessment Generator Website

Blackboard Website

Discovering Computers 2007, Shelly, Gary B. & Vermaat, Misty E., 2008

Discovering Computers 2009 Complete, Shelly, Gary B. & Vermaat, Misty E., 2008 Chapter Title: Chapter 12 - Information System Development

Partnership for 21st Century Skills Website