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Why Aren't Course Management Systems Penetrating Faster?

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Web-Based Laboratories and Classes

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1309.1 - 8.1309.7



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Paper Authors

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Edward Gehringer

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2158

Why Aren’t Course-Management Systems Penetrating Faster? Edward F. Gehringer North Carolina State University


Course-management systems such as Blackboard and WebCT promise to enhance the on-line experience of students in face-to-face and distance education alike. Yet many course Web sites are put together without them—even those of technologically savvy “early adopters.” Often instructors continue to manage their Web sites with rudimentary tools. Is this because the systems are not user friendly, because they promote policies (such as access restrictions) the instructors are not comfortable with, or because the learning curve is too steep? Or is it because they are not promoted effectively by the schools that adopt them? This paper reports on a survey of 160 educators regarding their use or non-use of these systems, and their satisfaction with them. It looks for differences in the way they use the Web, compared to instructors who “roll their own” Web sites, and assesses how difficult it would be to take an existing course site and place it within a course-management system.

1. Introduction

Course-management systems* have been around for several years, and by now, almost all universities have adopted them. That was the easy part—the hard part is getting faculty to use their features. Anecdotal evidence and observation led the author to suspect that a lot of the usage of these systems is just token. To test this hypothesis, the author created a Web-based survey on this topic and announced it on several listservs, including the ASEE Engineering Technology listserv, the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education member listserv, and the NACADA Commission on Technology in Advising TECADV-L list. The survey was conducted in January and February 2003. One hundred ninety-seven responses were received. Most of them (174) were from the United States. Ten came from Canada and eight from Australia, with Israel contributing one and Taiwan two. Of the 197 responses, 67 came from instructors in some form of computing or computer science (many of whom are in colleges of engineering), and 64 came from other engineering instructors. Anonymous responses were allowed, but instructors were allowed to give their name and e-mail address for followup questions.

2. Ubiquitous systems

Out of the 197 respondents, 171 (or 87%) reported that their university had adopted a course- management system. Sixteen more reported that their department or college had adopted a CMS. Most of the rest didn’t know whether their university had adopted a system. Just nine

* Course management systems are increasingly becoming known as “learning management systems,” reflecting the fact that they can be used in teaching outside regular credit courses.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition 1 Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Gehringer, E. (2003, June), Why Aren't Course Management Systems Penetrating Faster? Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12479

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