A course management system (CMS) is a collection of software tools providing an online environment for course interactions. A CMS typically includes a variety of online tools and environments, such as:
An area for faculty posting of class materials such as course syllabus and handouts
An area for student posting of papers and other assignments
A gradebook where faculty can record grades and each student can view his or her grades
An integrated email tool allowing participants to send announcement email messages to the entire class or to a subset of the entire class
A chat tool allowing synchronous communication among class participants
A threaded discussion board allowing asynchronous communication among participants
In addition, a CMS is typically integrated with other databases in the university so that students enrolled in a particular course are automatically registered in the CMS as participants in that course.
The decision to use a CMS in a traditional face-to-face course has implications for course design that often go unnoticed by instructors in their initial use of such systems. This module lists technical and pedagogical tips that instructors should consider as they place materials into a CMS. While it is intended primarily for instructors who are using a CMS for the first time, instructors who have already used a CMS in other courses might benefit by using these tips as a checklist.