Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Practical aspects of the LMS

A variable should be defined in one place in a program. It should be clear to the programmer where that should be. This makes it easy to change.
Now in Blackboard, a learning management system (LMS), say I want to set a mid term.
Where should the date for that reside? In the syllabus? in the online submission system? in the course calendar? In the course modules? In an announcement? In an email sent to all participants? on a discussion board?
Now there is a good case to be made for putting it in a number of these places, and most instructors will do so.
Now the fun comes when the course is bundled up and redeployed the following year. Ideally you change the date in one place and it propagates to all the target documents, but in practice.... dream on.  These are issues which have been tackled in Computer Science. they are solved problems, but in LMS world we seem to be back at the point where RPGIII and Cobol ruled the world. Typically you have to track through your course and find every place where you placed a date and change it.  This is fine until some student comes up and tells you that the missed the midterm because the date was wrong, and can show you one that you missed.

What I’d like would be a scheduler which would allow me to roll back the course to the start each time I present it, and then present me with a calendar of proposed changes, based on how I built the course last time, and allow me to customize these changes as they go in.
It doesn’t give me a unique point for inputting the mid term date, but it would prompt me with each of the places I inputted it the first time.

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