Course Management

Course management systems serve to integrate services and tools that are used to support technology-assisted instructor-student collaboration. In particular, course management systems offer these benefits:

  • Time Management: Many course management systems present a view of course responsibilities (assignments, deadlines, synchronous events like lectures or seminars) to the student in an electronic calendar. This feature assists students in managing these responsibilities, and often provides links to detailed information around the event or activity. Some products also allow a student to integrate personal events or tasks into the calendar.

  • Student Portal: Some course management systems are growing into more comprehensive student portals – windows into a broader set of student courses, activities, and involvement. For instance, a student portal could provide a single entry point for a student into the entire set of courses the student is taking in a given semester. Time management functions could then span courses and areas of interest more easily.

  • Program Portal: Course management systems can also be used to represent and manage a subset of the curriculum designed around a particular school, department, or degree program. Once again, the courses that make up that program being represented in the course management system can be organized for a more comprehensive view of their relationship together.

Selected Course Management Systems

Product Unlimited License * Dev. Lang. Comments
WebCT $3,000 perl • Univ of BC heritage
• fairly simple presentation
Web Course in a Box $3,000 perl • Virginia Commonwealth University heritage
• slightly better presentation
• working on a program portal ("Web Campus in a Box")
LearningSpace $$$ Lotus Notes • less comprehensive in feature sets
• requires Lotus Domino server and Notes client for course administration
CourseInfo $5,000 perl • Cornell University heritage
• comprehensive feature set
• developing a student portal ("Campus")
TopClass 4 months free ? • Server only supported under NT 4.0, Solaris, Linux, MacOS
• CGI-based, along with ISAPI and NSAPI
• Navigation a little difficult; does not use frames, but navigation buttons whose meaning is not always too clear
ClassPoint ? ? • Have not seen demo
• Server only runs under NT
• Product seems to support synchronous learning only, with strong video support
• Students are required to be at a unique IP address (possibly even a consistent address), probably to support video
The Learning Manager ? ? • Have not seen demo
• Microsoft-centric; requires MS-Word and IE
CAPA $2,600 ? • Have not seen demo
• Students use terminal or web access; instructor uses NeXTstep or X-windows access
• Very Postscript-centric
• Geared toward the hard sciences and mathematics
• Seems best suited for homework and exam automation
Connecting Communities of Learners free ? • Developed originally at FSU
• Currently maintained at Penn by GSE
• Educational philosophy may not support all required functions

* 1 server

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Contact: Dr. Noam H. Arzt,
Last modified:  01 February 2012