Educause has given its first ever “Catalyst Award” to Course Management Systems for their “broad impact on higher education”.
This strikes me as a wrong-headed award to a class of software that is largely a prime example of a siloed environment provided by systems that really shouldn’t have had to exist in the first place.
I’ve said this before, but just to reiterate – most of what you get in Course Management Systems are a set of common communication functions (easy web authorship with templates, discussion forums, group management, etc) wrapped in a thin layer of workflow management. But the blog or wiki or mail list management tool contained in a CMS is unlikely to ever be as good as the individual tools that are widely available – would you rather blog in Sakai or WordPress?
If we really had the tools we deserve we’d be able to integrate the good tools that are continually appearing on the open market with our own workflow and data from our student systems to provide the rich functionality that our students and faculty really deserve.
I do seem to have a minority view on this one, but as I watched the video honoring our late colleague Howard Strauss while writing this post, I thought Howard would agree with me on this one.