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This is How We Do Things Here: Developing a Policy Manual for CMS Usage - page 3 / 8





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copying, and deleting course sites.  Academic Concerns include topics related to training, instructional support, and compensation.  Finally, the Technical Issues category deals with tech support, size limits, authentication, and system integration with other software.  


Licensing:  Most, if not all, CMS packages are licensed annually, rather than purchased outright.  Therefore, it may be beneficial to specify on whose authority or recommendation the decision to renew – or not – is made each year.  An explanation of how the system is evaluated prior to the decision or specific factors taken into account may prove helpful in the long term, especially in the event of staff turnover.  Questions to consider might include, “Will faculty have input into decisions that may significantly change their instructional options?”  And “Will special initiatives need to be established, such as a student technology fee, in order to ensure adequate funding for uninterrupted use of the software?”

Security:  With computer viruses, worms, and the threat of hackers on the minds of IT staff at every institution, planning for system security is a routine element of tech support.  Some concerns specific to CMS support might include whether students will be allowed to post files directly to a course site (by attaching files to a discussion board posting, for example) or whether users will have the ability to retrieve e-mail addresses from within the system.  Access to student information, such as ID numbers or grades, must also be tightly secured and care given to ensure that user roles (especially those that allow access to student data) are judiciously assigned.

Copyright:  Virtually all reputable institutions have copyright policies in place, and it would be prudent to include a link to relevant sections of those policies.  At a minimum, it’s a good idea to give a nod toward the institution’s official interpretation of the Fair Use Guidelines and/or TEACH Act and how these relate to the use of the CMS, especially for posting course materials.  Questions typically addressed by these policies relate to whether password-protecting the course sites provides adequate protection against infringement concerns, and the suggested procedures for obtaining permissions from copyright holders.  If options for using online reserves for library materials or virtual course packs are available, information on these choices could be included in this section, as well.  

Intellectual Property:  Here, also, the institution probably has policies established governing ownership of works created by faculty and staff.  Providing a link to these policies, along with a concise explanation of how they apply to course sites in the CMS, can offer reassurance (or fair warning) to faculty considering the use of online tools and teaching materials.  One consideration that may be unique to the CMS environment is whether faculty are able to take their course sites with them to a new institution, should they change jobs, or for new faculty to bring their sites with them.  Most systems allow sites to be downloaded into a compressed file, stored on CD, and later re-uploaded to a different server (running the same CMS, typically).  

Zvacek, Susan M.

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