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This is How We Do Things Here: Developing a Policy Manual for CMS Usage - page 6 / 8





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theory, educational research, and sound instructional design, if this area is to be included in a policy document.

Training:  Will training or some form of system orientation be required of instructors prior to CMS use?  While required training can be time-consuming to provide, it may save staff time on trouble calls later.  If multiple instructors use a single course site, are all of the instructors required to attend training?  What about teaching assistants?  What if the instructor has prior experience using this CMS at a different institution?  Resistance to required training is a natural phenomenon, and carefully balancing the needs of instructors with the resources of the support teams can be a critical factor in the successful adoption of a CMS.  Related questions of whose responsibility it is to offer training/orientation activities and what such sessions will include may also be addressed in this section.

Compensation:  If additional compensation for course development is available, this should be explained.  Who is eligible for this compensation, how much is it, and what is expected of the faculty member who receives it?  If the CMS is being used primarily for enhancement of face-to-face classes, extra compensation for online course development may not be available, although any options for institutional grants or special project funding may be appropriate in this section.

Technical Issues

Size Limitations:  Technical constraints may require the establishment of size limits on course sites or on the size of individual files uploaded to the shell.  These should be clearly stated, along with any exceptions to the policy.  Information on software and support options for compressing files should also be provided for course developers.

Technical Support:  When a user can’t log in to the system, when a gradebook isn’t displaying scores, when a file doesn’t upload correctly, who is available to help?  Are there separate support units for truly “technical” problems (“The system doesn’t recognize my username!”) and what might be termed “usability problems” (“I can’t remember how to upload test questions into the pool.”)?  Appropriate response-time goals (e.g., answering messages within one hour) may be included here, as well.

Authentication and System Integration:  How will users be authenticated for access to the CMS?  Will they enter through an institutional portal?  Will users be limited to one account per person?  As more institutions integrate their large-scale software systems, these issues become critical to information access and security.  Schools opting for “single sign-on” run the risk that if a password is stolen, it provides access to everything; when each online system requires a different username and password, however, users have a tendency to write down – and lose – these codes.  Issues related to system integration (library access, grade submission, course enrollment, etc.) are larger than a single software package and must be decided centrally, with input from representative constituencies.  A CMS policy document should reference these policies and include links provided for those available online.

Zvacek, Susan M.

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