You may have heard that UC Davis is replacing the course management functions of MyUCDavis with a new course management system, SmartSite. While SmartSite offers many improvements over MyUCDavis, instructors still need to think through their use of SmartSite before plunging into the new system.
SmartSite raises a number of pedagogical questions. Depending on how you use SmartSite, it can serve as either a learning management system (LMS) or a collaborative learning environment (CLE). Although occasionally these terms are used interchangably, an LMS differs significantly from a CLE, and the difference is more than a philosophical one.
An LMS is all about management. In SmartSite, tools that best represent this approach include the schedule, syllabus, announcements, tests & quizzes, modules, and gradebook. These offer ways to manage the dissemination of course content and assess student learning.
A CLE promotes collaboration. In SmartSite, tools promoting collaboration are the wiki, forum, chat, messages, and to a lesser extent e-mail archive. These tools make learning a bit more transparent and allow students to help each other study. They also–the wiki especially–are good locations for group projects.
In which way do you use SmartSite? Do you feel you have successfully combined the LMS approach with the CLE without students feeling overwhelmed? If so, please share in the comments!