Doug Johnson of The University of Florida contributes a nice summary of support considerations for a course management system in the Spring 2004 Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration:
A Planning and Assessment Model for Developing Effective CMS SupportThe journal article is a good overview of a subject covered in more detail in the Report of the University of Florida Course Management System Advisory Group, August 2003 (warning — this is a 1.7 meg PDF file).
Doug describes the objective as follows:
The model presented here was developed to help assess current support needs and staff, allocate support responsibilities, identify and hire for needed skills and abilities, facilitate planning, and align CMS support with institutional priorities.
And the model itself….
…five basic processes form the foundation of this support model: define support staff roles, identify critical role responsibilities, estimate the necessary FTE commitment, assign the responsibilities, and prioritize importance of responsibilities
We’re doing quite a bit of planning around our CMS now, some of which is covered in an earlier posting, so I found this a good and quick read — a nice complement to the information that was shared in their recommendation.
I found Table 1, which outlines roles and specific tasks very useful. For our UBC context, which is quite decentralized, I might add another column called “Where” — where might I find that expertise on the campus. Some of the roles are contained within a single organization (for example – database administration), whereas others are distributed (e.g., we have learning support units in almost ever faculty unit, so our WebCT training expertise is deep, and located close to the faculty members — the trainers work together to provide both local and more campus-wide faculty learning opportunities under the WebCT Institute banner).
The table will be a nice tool for those who are struggling to understand what is needed to support an enterprise implementation of a CMS. Particularly if you add the “where column”. For example — one of the big shifts in going to an enterprise product will be to have database support. A Teaching and Learning Centre, which may house a CMS now may not have that expertise — but your systems group in administrative computing will. If you have a sense of the allocation of time needed, you may be able to negotiate with that group for time and share costs…
Lots of good ideas come out of this short paper. If this intrigues you, I’d recommend reading the Report of the University of Florida Course Management System Advisory Group, August 2003 as well.