How to choose a Content Management Tool according to a Learning Model

17 May 2005
How to choose a Content Management Tool according to a Learning Model

What educational possibilities are feasible with a certain tool? What tool is an adequate support for a specific type of a teaching model? For what teaching model should we choose what kind of tool?

This contribution is a summarized version of the article “The Zen Art of teaching – Communication and Interactions in eEducation” by the same author.

In a recent publication [1] we have examined over 130 Learning Management Systems (LMSes) and we described the functions of 16 systems in detail. In a new publication [2] we followed up these evaluations with a survey of more than 250 Content Management Systems (CMSes) and a detailed description of 15 leading products. With the cooperation of Marco Kalz we categorised these huge amount of CMSes under pedagogical premises, chosing “interactivity” as the crucial criteria. To be more specific we used the type and amount of didactical interactions.

In the following lines, we present three prototypical models of education and five different educational types of Contents Management Systems. Then we analyse the models of teaching that are most suitable to every kind of Content management System.


Three prototypical models of education

1. To transfer knowledge (Teaching I)

In this model the origin of students’ knowledge is based on knowledge possessed by the teacher. Teachers know what students need to learn and it is the teachers’ responsibility to transfer this knowledge into the student’s mind as easily as possible. The transferred knowledge is abstracted knowledge prepared in a special way (the so-called didactical preparation), so that students are able to capture the content not only fast, but also to memorise it on a long term basis. There are some links and relations of this model with behaviourism, a now outdated learning theory.

2. To acquire, compile, gather knowledge (Teaching II)

This teaching model assumes that learning is an active process, which has to be planned, revised and reflected by the learner. The learner itself is an active entity and it is his/her activity, which supports or even is a necessary condition for the learning process.

In Teaching I the teacher is not interested to control or even observe the actual learning activities undertaken by the learner. What counts are just the results whereas in Teaching II the whole learning process with all its intermediate steps, its difficulties and provisional results are under surveillance by the teacher. In Teaching I learners essentially get the feedback wrong or true whereas in Teaching II teachers try to help to overcome wrong assumptions, wrong learning attitudes and to assist in the reflection process in order to aid the student to build up a consistent mental model of the subject domain. Teaching II has kinship to cognitivism.

3. To develop, to invent, to construct knowledge (Teaching III)
In the model of Teaching II all problems and tasks are presented by teachers. But if we want to teach students to step onto the shoulders of teachers, to invent new things and to produce and generate new knowledge we have to provide a special learning environment. And it has to be a challenging environment, which is sufficiently complex, uncertain, instable and unique so that old traditional knowledge or solutions do not work anymore.

In the third teaching model, teachers and learners alike have to immerse into a situation where the outcome is not predetermined. They both have to master situations at hand and the differences between teachers and learners maybe are only more experiences and more meta knowledge on how to reflect on complex situations (e.g. how to design local experiments) on the teacher’s side. Teaching III has strong links to constructivism.

Five different educational Types of Content Management Systems (CMSes)
Under this pedagogical motivation we have sorted out 5 main types of CMSes.


1. The “Pure” CMS
This type is the traditional CMS, which historically was also the first one to appear on the market. It is characterised by a workflow between different types of authoring rights. Prototypically we discriminate between editor-in-chiefs, (who are overall responsible), co-editors (who are responsible for certain domains e.g. the business editor) and authors (who just write articles but have no rights to publish them on the website without inspection by the editors.) From the administration point of view we may differentiate between a managing editor (who is responsible for categories and scriptable functionality of the CMS) and a graphical editor (who designs the templates).


From our educational point of view these authoring rights can be mapped onto educational functions like teacher, assistant teacher, guest teacher for the content and head master and administrator for the organisational issues. The person to whom the content is directed (the reader) is in our case the learner or student. It should be clear enough at this point that this type of CMS represents, in our notion, the knowledge transfer model of teaching (Teaching I).

Typical examples for this type of CMS are:


2. Weblog Content Management Systems
“...weblogs are pages consisting of several posts or distinct chunks of information per page, usually arranged in reverse chronology from the most recent post at the top of the page to the oldest post at the bottom…” [19, p.7]

Because of its chronological order weblogs can be used as a discussion-oriented tool for a personal process-related reflection. There are two functions, which are important in an educational context:


• TrackBack: This is a notification mechanism, which allows authors to link their comments to an ongoing discussion over the net.

• Syndication: This is a way where authors can spread their content. It is a special format (RSS = Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) which other authors can subscribe to. They even can integrate the text from the subscribed source into their own website.


Weblogs can best be understood as discussion-oriented tools, which have the potential to spread the discussion all over the world. With the custom to write short personal comments (“micro contents”) weblogs animate discussion within the weblog, where the comment has originated, but at the same time it supports a kind of meta-cognition in the own weblog and therefore spreads the discussion over the globe. In this sense weblogs are almost a perfect match for Teaching II but can also be used for Teaching I (e.g. as a traditional CMS) or even better for Teaching III. (For their multi-purpose use weblogs are already called Swiss Army Tools, but as we will see there is yet another – better suited – candidate for a multi-purpose tool.)


Examples are:
• Movable Type: http://www.movabletype.org/


3. Collaborative oriented CMS (C-CMS or Groupware):
Essential for these systems is the common development and administration of shared resources. Here we can find a kind of protected interaction of a specified group. There exists no broader audience where these interactions are aimed at. There is also no intention expressively announced for a specific learning goal: The members of this work group learn by doing/ working collaboratively. Even if there could be a differentiated system of authoring rights, the prototypical application treats all members of the workgroup equally.


In our theoretical framework this type of CMS is best suited for Teaching III.

Typical examples under this category are:
• PhpGropupware: http://www.phpgroupware.org/

4. Content-Community-Collaboration Management Systems (C3MS):

C3MSes are the former already mentioned Swiss army knife for teaching. This type of CMS offers the possibility for (virtual) communities to develop domain specific content.


They use collaborative mechanisms and many specialised modules (e.g. who is online, ratings, surveys, reviews, quotes, etc.) are extremely community-oriented. C3MSes can work as traditional CMSes, as well as collaborative weblogs. Combining all contributions on one website a C3MS can be used to build up a domain specific repository. (For more details on this type of CMS from a pedagogical point of view see the excellent paper by [4]).


The perfect match for a C3MS is – as is hinted already by its name – the model of Teaching III. As different modules can be switched on and off it can be used very easily for the other teaching modes as well.


Typical examples are for this new kind of CMSes are:


5. Wiki Systems
Wiki systems reverse the central feature of CMSes – their differentiated systems of authoring rights. The core principle of Wikis can be expressed with the phrase: Everybody can change everything! Behind this simple approach is hidden – in terms of our theoretical framework – the assumption of an ideal consent oriented communication structure of a Habermasian provenance. And the interesting thing: Although this idealisation by Habermas was criticised many times by contemporary scholars it works as far as Wikis are concerned! Look for instance at the Wikipedia – a joint enterprise for a web based lexicon. This common enterprise started January 2001 and collects now already 531 311 English articles. Meanwhile the idea has spread into 93 (!) languages with at least more than hundred articles, and where 22 of them have already more than 10.000 articles and into 8 sister projects (Meta-Wiki, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquote and Wikisource). And note: All this work is done voluntarily and for free!


A CMS-Wiki is a group of applications (WikiWebs), which uses a special markup language (WikiWords) for their publishing system. The interface is extremely simple and this is maybe one of the main reasons for their fast and wide distribution.


Like Groupware Wikis are collaborative-oriented software but they push the notion of collaboration to its limits. Wikis burst the boundaries of a specified group (everybody in the world is free to collaborate) and of a clearly defined right system (everybody can write, add, revise and edit and even delete every article!). Nobody is the owner of the article s/he has started.


Under our theoretical framework Wikis are situated in the realm of Teaching III, which is –remember – no purposeful teaching at all. All the different Wiki installations are either based on different programming languages or have distinct features, modifying the original Wiki.


Examples for Wikis are:
• Wiki: http://c2.com/cgi-bin/wiki (the original Wiki)
• Twiki: http://twiki.org/ (for business use)
• Swiki: http://minnow.cc.gatech.edu/swiki (based on the Squeak programming system)
• Zwiki: http://www.zwiki.org/FrontPage (based on Zope)
• JSPWiki: http://www.jspwiki.org/Wiki.jsp (based on Java Server Pages)


Conclusions
There are many tools which can be used as a hammer, but there is only one tool type specialised for a specialised task e.g. to force nails into walls. Depending on the size of the nails and the material of the walls we are using even a special variety of hammers. In the knowledge loop we have added the most appropriate tool to support the required activity.


The knowledge loop Figure


fig. 7

Finally, keep in mind that all these schemes are just an approximation as every claim can be always challenged by objective, subjective and societal reason at the same time.

In the following lines, we present three prototypical models of education and five different educational types of Contents Management Systems. Then we analyse the models of teaching that are most suitable to every kind of Content management System. Three prototypical models of education

1. To transfer knowledge (Teaching I)

In this model the origin of students’ knowledge is based on knowledge possessed by the teacher. Teachers know what students need to learn and it is the teachers’ responsibility to transfer this knowledge into the student’s mind as easily as possible. The transferred knowledge is abstracted knowledge prepared in a special way (the so-called didactical preparation), so that students are able to capture the content not only fast, but also to memorise it on a long term basis. There are some links and relations of this model with behaviourism, a now outdated learning theory.

2. To acquire, compile, gather knowledge (Teaching II)

This teaching model assumes that learning is an active process, which has to be planned, revised and reflected by the learner. The learner itself is an active entity and it is his/her activity, which supports or even is a necessary condition for the learning process.

In Teaching I the teacher is not interested to control or even observe the actual learning activities undertaken by the learner. What counts are just the results whereas in Teaching II the whole learning process with all its intermediate steps, its difficulties and provisional results are under surveillance by the teacher. In Teaching I learners essentially get the feedback wrong or true whereas in Teaching II teachers try to help to overcome wrong assumptions, wrong learning attitudes and to assist in the reflection process in order to aid the student to build up a consistent mental model of the subject domain. Teaching II has kinship to cognitivism.

3. To develop, to invent, to construct knowledge (Teaching III)
In the model of Teaching II all problems and tasks are presented by teachers. But if we want to teach students to step onto the shoulders of teachers, to invent new things and to produce and generate new knowledge we have to provide a special learning environment. And it has to be a challenging environment, which is sufficiently complex, uncertain, instable and unique so that old traditional knowledge or solutions do not work anymore.

In the third teaching model, teachers and learners alike have to immerse into a situation where the outcome is not predetermined. They both have to master situations at hand and the differences between teachers and learners maybe are only more experiences and more meta knowledge on how to reflect on complex situations (e.g. how to design local experiments) on the teacher’s side. Teaching III has strong links to constructivism.

Five different educational Types of Content Management Systems (CMSes)
Under this pedagogical motivation we have sorted out 5 main types of CMSes.1. The “Pure” CMS
This type is the traditional CMS, which historically was also the first one to appear on the market. It is characterised by a workflow between different types of authoring rights. Prototypically we discriminate between editor-in-chiefs, (who are overall responsible), co-editors (who are responsible for certain domains e.g. the business editor) and authors (who just write articles but have no rights to publish them on the website without inspection by the editors.) From the administration point of view we may differentiate between a managing editor (who is responsible for categories and scriptable functionality of the CMS) and a graphical editor (who designs the templates).From our educational point of view these authoring rights can be mapped onto educational functions like teacher, assistant teacher, guest teacher for the content and head master and administrator for the organisational issues. The person to whom the content is directed (the reader) is in our case the learner or student. It should be clear enough at this point that this type of CMS represents, in our notion, the knowledge transfer model of teaching (Teaching I).

Typical examples for this type of CMS are:• Mamboserver: http://www.mamboserver.com/
• OpenCMS: http://www.opencms.org/ • Plone: http://plone.org/• Typo3: http://typo3.org/• ZMS: http://www.zms-publishing.com/2. Weblog Content Management Systems
“...weblogs are pages consisting of several posts or distinct chunks of information per page, usually arranged in reverse chronology from the most recent post at the top of the page to the oldest post at the bottom…” [19, p.7]
Because of its chronological order weblogs can be used as a discussion-oriented tool for a personal process-related reflection. There are two functions, which are important in an educational context:• Syndication: This is a way where authors can spread their content. It is a special format (RSS = Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) which other authors can subscribe to. They even can integrate the text from the subscribed source into their own website.Weblogs can best be understood as discussion-oriented tools, which have the potential to spread the discussion all over the world. With the custom to write short personal comments (“micro contents”) weblogs animate discussion within the weblog, where the comment has originated, but at the same time it supports a kind of meta-cognition in the own weblog and therefore spreads the discussion over the globe. In this sense weblogs are almost a perfect match for Teaching II but can also be used for Teaching I (e.g. as a traditional CMS) or even better for Teaching III. (For their multi-purpose use weblogs are already called Swiss Army Tools, but as we will see there is yet another – better suited – candidate for a multi-purpose tool.)Examples are:• Blogger: http://www.blogger.com/start • Manila: http://manila.userland.com/ and Radio http://radio.userland.com/ • Movable Type: http://www.movabletype.org/• pMachine: http://www.pmachine.com/• TypePad: http://www.typepad.com/
3. Collaborative oriented CMS (C-CMS or Groupware):
Essential for these systems is the common development and administration of shared resources. Here we can find a kind of protected interaction of a specified group. There exists no broader audience where these interactions are aimed at. There is also no intention expressively announced for a specific learning goal: The members of this work group learn by doing/ working collaboratively. Even if there could be a differentiated system of authoring rights, the prototypical application treats all members of the workgroup equally. In our theoretical framework this type of CMS is best suited for Teaching III.

Typical examples under this category are:• BSCW: http://bscw.fit.fraunhofer.de/ and http://www.bscw.de/ • Convea: http://www.convea.com/ • EGroupware: http://www.egroupware.org/ • IBM Lotus Notes: http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/ • PhpGropupware: http://www.phpgroupware.org/
4. Content-Community-Collaboration Management Systems (C3MS):

C3MSes are the former already mentioned Swiss army knife for teaching. This type of CMS offers the possibility for (virtual) communities to develop domain specific content. They use collaborative mechanisms and many specialised modules (e.g. who is online, ratings, surveys, reviews, quotes, etc.) are extremely community-oriented. C3MSes can work as traditional CMSes, as well as collaborative weblogs. Combining all contributions on one website a C3MS can be used to build up a domain specific repository. (For more details on this type of CMS from a pedagogical point of view see the excellent paper by [4]).The perfect match for a C3MS is – as is hinted already by its name – the model of Teaching III. As different modules can be switched on and off it can be used very easily for the other teaching modes as well. Typical examples are for this new kind of CMSes are:PhpNuke: http://phpnuke.org/ PostNuke: http://www.postnuke.com/.5. Wiki Systems
Wiki systems reverse the central feature of CMSes – their differentiated systems of authoring rights. The core principle of Wikis can be expressed with the phrase: Everybody can change everything! Behind this simple approach is hidden – in terms of our theoretical framework – the assumption of an ideal consent oriented communication structure of a Habermasian provenance. And the interesting thing: Although this idealisation by Habermas was criticised many times by contemporary scholars it works as far as Wikis are concerned! Look for instance at the Wikipedia – a joint enterprise for a web based lexicon. This common enterprise started January 2001 and collects now already 531 311 English articles. Meanwhile the idea has spread into 93 (!) languages with at least more than hundred articles, and where 22 of them have already more than 10.000 articles and into 8 sister projects (Meta-Wiki, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquote and Wikisource). And note: All this work is done voluntarily and for free!A CMS-Wiki is a group of applications (WikiWebs), which uses a special markup language (WikiWords) for their publishing system. The interface is extremely simple and this is maybe one of the main reasons for their fast and wide distribution.Like Groupware Wikis are collaborative-oriented software but they push the notion of collaboration to its limits. Wikis burst the boundaries of a specified group (everybody in the world is free to collaborate) and of a clearly defined right system (everybody can write, add, revise and edit and even delete every article!). Nobody is the owner of the article s/he has started. Under our theoretical framework Wikis are situated in the realm of Teaching III, which is –remember – no purposeful teaching at all. All the different Wiki installations are either based on different programming languages or have distinct features, modifying the original Wiki.Examples for Wikis are:• Wiki: http://c2.com/cgi-bin/wiki (the original Wiki)• Twiki: http://twiki.org/ (for business use)• Swiki: http://minnow.cc.gatech.edu/swiki (based on the Squeak programming system)• Zwiki: http://www.zwiki.org/FrontPage (based on Zope)• JSPWiki: http://www.jspwiki.org/Wiki.jsp (based on Java Server Pages)Conclusions
There are many tools which can be used as a hammer, but there is only one tool type specialised for a specialised task e.g. to force nails into walls. Depending on the size of the nails and the material of the walls we are using even a special variety of hammers. In the knowledge loop we have added the most appropriate tool to support the required activity.The knowledge loop Figure


fig. 7

Finally, keep in mind that all these schemes are just an approximation as every claim can be always challenged by objective, subjective and societal reason at the same time.fig. 7 References

[1) Baumgartner, P., H. Häfele, et al. (2002). E-Learning Praxishandbuch: Auswahl von Lernplattformen.
Marktübersicht - Funktionen - Fachbegriffe. Innsbruck-Wien, StudienVerlag.

[2] Baumgartner, P., H. Häfele, et al. (2004). Content Management Systeme in e-Education. Auswahl, Potenziale und und Einsatzmöglichkeiten. Innsbruck-Wien, StudienVerlag.

[3] Bausch, P., M. Haughey, et al. (2002). We Blog. Publishing Online with Weblogs. Indiana, Wiley.

[4] Schneider, D. K. (2003). Conception and implementation of rich pedagogical scenarios through
collaborative portal sites: clear focus and fuzzy edges. International Conference on Open and Online Learning (ICOOL), University of Mauritius.


To know more:

Explication of the Weblogs’ TrackBack mechanism: http://www.movabletype.org/trackback/beginners/
How Weblogs’TrackBack works: http://www.cruftbox.com/cruft/docs/trackback.html
RSS 2.0 Specification: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss
How Weblogs’ Syndications works: http://www97.intel.com/scripts-syndication/HowWorks.asp
What is RSS?: http://rss.userland.com/whatIsRSS
Weblog as a kind of Swiss army knife?: http://istpub.berkeley.edu:4201/bcc/Winter2002/feat.weblogging2.html
PostNuke Portal of the department of Educational Technology of the Fernuniversitaet in Hagen: http://bildungstechnologie.net
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

To know more:

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