College Consortia Share Experiences of Implementing a Common CMS

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF CENTRALIZING: A group of community colleges in California adopted a “common course management system” (CMS)—a central LMS to offer and support online classes available across member institutions. Before the colleges got too far in implementing the CMS, they commissioned research to learn how similar consortia have gone down similar paths. On Monday, O’Neal Spicer and Phil Hill of MindWires and Michelle Pilati of California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative (OEI) released a report that documents lessons learned from adopting a common CMS.

Amid the key findings:

  • Cost savings were a strong driver of common CMS adoption and continue to be the primary motivation after integration.
  • Over time, colleges have seen pedagogical benefits to a common CMS such as freed resources to focus on improving online teaching, pedagogical approaches, and course structure on the local and systemic levels.
  • Drawbacks include: a single issue in the common CMS hurts the entire system; trouble with centralized decision-making; waste created by unused excess IT capacity.

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