Final Paper for Socio-Technical Futures

Final Paper for LIS 590 AQ – Socio-Technical Futures

Student Communication in Content Management Systems: A Comparison Between Student Engagement in On-Campus and Online Courses


In current higher education practice, content management systems (CMSs) are now seen as a necessary information and communication technology (ICT), having been adopted by more than 90% of higher education institutions. When instructors make use of tools available to them, CMSs have proven to have beneficial effects for students, such as improved access to course materials and resources, easy digital submission of assignments, and online grade books. CMSs are also promoted as increasing student engagement, with the assumption that students will make use of asynchronous collaborative communication tools such as discussion boards and wikis. While researchers early in the 2000s argued that so-called digital native students already have high rates of socialization online, and so would naturally gravitate towards course-based communication tools, adoption of these tools has been far less enthusiastic than initially expected. Unless specifically required to use the CMS communication tools, students enrolled in on-campus courses tend to demonstrate relatively limited engagement with them, preferring to have their discussions face-to-face. Online students usually do not have the option of face-to-face communication, so make more extensive use of collaborative tools. Additionally, some online courses also utilize Virtual Classrooms (VCs), in which students and faculty share synchronous lessons and discussions, which increases the likelihood of student engagement and active interaction. These differences between online and on-campus courses suggest that expecting equal engagement with the communication tools is impractical, as despite being digital natives, both online and on-campus current students prefer to use the most direct communication method available to them.