Lane raises one of the major criticisms of the CMS. I think there are three:
- First is the criticism that they influence pedagogy by presenting default formats that channel learning activities into an instructivist, teacher-centred approach (Lane, 2009; Coopman, 2009; Coates et. al, 2005; Ansorge & Bendus, 2004).
- Second is the criticism that most instructors use the CMS for document delivery, ignoring the communication and collaboration tools. (Malikowski, 2008; Harrington et. al., 2004; Morgan, 2003)
- Third is the criticism that CMSs represent a barren, closed environment when contrasted with the wealth of social networking, blogging, collaboration, file sharing, and other online tools that students are using for informal learning (Sclater, 2008; Kennedy 2009; Siemens, 2004).
But as Lane rightly points out these flaws are not wholly a factor of the CMS but rather the way they are used. For the most part the CMS was decided on for administrative reasons and imposed on teaching staff, training is pretty much limited to 'how' and not 'why', and support is thin on the ground. And as Nathan's example show many of us are restricted by administrative policies.
I'm not sure whether I'd describe CMSs as barren environments -- it is the very fact that they appear rich that makes them deceptive. And any time one says, "well, this CMS can't do that", Blackboard will be doing it somehow (albeit in a closed manner) within a year or two.
Since the design of these behemoths seems to lead to "plug and play" behavior in novice instructors, another solution might simply to not introduce them to the CMS until they've done something else first. I notice a lot less "wow" comments and gullible behavior among faculty who are comfortable in Facebook or Ning, or have used other technologies in class.
If we start with the individual instructor's pedagogy (far preferable than starting with a team design approach), the question becomes, "what will help you do that?" The answer will only be a CMS when the instructor strays from the question, and starts talking about gradebooks and record keeping.