What the Heck is a Content Management System (CMS)

Hi folks … I hope that this post finds you well…

If you have been around eLearning or the internet for a while, you have probably heard the term CMS or Contact Management System, however, I wanted to give you a bit more information to provide with a deeper understanding of the term…

A content management system is a technology built into certain web based mediums that enable you to more easily create, store, manage, organize and display content.

The primary attribute that makes a CMS a CMS is a built in database. The most common database used is open source MySQL. However with its recent acquisition by Oracle, this might change at some point in the future. So far there has been no mention of availability being curtailed.- keep your fingers crossed.

There are numerous learning mediums that take advantage of the CMS database concept. The ones that come to mind are:

  • The Blog
  • The Wiki
  • The Learning Management System or LMS

I will be covering the Blog, the Wiki and the LMS in detail in later posts so stay tuned, but for now let’s focus on the structure of the CMS in each of the above mediums.

The Blog

The most common CMS enabled medium is a Blog and it takes advantage of CMS / Database capabilities primarily through a “post” or article structure that allows someone with minimal technical skills to publish articles in an organized manner so that it is easily managed and modified and accessible by the end user or reader.

In addition to this, the database structure allows the reader to comment on an article, allowing interaction between the author and reader.

The Wiki

The Wiki has a different database structure than a Blog. According to Wikipedia and where better to go for a definition of a Wiki, is a collaborative web site that allows for the creation and editing of interlinked web pages using a simple text editor.

So the Wiki database structure is more centered on page and other content connectivity with an emphasis on collaboration between a potentially large number of users. The term Wiki is Hawaiian for “Quick” or “Fast”.

The Learning Management System (LMS)

The term Learning Management System encompasses a large range of capabilities centered around the administration and delivery of educational content.

The LMS is available in a broad array of flavors, so the database structure can vary, however at it’s heart, most of them have the following structural attributes:

  • Administrative – where an educator or administrator and create content as well as track / manage student course access and progress on each available learning activity.
  • An LMS can provide a great deal of flexibility in granting various levels of access and user rights.
  • Student – access to course basic progress information as well as course content in some instances.

All three of the mediums I just covered rely heavily on the Content Management System and while there are others, the one’s that I covered are leading examples of CMS applications in use today.

As I mentioned , we will cover the capabilities of each of the above in more depth in later posts, but I wanted to give you an overview of the foundational technology and some of the practical applications that you are already familiar with.

 

Resources

Blog: http://wordpress.org

Wiki: http://sourceforge.net/projects/tikiwiki/

LMS:

http://moodle.org/

http://www.joomla.org/

 

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