Let’s name it ourselves …

I was in IT before I was into Academic Technologies. And I was an American before that. Which means I too shorten and make acronyms out of everything. (Don’t get me started on Americans’ predilection to abbreviate and condense language, thoroughly disregarding precise speech, specificity of expression, poetic nuances… oops, I’m about to start…)

But the whole “CMS” is really too much. Contact Management System. Content Management System. Course Management System. Face it, “systems” manage something.

And sometimes its a Learning Management System (as if a Course Management System doesn’t involve the management of learning or teaching…). But Learning Management System used to mean a system which registers people for classes and takes their money, not to be confused with an SIS, a Student Information System. Supposedly an animal of a different stripe. But these days LMS and CMS are virtually interchangeable.

I kind of like where Sakai is going with this. I believe they coined the term, CLE, Collaborative Learning Environment. At least they didn’t feel the need to create a system for managing something. Collaboration is a good word.

We can all see the tool set and data sharing requirements are growing… we want inter-related systems which use the same data and report on that data sliced and diced for Administrators tracking program outcomes and improvements and accreditation processes (ePortfolio1); Students tracking their own learning outcomes and growth experiences and presenting tailored views to their parents, friends, colleagues and potential employers (ePortfolio2); Instructors teaching multiple sections of the same course or lecture sections with required lab sections in face to face modes, or in distance-online modes; Researchers who teach and involve their students and colleagues in their projects, studies and research (makes them better teachers/better researchers); Symposium leaders networking with colleagues world-wide… Over-lapping tool sets. Over-lapping data needs. Access Control on Steroids. Reporting on Steroids.

What is it named?

12 thoughts on “Let’s name it ourselves …

  1. Unless you’re an IBM shop. Then it’d be:
    Enhanced Basis for Computer Driven Internet Courses

  2. But of course forward thinking systems are changing to:
    UNIversity Courses Online – Distance Education

  3. Someone has to resist the urge to reuse old acronyms… I guess it’s not going to be you, eh?

  4. Not today at least 🙂
    It is a good topic for discussion, though.
    “Collaboration” seems like a good word. “Integrated” and “Secure” might also be useful, given the proposed very close integration with an institution’s SIS. “Learning” and “Environment” register at least a little bit on my marketing and buzzword detector, though.

  5. How ’bout Secure Academic Collaboration …or … heck, I’m stuck on Collaborative Learning Environment (CLE). That consortia must have some pretty smart people on it to have come up with that. I can’t get it out of my head.

  6. John,
    I used ePortfolio1 and ePortfolio2 to delinate two specific uses of a portfolio (which I defined in the post). We throw around all kinds of ‘portfolio’ language without knowing which use we’re putting it to. Bb portfolio users (the portfolio product), I’ve heard, can configure their product to function as either ePortfolio1 (where Administrators are aggregating learning outcomes data) OR ePortfolio2 (student-created and managed for their specific audiences, such as job interviews or grad school applications or simply to show off work to relatives), BUT the product can not be configured simultaneously for both functions. Is that still as clear as mud?

  7. Edward,
    I didn’t say this before, but I thought your use of ASCII was extremely clever! Perhaps if we started blogging it, Academic System for Course Interaction on the Internet might garner adoption?

  8. Finally gathered my thoughts for a serious post about the naming thing:
    I think my approach to the naming thing would be to pull back a bit and look at the big picture.
    As implied in this post and others, next generation CMS/LMS/whatever software may have some interesting new features that break the mold of the traditional CMS. It’s no longer about _courses_ per se, but about some more nebulous Collaborative Learning Environment (for lack of a better term).
    But isn’t providing a Learning Environment the whole point of a College or University? Some facet of the Learning Environment does happen to intersect the Internet, but the software used to facilitate that intersection is not itself the Learning Environment. The software is just one item used to help create or maintain that environment. Other such items include electricity, cabling, computers, and the staff to keep it all working properly.
    So I’d probably try to work the “Utility” or “Infrastructure” concepts into the name of the software.
    I still can’t come up with a good name, though. Some of the obvious combinations are either taken or just don’t sound good. (Collaborative Learning Infrastructure: taken. Collaborative Learning Utility: bad, very bad: “Does your institution have a CLU? Nope, our institution doesn’t have a CLU.” Academic Collaborative Learning Utility: taken, plus they’ve got lawyers.)
    Oh well. The commercial players will probably want to play name games to try to differentiate their products anyway.
    I think the utility concept is good, though, and that if this sort of system is done really well it should just fade into the background and provide expected functionality without calling much attention to itself.

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