Picture yourself rushing to class, carrying piles of Photostats on that article/case study/exercise that is planned for the class. Balancing these piles with books and a laptop, pencil case and maybe that cup of tea that you just didn’t manage to have time to finish.

Does it feel familiar? I am sure that we all can identify with that scenario. Well, software designers have come up with a variety of solutions, it is called a ‘Content Management System’ (CMS). These systems allow the teacher or lecturer to upload course content, notes and a variety of other resources to assist the students. However, not many of these solutions offer additional support in terms of the pedagogy that the teacher or lecturer uses. One such CMS that does offer this is CourseSites, an online free solution that not only offers the ability to store all those articles, case studies and video clips, but furthermore offers tools to assist in creating an environment for blended learning.

CourseSites is powered by BlackBoard, which is a paid version of this CMS. Essentially CourseSites is an online learning environment that enables you to set up an online course that works with your particular teaching style. It also enables the student to access all the resources you wish them to have, as well as breaking the boundary of the traditional classroom by offering a virtual classroom environment.

There are a variety of technological tools that may assist you with increasing the students’ performance. These tools come in the form of setting up tests that get autograded, journals, blogs, IM, emails, ability to upload video clips and images, mash ups and embedding of external web2.0 items.

Furthermore, CourseSites offers you the ability to collaborate with the students, monitor their performance (through reports on their engagement with the site), as well as managing their grades.

However, due to the fact that CourseSites is free there are certain limitations. The first limitation lies in that you can only invite up to 50 students into your ‘classroom’. The second biggest limitation is that you can only have up to five modules per pseudonym/user name. Other than these limitations, there is not much to impede setting up an amazing course, with a variety of blended learning tools…leaving you then to balance that cup of tea with not much else to worry about!

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