Online technologies make a powerful contribution to university teaching and learning. The widespread adoption of learning management systems in higher education and the prevalence of subject-based websites reflect this. It is not only distance education students who benefit from the potential of online support for university subjects and the various developments captured under the banner of ‘e-learning’. Campus-based students also benefit from ready access to information and opportunities for online communication and interaction.
From the advent of the internet, universities have been exploring the ways in which an online presence for subjects can be used to support teaching and learning. In response, various software systems have evolved specifically to support the creation and management of subject websites. The trend has been toward combination of website design tools and software into integrated packages, and these have come to be known as ‘learning management systems’. The intent behind the design of such systems has been to provide ease of use for staff, including in most cases the facility to link to other university information systems. The term ‘LMS’ is now widely used to refer, generally, to any suite of systems that supports subject websites, and as a result subject websites are often referred to as ‘LMS sites’.
This guide presents a conceptual framework for planning subject websites, based upon educational purpose rather than technology. The booklet provides a practical tool that presents the options and considerations in a question-based approach.