Learning Environments Research vol:17 issue:3 pages:319-337
Given the rising popularity of content management systems (CMSs) in higher education, we investigated how students use the available CMS tools, as well as whether the moment of using a CMS tool affects students’ learning. This temporal dimension has been neglected in current research on CMS use. More insight into students’ tool-use is particularly important from an instructional design perspective because research has repeatedly revealed that a learning environments’ effectiveness depends heavily on students’ adaptive tool-use. Data were collected by logging the frequency and the time students (158) use the available tools within a CMS. Repeated-measures analyses revealed that students’ tool-use changed throughout the course, a dynamism that was different for each tool and was related to course-specific deadlines. Significant temporal student differences were found for some types of tools. Furthermore, students’ course performance was significantly impacted by the moment students used the course material outlines and the discussion board. In line with expectations, effects were different dependent on the tool. Hence, by examining students’ tool-use from a temporal perspective, this study highlighted that the timing of use matters. Furthermore, this timing depends on tool functionality. Consequently, the results have interesting implications for designing CMSs and they suggest implications for releasing some type of CMS tools at specific moments in the learning process.