I’m coming out and saying it: I like Blackboard, the much maligned learning management system that is the big dog in the market. I can’t claim to understand its business practices, but I think it works as well or better than any LMS. The complaints I often hear about it seem to be about it seeming claustrophobic or insulated from the real world, but I don’t think any other LMS can be any better in that regard, because, after all the S in LMS stands for system. Either you are comfortable working in a system or you need to stretch your edupunk wings and collect your own set of tools. I’ve blogged about that before, though.
I like Blackboard for what it is, a space where I have some design control (not enough), where work is connected to the Grade Center, and where all my course communication can reside in Announcements, Messages, and the Discussion Board.
Of their new tools, I like the wiki for peer reviews of drafts, which don’t really need to be on public view in a commercial wiki.
I do not like the blog tool that much, simply because it’s not a blog if the public cannot view it. It’s really just another internal journal, read only by the class, and we all know that students rightly do not consider their classmates to be a real audience.
If I really must have a tool outside of the system, what’s stopping me? Nothing. Blackboard does not dictate that you use its tools or that you keep students always locked within. You want to add work in a commercial blog or wiki? Then do so and link to it. You would rather students go to YouTube to view a video than view it in the Bb page? Then send them there. There are plenty of ways to make your Bb site one part of a mashup that includes other tools outside of it, while still having the benefit of its organization of student information.
I guess this rant is over.