I asked a friend of mine, who's using Blackboard at the school she's at, what their problems with it are. Her response totally confirms what Michael is saying above, that you have to dig deeper than the feature lists to judge the systems. Here's what she had to say:
- There's no way to figure out what's happening without viewing 6-7 different pages (announcements, dicsussions, files, yadda...) in each of the courses you're following. So people rely on email instead of the online forums, for fear that nobody's going to hear what they're saying.
- You can't see who's online
- No web mail
- The home page lists all courses she's ever taken -- no way to see only the courses she's taking this semester.
- You have to enter personal data (phone number, address, picture) for each course you're following, so nobody does that.
- You can't change your email address
- You can't get your schedule into the calendar, mostly because you can't create recurring events, so you'll have to create every single lecture. So nobody's using the calendar
- You can't save your chat room session, so nobody's using that for their team meetings. In short, while it all looks slick and cool, it doesn't work so well in practice. Of course, these are things that they could potentially fix, but it also sounds like they're not really paying attention. Don't know.
Can anybody else help us substantiate the differences, or the deficiencies of other systems, and consequently dotLRN's selling points :)