If you haven’t already read the interesting article on how some colleges are weighing using blogs instead of Blackboard at The Chronicle, check it out here:
It has a fairly balanced look at both sides of the issue. The last paragraph proves my point that I have made over and over again about Blackboard: the people in charge just don’t know what they are talking about. Here is the direct quote:
Blackboard is trying to keep up.
Michael L. Chasen, the company’s chief executive, has told The Chronicle that the latest version of the software integrates some Web 2.0 tools and still offers plenty of features that blogging packages can’t match, like online gradebooks.
My question has always been – why do you need an LMS or program of any kind? Why limit your students to just a blog or a LMS? Why not create a simple platform that aggregates whatever tool they use into one spot for easy of collaboration accross tools? That has been the question we have been asking with our New Vision for Learning Management Systems idea, that will hopefully morph into an open source project soon.
I forgot to also respond to this legitimate concern raised in the article:
Some professors asked whether it was possible to run a blog that only students could see, noting that they had concerns about making course activities public.
The short answer is, in WordPress and a few others, yes. The University I work for installed WordPress MU for anyone (student or teacher) to use. They were easily able to connect it to our university system – you log in with the same ID/password you use for email, and your blog is automatically set-up. Custom blogs for, say, groups or departments can also be created. There are also a few instructors that keep it private for only their classes. Our IT department was able to connect specific blogs to specific class rolls. But even if you can’t do that, there are plug-ins that let you authenticate with users you want and then only authenticated users can see the blog.