Katrina turned me on to a new Course Management System called CourseKit. The kicker about this one is that it was conceived and designed by three students with full time course loads because they weren’t happy with Blackboard.
First of all, I have to say that if students are having problems with Blackboard, to the point that they want to create their own alternative… that should say something. The point that it is three full time students creating this should make the rest of us stop and ask ourselves why we haven’t done the same.
So far, I like what I see from Coursekit. They wanted it to be simple and fun, and they got simple and fun. It was designed to resemble Facebook and you can easily post links, images, and comments on the course wall.
The flip-side is that it is still another one-size-fits-all option. If you want something different, you can post a link to it, of course (but you can also do that in Blackboard). It still feels like it is a walled garden, even if the walls are getting lower. But it is also still pretty new, so that may change.
There is a basic fundamental difference between this and the social learning environment (SLE) that we have been writing and presenting about. In Coursekit, you still basically use the tools and interface provided to you in the box. In an SLE, both the instructor and students choose to use whatever tools are out there and then tells the SLE where they are. The SLE would aggregate those and then combine them in one place to be exported to the interface that the students or instructor chooses (and everyone could have a different one).
But, that idea is still probably a few years from being accepted by even the bleeding edge folks (I say that knowing that most EGJ readers are probably miles ahead of even the bleeding edge types out there). So, given the choice between complex and clunky and simple and fun, I would take simple and fun any day.
(sidenote: I do know that Moodle 2.0 has taken great strides in integrating with external sites rather than just linking to them. It just has so many changes and I am so busy that it is taking me forever to wrap my head around it all. Expect some posts about Moodle2.0 at some point in the future).