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Desire2Learn and Blackboard

Learning management systems are evolving. They are becoming less like traditional LMS’ and more like what many have been describing as personal learning environments. This week I had the pleasure (?) of attending two separate LMS presentations – one from Desire2Learn and one from Blackboard. A significant divergence between the two: D2L is making LMS far simpler to use: easy to create content, easy to manage profiles/options, online dialogue, manage learning resources, etc…and Blackboard is seeking to innovate the LMS through tools like Scholar, community portal, eportfolios, etc. I taught with D2L several years ago. Many elements of the tool looked similar to what I saw this week, but were generally cleaner, more effective (for teachers in particular), and more developed.
At the Beyond Boundaries conference, I attended a presentation (marketing session) by Blackboard. I was impressed. Blackboard lost enormous favor within academic circles with their patent claims. I suspect more than a few executives (and most salespeople) regret the decision. While being publicly assailed for the last few years, Blackboard has been quietly innovating their platform through a strong focus on community and participatory web tools. If they dropped their patent claims and embraced, rather than antagonized, the educational community, I imagine they would get significantly more favorable reaction from the community they are (or are seeking to) serve.
I can see the appeal of LMS’ to administrators and teachers. They integrate what is currently a very messy and confusing space of technology and tools. While early adopters like the chaos of different tools and constant experimentation, most educators do not. But my concern remains that we sacrifice future flexibility for current convenience. The greater flexibility of distributed tools remains a strong draw that exceeds organization and ease of use provided by centralized tools (at least for me…).


  1. I would like to extend an invitation to you to compare what you have learned about Desire2Learn and Blackboard with another LMS – Scholar360.

    It was designed by professors, so it’s easy to use. It combines all the academic features of an LMS/CMS with a secure social network that students love.

    Friday, October 5, 2007 at 9:31 am | Permalink
  2. Donna wrote:

    I am still struggling with the way LMS and CMS replicate the traditional classroom. I agree that these tools are evolving and attempting to move more into learning spaces, however, I still struggle with the way in which they are all locked away in a “gated community.” We know learning takes place beyond the four walls of a classroom, yet we keep restricting the online learning environments with firewalls and passwords. To me, it seems to go against the whole concept of online learning.

    Sunday, October 7, 2007 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  3. Liping wrote:

    I really like what you said about “my concern remains that we sacrifice future flexibility for current convenience.” I think there will always be early adapters who are technological savvy and are keen on trying out new technologies. But for the majority, they probably have to compromise flexibility for the sake of convenience. What we will see in the future might be a more dynamic landscape where different tools serve the needs of various users.

    Monday, October 8, 2007 at 1:05 am | Permalink