Blackboard’s newest release to showcase major usability enhancements

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In my day job we utilize Blackboard Learn 9.1 (we’re on the latest service packs as soon as they become generally available). Upgrades for hosted services are upgraded as part of their cost, at our convenience as long as we schedule 1-2 weeks out. Recently Blackboard announced its newest Service Pack which was introduced by Ray Henderson and presented over 45 minutes.  I’m increasingly interested in the fundamental differences between Moodle and Blackboard (and other LMSs) and have been watching several very closely.  While most LMSs are providing the same basic tool set, their approaches to aesthetics and design vary significantly.

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Until now, course creation and content management processes for Blackboard and Moodle were similar: click intensive, minimal drag and drop, prone to page loads, etc.  Themes for Blackboard were far behind the flexibility that Moodle has offered historically (not counting the numerous non-standard themes available).  With SP8 the course creation and course aesthetic for Blackboard has been turned on its head,

  • pervasive drag and drop
  • obvious editing features
  • rollover editing
  • simplified tabs
  • customize-able CSS (links, font change with themes)
  • most features, menus are just 1 click away
Below is a screenshot of the newest changes for Blackboard.  See anything you like?

The emphasis on fewer clicks, easier editing and improved aesthetics is obvious from the first glance.  Other Learning Management Systems should take note that Blackboard will not go quietly.  If you’re interested in checking out some of the Blackboard features (either as comparison or for ideas in a Moodle course) check out CourseSites.com which has some of Blackboard’s course innovations available already (themes and course layouts/types to name two).