GCU has had enough...

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by PaulC, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. PaulC

    PaulC Member

    GCU is migrating from Blackboard to Angel. Seems they believe they have tried as much as they can and still no satisfactory resolution to their problems. Over the next two semesters, GCU will be moving to Angel’s Learning Management System (www.angellearning.com).

    Could this be a trend. Time will tell.
  2. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

  3. AuditGuy

    AuditGuy Member

    Just curious what problems they had with Blackboard?

    "still no satisfactory resolution to their problems"
  4. teachtech

    teachtech New Member

    They've had problems with BB for years. If they can't deal with that they'll never be able to handle Angel. It's got a much higher learning curve than BB for both teachers and students. AND the discussion forum is AWFUL. So is the gradebook for that matter.

    This ought to be real interesting :) I've used Angel twice and I love it, except for the DB. Their teachers are going to have a real tough time learning to do what they have to do in Angel. It's not the least bit intuitive and takes a lot of training.
  5. nycrican2

    nycrican2 New Member

    I could not agree more about Angel, as a college faculty member, my college requires all faculty to use Angel and we recently changed from Blackboard.

    I loved Blackboard so much better and agree that the grading and discussion board parts of Angel is so inferior.

    Also, the learning curve for Angel is not only higher for the faculty but also for the students. I have to constantly train students how to get a current grade report.

    However, found out that Blackboard recently purchased Angel so perhaps Angel will improve somewhat. I certainly hope so.
  6. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    Excelsior uses blackboard... it's not pretty (at least in Firefox).
  7. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    Anybody have any experience with Web CT? Is it any better or worse?
  8. truckie270

    truckie270 New Member

    I have experience from both a faculty and a student perspective in Blackboard, Angel, and WebCT. WebCT is the best one in my opinion, especially the latest version which is what I use at Valdosta State.

    The newest version of BB also has a lot of improvements and is user-friendly provided the instructor sets the class up effectively. Angel is overly-complicated and does not provide any added benefit over a well-constructed BB course.

    The best learning management systems in my view are custom ones developed by schools that devote the time and resources to get it right. From a faculty perspective, the new UoP eCampus is one of the better systems (when compared to BB, Angel, WebCT). Franklin also has a new system which is leaps and bounds ahead of their old system and very user friendly.
  9. nycrican2

    nycrican2 New Member

    I have used WebCT only as a student and found it very user friendly. Happy to hear truckie270 likes it's administrator interface better than Angel and Blackboard. Hopefully, my employer will try this CMS in the future.
  10. dlcurious

    dlcurious Member

    From what I recall of being an Excelsior student back in 2006 at that point they were using WebCT. Don't remember specifics but for me personally it was clunky... have always used Blackboard elsewhere and definitely prefer it. From the student perspective anyway.
  11. Dr.B

    Dr.B New Member

    Having used a number of commerical and proprietary LMS, my personal favorite is D2L. It is highly intuitive and has lots of bells and whistles, which one can use or not use as he or she sees fit. Although I don't use them all, I like having a wide range of components and possibilities available. It gives me quite a bit more freedom to evolve as designer and developer.

    Another school for which I work uses Angel and I find it not only counterintuitive, but, essentially, archaic. With a nod to Nicrican2, I agree that one shouldn't have to explain to students or train students how to retrieve a grade report, which I have to do also. I still don't understand the point of that. It should be, in my view, click on a tab or link and see the grade info.

    I also agree with Truckie270, some of the best are proprietary because, rather than generic, they are tailored to the needs of the school, students, and faculty and faculty usually has some imput on how they are developed and put together. Although exceptionally simple, Ellis has one of the best I've seen. Autosubmission upon upload of papers to Turnitin, all grading components for an item on a single page, and so on.
  12. Duces Tecum

    Duces Tecum New Member

    Don't forget the freeware and/or open source alternatives

    Freeware and/or open source LMS/LCMS systems should not be ignored. They're getting better and better; and one of these days one of them is going to release a version which either on its own, or when combined with another product (or with all that, plus a little customization) will blow the socks off Blackboard or any of the other fee-based, commercial products.

    Some of the freeware or open sources players, in no particular order, are:

    Of course, everyone knows about Moodle... it's the one everyone loves to hate. But one thing which can't be taken from it is that it ultimately works... albeit ugly. Many also say it rates only a 2 or 3 out of 10 on the usability scale. However, what many who've done the research say they've discovered (to their chagrin, it seems) is that, all things considered, Moodle ends-up being better, overall, than several of the above-listed alternatives. All that said, I, personally, would rather take a sharp stick in the eye than recommend Moodle unless there's just no other choice. It's the ugly-but-unignorably-functional player in the group.

    Also, were I creating a custom-programmed somethingoranother for a school, I think I'd look long and hard at Drupal Ed. But I'd only do so with the understanding that I'd have to take it from where it now is and really turn it into something, because right now it's kinda' buggy, and lacks certain course creation and management functions that even the worst of the other products listed here all have. So that's obviously a huge impediment. However, as we learned during the 2004 the Howard Dean presidential campaign, and the subsequent development of what was then known as "DeanSpace" into what is now known as Civic Space, the Drupal platform, while fundamentally flawed in seemingly no end of areas, is so nevertheless potent, just generally, that building an open source LMS upon it seems like an approach well worth considering. And since since reinvention of the wheel never much appealed to me, Drupal Ed seems like a logical place to start.

    One very interesting and impressive (for not only its accomplishment thus far, but also for its cooperative approach) project on which I'm keeping my eye is the African Virtual Open Initiatives and Resources (AVOIR)'s Chisimba. It already sports most of the features found in other freeware and open source (and even most commercial) LMS/LCMS systems, and it has a large and active development community, and is optimized for low bandwidth.

    For those who want to know more, two pages worth examining are, first, this one; and then this one.

    Ultimately, as with any piece of software of any type, unless the instructor bothers to truly learn how to use any LMS/LCMS system, and to then truly leverage whatever are its features, then pretty much any of them will (or at least can) suck from the student's perspective.
  13. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    I have had the opportunity to teach and administer Blackboard, WebCT, Desire2Learn and Angel (and have done a little work in Moodle). WebCT and D2L were both very good systems. Angel is far and away the best from an administrator point of view. Blackboard's grade book is quite good, but its other features (especially its administrative control panel) left much to be desired.

    Now that Blackboard owns both WebCT and Angel, those systems have lost out quite a bit from the support side. The latest version of Blackboard (9.1) has been built largely on the WebCT platform (the Blackboard platform was from the late 90s and was getting long in the tooth). Angel still does some things that the other programs do not, but we'll see whether Blackboard is successful in migrating some of the features of Angel to the next version of Blackboard (NG).

    I have noticed that the technical support for Angel has gotten worse since Blackboard took over and we are seeing programming errors in the product that we did not see before. Blackboard claimed that they were going to use Angel's customer support culture and model to improve Blackboard's, but I have not seen any indication that this is happening...pity.

    I don't expect much further development of the WebCT and Angel platforms--Blackboard has a vested interest in getting everyone to migrate to its core product. It does not want to continue to support five different LMS products. The latest version of Blackboard is pretty decent, D2L is a very viable alternative and Moodle and Sakai continue to improve through continuous development. Since Pearson now owns eCollege, that is another viable LMS choice.

    The best side to compare the current features of the different learning management system is WCET's Edutools: www.edutools.info

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