Sick of Blackboard? You’re not alone!
Although Blackboard dominates the majority of the market for learning management systems (LMS), students and faculty are less than enthusiastic about its endless list of bugs and crashes (in fact, Blackboard receives a 93% ‘hate’ rating on the social media analytics website, Amplicate).
But there is hope! Coursekit, a learning management system built by students out of the University of Pennsylvania, looks and works a lot more like the social media platforms people typically use in their spare time. Since its launch this fall, Coursekit has been described as a, “cleaner-looking Facebook news feed, centered on a single academic theme, or a group Tumblr blog where each picture, question, or video can accumulate its own discussion in the attached comment thread”. Coursekit designers opted to go directly to the instructors rather than market to campuses as a whole, and beta-testing of the new system was piloted by professors at 30 campuses this semester (you can check our 4 cool case studies here) and have 80 student ambassadors hired to introduce the new LMS to students at colleges across the country.
Key features in Coursekit include a calendar, syllabi, grading tool, paper and assignment collecting tool and a “class wall” where students can post comments and hold discussion. Any instructor in the world can use the program for free, and one of the founders, Joseph Cohen, has said that one of the most interesting parts about his new LMS is that Coursekit transforms the class experience from something that happens twice a week for an hour, into this community of continuous conversation that greatly increases student interaction.
Today many students form their own class pages on Facebook where classmates can ask questions or post relevant information, and Coursekit has incorporated that feature into their LMS, finding an appropriate balance between social networking and course management. As the semester is finishing up and Coursekit feedback is being gathered one student has said of Coursekit, “It basically does everything that Blackboard is meant to do, but in a better, more accessible way”.
Now that actually sounds like something worth looking forward to, and Coursekit is one of several new challengers to Blackboard so be on the lookout for major changes to the way courses are managed online in the near future!
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