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Tuesday, January 15, 20081200418345

Blackboard is awful

The University of Nebraska - Lincoln uses "Blackboard" as its course-management software. This hurts students. Blackboard temporarily freezes both Internet Explorer and Firefox on my XP laptop -- a trick which no other website I visit does.

I don't think I would be able to write a piece of web software as awful as blackboard. It's clear that the designers of blackboard faced several instances of the question -- do we do this the usable way or the way that lets us say we implemented Java or some other hip technology -- and they went with the high-tech, gizmo-rich solution.

Too bad. Students and faculty of UNL pay for Blackboard's lousy coding in time, energy, and frustration.

11:32 Posted in Software, UNL | Permalink | Comments (6) | Tags: Blackboard, java, usability


hmmmm...very interesting!
Thanks google

Posted by: Symn | Tuesday, January 15, 2008

So does GWU. I just don't use it and direct my students to an alternative means of comms.

Posted by: Michael | Tuesday, January 15, 2008

One day soon, I'm going to disagree with something you say, but not today.

I agree completely. We need more competition in this field. Unfortunately, the smartest programmers are working for Google and Facebook, not companies like Blackboard.

I hear a web 2.0 beta coming!? If we could only be so lucky.

Posted by: David Hallowell | Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The sad thing is there's no need for Web 2.0 to make blackboard work -- they could have used Web 1.0. POST and GET commands for sending information to and from the user are part of the original HTTP protocol -- instead. Blackboard uses Java because, I guess

a) their marketing guys can say "Java"
b) "Java" is cooler than POST and GET
c) this provides better job security for whoever designed it, as Java is harder to work with than POST and GET

It will be interesting to see whether Google and Facebook comes up with a blackboard killer almost accidentally, in the same way that gmail ended up killing xdrive and relatedly companies as a by-product.


It's really sad, because class groupwork is a valid area where software can help -- but instead we get this nonsense.


Crypitc... but thanks!

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, January 16, 2008

You are using Blackboard? My sympathies. I only use the gradebook function (as a backup) becasue it allows students to check their status without bothering me. Other than that--and I'm sure I could do it without Blackboard, but the administration here keeps pushing the damn thing and I don't want to take the trouble to set up something better--I leave it alone. The class management options are a nightmare.

Around here, Blackboard is symptomatic of a larger problem: too many people are enamoured of gadgets, and too few have any idea what works. One recent IT director was particularly incompetent. He/She is gone from the campus now--promoted to administer IT for the state.

I've tried using Facebook, and it's not all bad. However, it can be a temptation for students to move from classwork to messaging friends. Coaches here have prohibited any players from connecting to Facebook, in the interests of keeping them off academic probation.

Posted by: Dan McIntosh | Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I spent much of the morning fighting both blackboard and Netlibrary [1], another online resource that UNL pours money into.


[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2008/01/31/howto-batch-download-a-book-in-pdf-pages-from-netlibrary.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, January 31, 2008