Thursday, January 31, 2013

Student Viewpoint

Our ‘Student Perspective’ blogger Demetrius Younger has been working diligently with his research and exploration of emerging technologies.  This week Demetrius offers two reviews on two different learning management systems—Desire2Learn and Blackboard.
For his first review, Demetrius was assigned the task of looking at Desire2Learn (D2L).  Included in Demetrius’ D2L review are his observations of the product.
Likewise, in his second review—he observes and examines what Blackboard has to offer with its latest upgrade (SP11), which is coming soon (May 17th to be precise) to SU. 

Notice: As referenced above, SU will be upgrading to Blackboard SP11 on the weekend of May 17th. Blackboard will be unavailable that weekend starting at 5pm on Friday, May 17th.  Users should not plan to use Blackboard at all on this reserved Bb upgrade weekend.  A notice will be posted on the Bb login page should the upgrade finish early. 

Desire2Learn – Review
By Demetrius Younger

I had a very pleasant experience using the Desire2Learn program. The very first thing I noticed was that the home page was definitely less crowded in terms of the amount of links and tabs they have. I do like the My Grades and Attendance part of Blackboard tools, a feature I was unable to find in the Desire2Learn program. The tool bar for Desire2Learn I found to be very direct and simple to use. The user can hit the "Select a Course" tab to gain access to the desired course they seek.  The course sections in desire2learn would allow students to better keep up with assignments and interact more easily with teachers. Blackboard's SP9 version can be confusing to navigate through, especially when it comes to turning in an assignment. On desire2learn the content, quizzes, and dropbox, where assignments can be submitted electronically, are clearly displayed in the top right corner on the courses home page. 

Desire2learn's editing of News and the WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) feature was probably my favorite feature to learn about. This portion of the program allows the teachers to post news or outside sources relevant to class in order to further educate their students outside of the classroom. Images, videos, games, and twitter feeds are all examples of things that can be uploaded to the news feed which is located under the "Insert Stuff" section in WYSIWYG. WYSIWYG is also very compatible with the Word application making documents easier to paste into the section. Everything the user needs to properly format their document is available, whether it be bolding print or inserting math symbols. If needed students may film themselves or a group which creates video notes for later review. Direct Integration with YouTube and Flickr will assist the teacher when she wants to show the class a video, and the students would benefit by simply being able to follow along with their instructor. 

Another thought I had that was not covered in either D2L or the current Bb program was an easier way to view the teachers information, such as room number, office number, office hours, and the title of the books needed for that course. I believe these should be displayed at the top of every individual courses home page. That being said desire2learn is definitely my preference between the two. The program is just much more user friendly and versatile than Blackboard SP9. Users can make the program centered around them instead of having to figure out the program.

Before delving into Demetrius’ Blackboard review, you may want to see ‘What’s New’…

Also, check out the Blackboard Student Help available on the Official Blackboard Help Site @

Note—Blackboard features portrayed on the Blackboard site may or may not be offered in the SU instance of Blackboard. 

 —And without further ado…

Blackboard SP11 Review
By Demetrius Younger

This new Blackboard solves all the student and faculty issues to me. It is very straightforward, even more so than Desire2Learn, and all vital things I mentioned in my review of D2L have been answered. The only thing I feel would benefit this site is the YouTube/Flickr integration, as well as the video tutorials, like the ones about filming and camera angles. 

Stay tuned to the Student Tech Blog for all the latest in SU technology and student technology topics—and be on the lookout for Demetrius’ next review. 

If you have any suggestions for student improvements or student changes for Blackboard, please contact Demetrius via email @

As always—your best resource for all things SU Blackboard is the SU Blackboard Support site @

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