Friday, September 19, 2008

Creepy Treehouse III

Last post on creepy treehouses. I think that course management software falls into creepy treehousedom when it does two things:

1. keeps users from accessing applications from outside of its walls.
2. offers services that are so obviously more effective elsewhere.

I'll use some examples from my experience with three CMS's we've used at LCC.


In AltaVista Forum, one could chat with the CMS client, or with another client like mIRC. With both Blackboard and Angel, such is not possible. Furthermore, in both CMS's, chat has been clunky, dull (no actions as with MOOs or mIRC), and unreliable.


I don't recall AltaVista Forum having an email function. Both Blackboard and Angel do, and especially with Angel, the email sucks. It's like they never looked at how it's done anywhere else and are trying to reinvent the wheel. Furthermore, you can't email to Angel email; you can only send out from Angel email to Internet email.


You would think CMS's would be the most uncreepytreehouse with drop boxes, since they were integral to CMS's from the early days. However, in uploading files on Flickr, I've realized how clumsy they are. Angel's drop box function is much improved with that found in Blackboard. However, Angel's philosophy seems to be why use only one click when three will do? Consequently, getting anything done takes much longer than necessary and adds to that feeling of something being very wrong.

That's enough. I haven't tried the web 2.0ish features that Angel (and I'm sure Blackboard) has added in recent years such as blogs and wikis. However, from those I've talked to (or read on listservs), they aren't very good. It just seems that it would make a lot more sense to treat a CMS as a portal that offers things it does well at (or should do well at), such as a secure gradebook, and allow applications such as blogs, wikis, email, chat and such to be accessed through the common web page, like an aggregator does with widgets (more on these soon).

OK, enough creepiness!!!!

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