Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Quick Look at Coming Attractions

These were a few of the takeaways for me from the D2L session in Chicago. All of these are features for version 8.x, which means we have no idea when we might actually see them in production.

Internal email function: the first glance at this tool looked pretty good. It appears to be a combination of a true email client and an internal IMS tool, such as the internal "email" in WebCT, which of course wasn't really email, but it was a private communication device. From what I could see, it looks like real email in that you can send and receive messages to and from the world outside D2L. It also functions as internal email by placing class messages into a separate folder for each class. My biggest question is how well it will integrate with the various email clients in use at different campuses...or more to the point; will it integrate nicely with our employee GroupWise and student NetMail systems?

D2L is extending the Journal tool into a blogging tool. They didn't provide much in the way of details here, but it looks like a Journal entry can be kept private as is the case now, or that they can be made public and displayed in blog format. Also, it can be shown only to a group, or the whole class, to the whole institution, or the world, at least in theory. There might be more to it than that, but that was all that I gathered from the demo.

The "Learner Competencies" (I'm sure there is a fancier name for that) tool looks potentially powerful, but also somewhat confusing. My first impression is that this will have a steep learning curve. The idea is that you will be able to track students’ performances on a wide range of learning objectives/outcomes. My impression was that it could be used to track the completion of course outcomes (this is not necessarily the same as grades on assessments) but that it could also be used more globally such as tracking completion of our college-wide outcomes or program outcomes over the course of the student progression through the college. An interesting concept that may be ready for us before we are ready for it.

LiveRoom 4 is a synchronous tool similar to WebEx, Elluminate, and other tools that allow you to combine various media into a web interface. Voice, text, webpages, video, documents, etc. can all be coordinated through the LiveRoom interface. Since our students generally don’t want synchronous requirements due to the restrictions on their time and place management, I actually think that this might have more uses outside of e-learning courses with committees, meetings, online orientations, and the like. However, I’m not so sure that our licensing allows all of these extra uses.

Those were some of the highlights from the D2L session at the Higher Learning Commission annual meeting.


Firasat Khan said...

Will D2L 8.x will/will not support ePack export capability? This is a very critical issue that isn't readily obvious. Hope the answer is yes!

Barry Dahl said...

Hi Firasat,

By e-pack export, I assume you mean the course export tool, not something to do with publishers' e-packs.

I don't think I know this answer for sure. I have received mixed signals about it. It was supposed to be there, but I think I heard somewhere that the release of the export tool would be delayed. I'll try to get clarification on this point, no doubt many others are wondering the same thing. BD

Erik Riker-Coleman said...

You know, I've said this many times before, but the most annoying thing about D2L for me is the inability to interact directly with a full-thread message display in the Discussions tool. Having to either click through 15 messages individually, or use the "Print these" feature to display the expanded threads--which you can't then reply to directly--has been a source of much ire for me. It's the one thing I thought WebCT did better.

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