Friday, May 19, 2006

Viewing D2L Version 8

At the Minnesota e-Learning Summit I spent about 40 minutes with Stephan Meyer of D2L taking a look at the inside of D2L version 8. I've blogged previously about his presentation at the Higher Learning Commission meeting where he talked about version 8 tools, but he didn't show a live demo at that meeting.

He showed me the following:
  1. Course export tool (yes, it really does exist)
  2. Competencies tool
  3. LiveRoom (much much more than a chat room)
  4. Learning Object Respository with advanced metadata
  5. Reporting tool (much further developed, allowing granular reporting)
  6. Blog tool (but no wiki)
  7. New copy component tool (much more powerful)
  8. Search tool integrated into most of the tools
  9. Redesigned (and improved) HTML editor (and works with Firefox!!)
  10. Improved survey tool (you can actually export your data - finally!!)
One of the biggest fears that users have about the new version is what will happen to the user interface. The answer is almost nothing. Almost all of the changes are in new tools, improved tools, and especially the underlying architecture that makes the program (in theory, and I hope, in reality) peform better. The user interface looks basically the same.

The LiveRoom tool looks very functional for those who want to employ a synchronous tool. Very much like a WebEx experience if you are familiar with that. It is java based. It allows you to bring in content from the course, from your computer (PPT, for example), from the web....mark it up, let students mark it up, it has an equation editor, allows you to archive the session, you can allow a student to run the show, or set one up only for a group of students to use as they like. For those of you in MnSCU, you need to know that this tool is not included in our core contract. If we are going to have access to it we are going to have to pay for it, so we'll see how that goes.

I'll post additional entries over the next few days with more information about some of the other tools.

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