Is there a Good Alternative to Blackboard (CE or Vista)?

Get set for some stimulating posting and commenting… I have permission from Bruce Mckee of North Iowa Area Community College to begin what I hope will be an open and gentlemanly conversation on the merits of various course management systems, as well as potential pitfalls when switching from one to another.

Bruce didn’t intend to start anything. He simply sent a farewell message to the webct-users list, a place he’d dialogued for over 10 years and collected over 12,000 emails, when his institution moved to another CMS.

The rest of us on this list began asking questions of each other and the no-longer listening Bruce…

Let’s continue that discussion here. Perhaps in a public forum, others with quite differing opinions will participate? I sent Bruce, in private email, Kevin Lowey’s (University of Saskatchewan) questions for Bruce and will post Bruce’s responses over the next several days. Chime in the rest of you, as you please. You’ll see in the lower right of this page there are now direct links to the most recent blog comments.

Kevin’s question: “Why did you decide to switch?”

Bruce: “We have been using WebCT since V1.2 in 1997 up to V4.1CE in 2007. We liked WebCT. I have nothing but good things to say about the old WebCT company – the product development and support teams were very responsive to customers and the pricing was very affordable for a small college (3,200 students). When required to upgrade to CE6 (or whatever they call it now) we needed to purchase all new server hardware, the cost of licensing went up to four-times what we had been paying and we were going to need a DBA to help support the product.  We decided to evaluate other systems and asked for formal presentations from Blackboard/WebCT on CE6 and looked at eCollege and ANGEL (always capitalized – I don’t know why). We also briefly evaluated Moodle.”

Any others out there who are ‘Switchers’ or contemplating switching?