I'm at a loss to know why Blackboard felt it necessary to include the bloat and confusion of two "separate" but overlapping blog tools in Bb9, but hey, it isn't my place to criticize Blackboard (oh, wait... ;-)
Similarly, the LO blog tool can be configured for individual or group use (although you have to go to two different places to configure the same tool in different ways):
So not confusing at all then! Let me move on and look at the capabilities of each of these tools - but before doing that, why am interested in any of this? I use blogging tools for students in two contexts:
- On a first year module with approximately 200 students as a reflective e-portfolio. Last year on this module we used a wiki e-portfolio format but this proved to be confusing for students, and the chronological structure of an (individual/journal) blog framework may be better than the more free-form wiki architecture in encouraging archiving and retrieval of reflective thoughts. We also use a course blog to allow students to submit assessments which take place in distributed services, e.g. the URL of their delicious bookmarks or Google Reader Shared Items, where we want these resources to be shared across the module.
- On a third year module for approximately 25 students as a means for these students to demonstrate their engagement with and understanding of the subject matter (virology).
For the last two years I've used the LO blog tool for both of these modules. But each time, I've wavered over whether to use these VLE tools or use Wordpress.com, then chickened out at the last moment and used the (closed) institutional tool. And each time I've regretted it. Why? Look at the functionality that WordPress offers:
- Individual or group blog, public or private (free for up to 35 users, $30 per year for unlimited private users)
- RSS everywhere (blog, comments, single page feeds)
- Lots of useful sidebar widgets
- Tagging for retrieval, revision and marking of content - missing in both the Bb and LO tools.
- Student-controlled blogs which remain available after the module has finished - the only sensible solution for a reflective e-portfolio.