Blackboard Collaborate: an LMS gone astray

Normally Blackboard Collaborate wouldn’t have made it into our ranking. The vendor fails to deliver one element we see as crucial: making pricing information openly and easily accessible. Even searching the Blackboard website for quite some time left us none the wiser in that regard. Now there are two reasons we decided to test and rank Blackboard Collaborate after all:
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Web conferencing vs. virtual classroom solutions

This morning, a Canadian visitor of our test portal made us aware of a gap in our evaluation of online meeting solutions:

I noticed online training in your Applications sidebar, but you evaluated the WebEx Meeting Centre. WebEx Training Centre provides enhanced functionality specifically designed for training. Have you evaluated this product against competitors in that field?

Since webconferencing-test.com is a non-profit initiative we only have limited time to spend on reviewing different solutions. Unfortunately this means that we are not able to add a new branch to our website by testing special-purpose online meeting solutions for classroom-like online trainings. We’ve got our hands full with keeping our ranking up-to-date and comprehensive as is.

But of course we do have something to say on the topic:

The biggest challenge to evaluating web conferencing solutions tailored to classroom, training, and online exam requirements is the intransparency of this niche market. This market includes vendors like WebEx (Training Centre) and Citrix Online with GoToTraining, who extended their underlying web conferencing technology to serve online training purposes. Others like Saba and Elluminate provide a blended web conferencing / eLearning solution – and there are dozens of vendors delivering solutions dedicated solely to virtual classroom scenarios, like Learning Management Systems (LMS), Skytap, eLecta and GC Learning Services.

Elluminate vOffice replaces vRoom

We have taken Elluminate vRoom out of our ranking and replaced the tool with Elluminate’s vOffice. vOffice is an interesting web conferencing solution since it originated from an eLearning environment. The tool offers a good solution for virtual team work but has its downsides, e.g. too many features which make usability awkward.

Read the full evaluation.