Another New Blackboard Competitor Arrives: Coursekit

Matt Crosslin, EduGeek Journal, Mar 17, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I've browsed around a bit in CourseKit, a learning management system coded by three students who were so fed up with Blackboard they decided to create their own, and I like what I see. A lot. They write, "We forgot everything we knew about what's out there to really bring the best solution to the classroom." The system looks it. It's not a traditional instructor-focused LMS. It's designed with the students' experience in mind. Some highlights:
- "Social is a big focus for us. Education benefits from discussion. Up until now, however, student interaction only happens within lectures, if even. We want to extend the class experience beyond lecture time."
- "Our calendar is robust but still simple. Each calendar item - lectures, exams, assignments - has content inside. There's a description of the item, relevant files, and comments, all in one calendar item."
- "We rethought what a syllabus looks like. It's ridiculous that most classes still have paper syllabi made in Microsoft Word. So we elegantly display all syllabus content with a quick way to jump from section to section. "
CourseKit is elegant and intelligently designed. It will probably stay that way until marketing, focus group facilitators and 'stakeholder meetings' have a crack at it. Tom Werner comments, "When college students design a site to support their learning, they make it like Facebook."
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