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       Ratings and Details for

              Blackboard 5 (by BlackBoard)
              LearningSpace 4.0 (by Lotus)
              WebCT 3.6 (by WebCT)

       Blackboard 5                                              LearningSpace 4.0                           WebCT 3.6

       Strong points                                             Strong points                               Strong points
       Does not lack essential functions.
                                                                       powerful and scalable                      Powerful management of resources
              Simple to use interface                                  environment                                 (html pages, images, audio files, ...).
              Strong built-in synchronous communication:              includes complete synchronous              Impressive collection of useful
               the Java applet "Virtual Classroom" includes             communication tool suite                    preprogrammed tools.
               a shared whiteboard, chat and slide                      (collaboration server)                     Strong communication features.
               presentations.                                          cheap for universities                     Flexible and powerful management
              Good teamwork support.                                  detailed tracking and reporting             of student files / student grades.
              Differentiated access rights and user roles              functions
              Powerful spreadsheet-like management of                 interoperability                     Weak points
               student's grades
                                                                 Weak points                                       relatively slow response times in the
       Weak points                                                                                                  authoring environment
                                                                       for students only fully functional         complex - sometimes clumsy - user
              Very limited customizability of user interface;          on windows platforms                        interface for author (due to complex
              Student can only make "global" annotations              limited number and functionality            functionality and detailed
               for a whole course.                                      of student tools compared to
           Very limited hypertext features.                         other systems                             parameters)
           No search function.                                     serious hardware and software
                                                                     requirements on server side
                                                                    server supports only Intel/NT

    Student's Environment

Access to course
material                                            Blackboard                LearningSpace                                  WebCT

Keyword search

The tool has a built-in full-text search
engine, which allows to find keywords
                                           not available               not available (course content is not   Fully supported
                                                                       stored in the system)                  Different components can be searched
                                                                                                              selectively: course content, content
          in the course material and
                                                                                                              module table of contents, headings in
          in the private annotations of
                                                                                                              content pages, and discussion articles
           the student.

                                                                                                                                     Screenshot [Ref:5]
very important feature

Searchable image archive

The tool provides an image archive. It
can be searched with a keyword search
                                           not available               not available                                Multiple image databases (e.g.
engine.                                                                                                              for different parts of the
                                                                                                                     course) can be included
not an important feature                                                                                            Images have to be uploaded
                                                                                                                     individually, which is tedious
                                                                                                                     for a large database

                                                                                                                                     Screenshot [Ref:8]
Course download / off-line
                                             no particular support                       Not supported - student must be        Not supported
The entire course or parts of it can be
downloaded to a local client. The
                                                                                         online to enter a course. However,
student can work locally. If he/she                                                      (parts of) the course content pages                                         [Ref:1]
reconnects, the changes are                                                              can easily be put on a CD-ROM.
automatically synchronized or
replicated. All important platforms
(Win,Mac,Unix) should be supported.
The advantages of this are:

          shorter time for a client to be
           online, and hence lower
           connection costs
          quicker access, once the
           content is downloaded

important feature

Course can be printed

The entire course or parts of it can be
downloaded in a printer friendls
                                             no particular support for this              no specific support for printing of    Printing supported. Student can check
version. This might be important for                                                     course material                        chapters/sections, which are then
students, who prefer reading on paper                                         [Ref:10]                                          compiled to a single HTML page.
instead of computer screens. It is also
useful for a student to keep a printed
                                                                                                                                The student's annotations are not
archive of a course after he/she has                                                                                            printed (can only be printed
completed it. In that case, personal                                                                                            seperately).
annotations should also be printed.

                                                                                                                                                       Screenshot [Ref:8,11]
important feature

CD-ROM support

The entire course or parts of it can be
distributed on a CD-ROM. The access
                                             Documents stored on a CD-ROM                CD-ROM content can easily be            The CD-ROM feature essentially
via the Web interface remains                can be loaded from within the               integrated (the course content pages enables quick access to large content
                                             Blackboard environment (this is             are not directly part of the LS system, files (images, audio, video) that would
transparent. This is important if:         called "offline content"). The CD- but links to external resources)         take too long to download with a low
                                           ROM drive letter can be manually                                            bandwidth connection (e.g. 56K
          Parts of the course are         set by the student (defaults to D:                                          modem). However, the student has still
           copyright protected and         on Windows).                                                                to be online.
           cannot be published via the
          Parts of the course consist                                                                                                     Screenshot [Ref:1,8,11]
           of huge data quantities (i.e.
           high resolution images) that
           cannot be downloaded via a
           telephone line

important feature

Ergonomic user interface

The student's user interface should be
intuitive and easy to use.
                                           Courses have a a consistent look- intuitive UI                              Courses have a consistent
                                           and-feel.                                                                   interface/look-and-feel.
                                           Navigation is sometimes                                        Screenshot
very important feature
                                           complicated because the "back"                                                                    Screenshot [Ref:2,8]
                                           button of the browser doesn't
                                           always work.
                                           There are no next-page / previous-
                                           page navigation buttons
                                           The names of Individual
                                           documents appear in the "Course
                                           map" tool, but they cannot be
                                           clicked (only chapters heading
                                           have links).


Private space and
customization                                       Blackboard                        LearningSpace                                  WebCT
Student can make private
annotations of course
material                                 The "Electric Blackboard" allows not soupported                                   Any page can be annotated with raw
                                         users to save notes for a particular                                              (unformatted) text (HTML can also be
The student can make annotations to
parts of the course, which are only
                                         course within the Blackboard 5                                                    used, but at the student's own risk, as
visible to him/herself.                  environment.                                                                      errors may jeopardize the page
very important feature                   Limitations:                                                                      Annotations are not displayed together
                                                                                                                           with the page content, and it is not
                                                Only one note is available,                                               directly visible, whether a specific page
                                                 where students must enter                                                 has annotations or not (one click is
                                                 all their                                                                 needed).
                                                Notes cannot be attached                                                                       Screenshot [Ref:1.8,11]

                                                 to individual pages.


Student can make
                                         It is difficult to make bookmarks,      LS's frame state cn't be bookmarked. Bookmark tool available. Student also
Student can make bookmarks of course
                                         because the presentation is             Browser bookmarks don't work. No     has a private bookmark section in
The system should allow common           always frame based.                     internal favourites list available.  myWebCT.
browser bookmarks and additionally       However, single pages/frames can        However, bookmarks to content
internal bookmarks.
Browser bookmarks (URL) can be
                                         be bookmarked by copying the            pages are possible.                                                 [Ref:8,11]
exchanged beteen students, i.e. by       page url to a bookmark entry.
email.                                   Navigation buttons won't be                                             [Ref:8]
                                         displayed in that case.
very important feature

Individual choice of
learning sequence
                                         The student has a single,               .                                         Student can jump to any document in a
The student can customize the learning
sequence, depending on his/her
                                         hierarchical view of the course
preferences, previous knowledge and          content. The content can be freely                                                 table of contents.
educational background.
                                             adressed in this hierarchy.

important feature                                                        [Ref:8,10]

Resume learning session

The student can interrupt a learning
session at any time. He/She can
                                             not supported                            not available. However, student sees      When the student returns to a course,
resume it at the same location where                                                  a graphical indicator for each course     WebCT can place him/her back at the
the interruption occured.                                                 [Ref:10]    or resource whether it has been           same position and in the same context
                                                                                      completed, partly completed or not        he/she was in the previous learning
very important feature                                                                yet visited.                              session.


Calendar tool

Calendar tool
                                             Calendar for institution, course         not available                             Available
                                             and personal events.                                                               Starting with version 3.6, students have
important feature                            Course specific calendar (set up                                         [Ref:1]   a centralized calendar, enabling them
                                             by instructor) for items like:                                                     to view a single calendar with
                                             meetings, exams, etc.                                                              information for all their WebCT
                                             Student has also private section.                                                  courses.

                                                                          [Ref:10]                                                                      Screenshot [Ref:1]

Student presentation area

The student can present himself/herself
to his/her fellow students. This is useful
                                             Each student can create his own          not available                             Students can create their own
to show the social context for the           homepage, where he can upload                                                      homepage.
student.                                     his/her image, write a short intro                                       [Ref:1]   The instructor can allow groups of
                                             message and personal                                                               students to create presentations. The
important feature                            information, and publish 3                                                         students then have their own
                                             favourite links.                                                                   presentation space, where they can
                                                                       [Ref:10]                                             upload and manage a set of files.

                                                                                                                                               Screenshot [Ref:1,2,8,11]

Customization of "look and
                                           very limited (change of navigation not available                                 Student can select the language for the
Customization of "look and feel"
                                           button color and shape).                                                         course interface (but only if the
                                                                                                                            corresponding tool was added by the
not an important feature                                             [Ref:10,8]                                             course author).


Username and password
                                           Supported.                             Same username and password for            Using "myWebCT" allows students to
All personal data (annotations, quizz
results etc.) is protected at least by a
                                                                                  multiple courses.                         access multiple courses with a single
username and a password.                                               [Ref:10]                                             global ID. (myWebCT is a central
Enrollment to multiple courses with a
                                                                                  Since all content pages are external      location where students see a list of
single username/password is desired.
                                                                                  to the system, their access can't         courses in which they are registered).
                                                                                  easily be protected by
very important feature                                                                                                                                      [Ref:1,8,11]


communication                                      Blackboard                            LearningSpace                                    WebCT

one-to-one email

The environment integrates the
communication between two persons
                                           Regular email can be sent through                                                Web based (internal) email. No regular
using regular email (either with web-      web based forms, and can include                                               email account required. Supports
interface or using an external email
client). Alternatively, internal (local)   attachments. Students need a     email                                         attachments, automatic forwarding to a
messaging is supported (student does       regular email address.                                                         "regular" email address, replying and
not need an email address).                                                                                               replying with quoted message.
                                                                      [Ref:2,10]                                          Messages can be organized in folders
very important feature
                                                                                                                                              Screenshot [Ref:1,2,5,8]

one-to-many email

The learning environment integrates
the communication between a person
                                           Comfortable interface to send web email                                        Fully functional web based email.
and a group of persons via email.          based (regular) email to all users,                                            Special support to send messages to
Flexible mail list (like persons in the    to all groups, to instructors, to                                    [Ref:1]   groups available.
same class or working group) should
be supported.
                                           teaching assistants, to self defined
                                           groups, to instructor defined                                                                                 [Ref:1,2,8,11]
                                           working groups.
very important feature


Discussion forums

The learning environment integrates
the communication within a group of
                                           Web based forums ("discussion           Web based forum included               The async conferencing tool (called
persons as a discussion forum. A post      boards"). Forums are created by                                                "discussions") is multi-fora, threaded,
of a person to a forum is automatcally     instructor. The interface is intuitive.                                        and searchable.
visible to all members of it.
                                           - Message can be ASCII or HTML                                                 Postings can have file attachments.
                                           - Student can create new threads.                                              Student can create own discussion
very important feature                     - Messages can have                                                            topic.
                                           attachments. (Bug: attachments                                                 A set of postings can be compiled to a
                                           are lost, if message is previewed                                              single file for futher processing.
                                           before sending)                                                                Private subtopics can be created for
                                           - Messages can be sorted by                                                    students groups
                                           author, date, subject.
                                           - Forum content is searchable.                                                 Many views, tools and customisation
                                           - Forum content can be archived.                                               options are available.

                                                                      [Ref:2,10]                                                             Screenshot [Ref:1,2,8,11]
Teamwork tools

The learning environment provides
teamwork mechanisms. See also
                                         Groups can have private file            collaboration module (virtual      Groups of students can be created
teamworking features from the teachers   exchange areas (drop boxes),            classroom) can be used by smaller  (also automatically, at random).
point of view.                           virtual classrooms, email and           groups.                            Groups can create their own
                                         forums.                                                                    presentations and have private
important feature                                                                asynchronous teamwork is supported discussion forums.
                                                                    [Ref:2,10]   by discussion forum

                                                                                 no shared workspaces or other
                                                                                 groupware tools are included.

communication                                     Blackboard                            LearningSpace                             WebCT


A zone, where students instantly
exchange text messages. The
                                         Integrated, applet based           part of collaboration module             Supported (Java applet).
chatroom is visible to a group of        synchronous communications tool                                             Enables chat within same course, or
students.                                "Tutornet virtual classroom". It                               Screenshot   outside course to any course on same
                                         includes:                                                                   server. Chat conversations can be
important feature                        - Chatroom                                                                  saved and read by instructors.
                                         - Shared whiteboard
                                         - Participant information panel                                                                  Screenshot [Ref:1,2]
                                         - Slide panel. The slide panel can
                                         be used by the instructor to make
                                         synchronous slide presentations.
                                         Slides are just URL's.
                                        - The virtual classroom can be
                                        monitored by the instructor (he can
                                        grant/refuse access of a student to
                                        virtual classroom activities)
                                        - Archive section (see questions,
                                        answers etc. of previous sessions)


Shared whiteboard

Whiteboard facility includes a window
that supports shared drawing. The
                                        Fully supported (See "chatroom")        a shared whiteboard is not available, Supported (Java applet)
whiteboard is visible to a group of                                             but LS offers more generally
students.                                                          [Ref:2,10]   application sharing as part of the        can display an image on the
                                                                                collaboration module                         screens of all users who are
not an important feature                                                                                                     logged on to a whiteboard
                                                                                                                          users can save the image
                                                                                                                             displayed on the whiteboard
                                                                                                                             for future use
                                                                                                                          instructors and students can
                                                                                                                             upload images which can then
                                                                                                                             be used in whiteboard

                                                                                                                                           Screenshot [Ref:1]


Includes broadcasting of audio data.
                                        not integrated                          part of collaboration module (requires Not native
                                                                                MS netmeeting)
not an important feature                                            [Ref:10]                                                                          [Ref:2]

Includes broadcasting of video data.       not integrated                        part of collaboration module (requires Not native
                                                                                 MS netmeeting)
not an important feature                                              [Ref:10]                                                                                [Ref:2]

Pedagogical tools                                   Blackboard                          LearningSpace                                  WebCT

Progress tracking

Progress tracking includes some facility
for a student to compare his learning
                                           Student can view his/her grades if personal progress tracking. Student Personal progress tracking and
progress with the learning objectives or   access is granted by instructor.   can't compare with progress of fellow comparison with group ("my progress"
with other students.                                                          students.                             and "my grades" tools)
important feature                                                                                           Screenshot   Student can generate detailed quizz
                                                                                                                         statistics and reports.

                                                                                                                                              Screenshot [Ref:1,8,11]

    Author's Environment

Production of
course material                                     Blackboard                          LearningSpace                                  WebCT

No technical knowledge
required to develop course
material                                 The environment provides simple                                                 Content is created with external editors
                                         to use editors to write course          Authors have to know file format for    (text, HTML, graphics, etc.), and
The course author should not be forced
to learn or know about technical details
                                         content, staff presentation,                                                    uploaded into WebCT (copy-paste can
of HTML or other formats.                 announcements, course                  quizz import                        also be used for editing HTML
                                          informations etc. It also provides a                                       documents).
important feature                         "Smart text" mode to include links                               [Ref:1]
                                          in a document. Adding more                                                                                 [Ref:1,8,11]
                                          sophisticated content (images,
                                          lists, text attributes, etc.) requires
                                          HTML knowledge or an HTML


Online HTML editor
                                          Only supports "smart" translation HTML-source code can be edited           A built in, web based content editor, is
The system includes an online HTML
editor with a web-interface.
                                          of raw ASCII to paragraphs, and    online                                  available, but only for creating so-
                                          automatic translation of URLs into                                         called "organizer" pages (these are a
This is not an important feature
                                          links.                                                         [Ref:1]     kind of table of contents, which can
because a specialized external HTML                                                                                  contain links to other WebCT tools).
authoring tool will usually do a better                                 [Ref:10]                                     It allows the creation of formatted text
job. However, the system should well
integrate to a wide range of existing
                                                                                                                     pages (text attributes: alignment, color,
HTML authoring tools.                                                                                                size, bold, underlined, italic) including
                                                                                                                     images without any knowledge of
not an important feature                                                                                             HTML.
                                                                                                                     Special characters (i.e. accented) are
                                                                                                                     not translated to ISO-latin/8859


Formula editor included

The system includes an editor for
chemical, mathematical etc formulas.
                                          not included                             not available                     Not available

                                                                        [Ref:10]                           [Ref:1]                                        [Ref:1]
This is not an important feature
because a specialized external formula
editor will certainly do a better job.
However, the system should well
integrate existing formula editors.

not an important feature

Import / convert existing
                                         HTML file upload is cumbersome                                                  Existing HTML pages including images
The system offers support to convert
existing course material in HTML or
                                         and has bugs/problems:                  Quizz data can be imported using a      can be uploaded individually or at once
ASCII format or in word processor                                                proprietary text file format            in a zip archive. Relative links between
formats like Word, WordPerfect, LaTeX
                                                There is no difference                                                  documents are preserved.
                                                 between "Display media                                        [Ref:1]
Most important is support to integrate
existing HTML documents. Links                   within page" and "Create                                                Several IMS standards for
between HTML documents must not be
destroyed. Upload of a set of
                                                 link".                                                                  import/export of data are supported
documents and images in one step is             Links between 2 uploaded                                                (see "Standards" below).
desired.                                         pages are destroyed.
                                                The same images refered                                                                                   [Ref:1]
very important feature                           to by multiple pages, have
                                                 to be uploaded multiple

                                         The above problems can be
                                         circumvented by uploading a set of
                                         pages/images in a file archive (zip
                                         or tar). Links between documents
                                         from different archives are not
                                         possible. Uploaded files can't be
                                         modified or edited individually.
                                         System uses standard database
                                         accessible through SQL.
                                         Quizz data can be imported and


Author can make personal
The author can make annotations to         not supported                           Some resources have a keyword         Author can attach anything as resource
the course material which are visible
and accessible only to herself/himself.                                            field. Fully private comments are not (see resource manager)
                                                                      [Ref:8,10]   supported
important feature

Multiple authors support

The system supports multiple authors
for one course. This includes features
                                           The system allows multiple              System supports check-in and check-   Multiple authors can edit the course
like locking parts of a course, personal   authors with different access           out locking of (parts of) courses.    contents but no resource locking is
annotations for each author etc.           rights. There are no private            Multiple authors can develop a        supported (i.e. concurrent access is at
                                           content sections, that can only be      course.                               the authors' risk!).
very important feature                     edited by one author.                   No centralized management of
                                                                                   content available.

Index creation support

The tool supports the creation of a
course index
                                           Not supported                           not supported                         Contains a complete index editor which
                                                                                                                         can link to individual contant pages.
                                                                      [Ref:8,10]                                         Supports also index subentries
important feature

                                                                                                                                              Screenshot [Ref:6,8,11]

Glossary support

The tool supports the creation of a
course glossary
                                           Not supported                           not supported                         Contains a complete glossary editor.

important feature
                                                                      [Ref:8,10]                                                glossary is searchable
                                                                                                                                can contain text or images
                                                                                                                                keywords in course content
                                                                                                                                 can be linked to glossary
                                                                                                                       glossary can be imported and
                                                                                                                        exported as raw ASCII file

                                                                                                                                     Screenshot [Ref:6,8,11]

Web interface for course
                                   Course can be developed and             Web based course administration.     Includes management of resources,
The course can be developed and
maintained with an ergonomic web
                                   maintained with web interface.          Web based course structure editor.   organization and presentation of
interface.                         There is no support to create or                                             course, navigation and creation of
                                   maintain links between pages.                                                simple content.
very important feature             Identical images (i.e. navigation
                                   bars or headers) have to be                                                  Once a content page is uploaded, it
                                   uploaded again when they are                                                 can either be overwritten by a new
                                   reused -> changing the original                                              page or its source code can directly be
                                   image only changes the image in                                              edited.
                                   one single page!
                                                                                                                Numerous tools (color picker, image
                                                                                                                manager, icon layout editor, access
                                                                                                                counters, ...) are functional and simple
                                                                                                                to use.
                                                                                                                However, due to the complex functions
                                                                                                                and the large number of settings, the
                                                                                                                user interface is quite complex at times
                                                                                                                (but this is a natural limitation of
                                                                                                                HTML/JavaScript web-based
                                                                                                                Context sensitive help is available.
                                                                                                                Overall navigation through tools and
                                                                                                                functions requires some experience.
                                                                                                                Depending on server speed, there can
                                                                                                                be a delay from the time a button is
                                                                                                                clicked until a new page is displayed
                                                                                                                (designer only)
Offline course development
                                           Not supported                         course content is created with             Third party tool Respondus can be
The course can be developed and
maintained with an ergonomic offline
                                                                                 external tools on local machine            used to develop quizzes offline.
interface (a local application that runs                               [Ref:8]
on all important platforms).

important feature

management                                         Blackboard                           LearningSpace                                       WebCT

Version manager

Version manager
                                           Metadata option offers simple         Every resource has a version field.        Not available
                                           version management.
important feature                                                                                            Screenshot                                        [Ref:11]

Course structure editor /
                                           A course is structured in content Online editor to design course                 Course can be created as a series of
Editor for course structure.
Learning modules and other resources
                                           items (text pages) and folders.   structure                                      modules, which can be linked together
can be managed and arranged in a           They can be freely moved around.                                                 (e.g. using organizer pages).
flexible way.                                                                                          Screenshot [Ref:1]   Various presentational (navigation
                                                                      [Ref:10]                                              buttons, icons, sizes, background
important feature                                                                                                           colors, ...) and logical properties
                                                                                                                            (course hierarchy, numbering, ...) can
                                                                                                                            be adapted.

                                                                                                                                                Screenshot [Ref:1,8,11]
Curriculum manager
(learning objectives)
                                        No specific feature for learning        Learning objectives available as        Course objectives can be defined in
Curriculum manager (learning
                                        objectives. General course              special resource. The author can        the syllabus tool, but they are
                                        informations has to be used for         define as many objectives as            independent of the course content (i.e.
                                        this purpose (not integrated with       needed.                                 they only serve as information, and are
very important feature
                                        course structure manager).                                                      not used to define a learning path).
                                                                     [Ref:10]                                           WebCT also has a "Goal Editor" to
                                                                                                                        summarize the content and set the
                                                                                                                        learning objectives for the current


Flexible resource pool

Manager and database for the
resources (documents, images, URL's
                                        Manager for "external links".           The resources (content) is not          Powerful general hierarchical file
etc.) for the course developer or the   These are resources (URL's),            managed or stored in the system. It     manager (web based). Special support
student.                                which are related to the course.        must be managed offline.                for html, image, audio and video files
                                                                                                                        (i.e. quick preview).
important feature                                                    [Ref:10]
                                                                                                                               Upload, zip, and zip of zip-
                                                                                                                                archives supported
                                                                                                                               File manager initially contains
                                                                                                                                a couple of WebCT built-in

                                                                                                                        Contains a resource manager
                                                                                                                        (resource bank). Supported resource
                                                                                                                        types are books, articles and URLs.
                                                                                                                        Content pages can contain a list of
                                                                                                                        pointers to resources from the resource

                                                                                                                                        Screenshot [Ref:8,11]

Quizzing features                            Blackboard                        LearningSpace                                    WebCT

No HTML knowledge
required to develop quizzes
                                    Simple text questions can be                                        [Ref:1]   Questions can be entered in two
No HTML knowledge required to
develop quizzes
                                    created with integrated editor.                                               formats: plain text or HTML (requires
                                    Special text attributes and                                                   HTML knowledge, or copy-paste from
                                    formatting require HTML                                                       an external HTML editor). An image
important feature
                                    knowledge, however.                                                           can also easily be added to each
                                    All quizz questions fields accept                                             question.
                                    HTML code

Quiz editor/manager
                                    The system includes an            Web interface to create and manage          Includes quizz/self-test editor and
The system includes an editor for
quizzes as well as a manager to
                                    assesment manager to create       quizzes                                     manager for a built-in questions
organize the questions in a pool.   quizzes and surveys, and a pool                                               database.
                                    manager to store and reuse                              Screenshot [Ref:1]    Supports upload of questions in a raw
important feature                   standard questions (assessments                                               ASCII format (format in explained in
                                    can use a random set of questions                                             WebCT online help).
                                    from the pool).
                                    Question pools can be imported,                                               With the powerful third party editor
                                    exported and searched for                                                     Respondus (available for windows
                                    keywords.                                                                     platforms only) , authors can create
                                                                                                                  quizzes offline and import them into
                                    Quizzes are accessible in the                                                 WebCT.
                                    assessment section - they can't be
                                    mixed/integrated with the course                                                                  Screenshot [Ref:1,8,11]


Multiple choice questions

The student has to click on the correct
answer to a question.
                                           Includes also :                    single or multiple correct answer           Available, also multiple correct
                                           multiple correct answer questions. questions supported                         answers. Optional cumulative and
                                           special case True/False questions.                                             negative scoring and weighted correct
very important feature
                                           ordering questions.                                               [Ref:1,4]    answers.

                                                                      [Ref:4,10]                                                                       [Ref:1,8,11]

Multiple image choice
                                           Any media-file can be uploaded as not native                                   Fully supported.
The system asks a question and shows
a set of images as possible answers.
                                           question or answer.
To answer to the question, the student                                                                          [Ref:5]                                     [Ref:5]
has to click on the correct image.                                      [Ref:10]

important feature

Image map questions

The system asks a question and shows
an image.
                                           not available                           not native                             Not available
To answer to the question, the student
has to click on the correct part/area of                                [Ref:10]                                                                          [Ref:11]
the image.

important feature

List matching questions

Student has to match pairwise the
entries of two lists.

                                          available.                             fully supported                             Fully supported. Includes images.
important feature
                                                                      [Ref:10]                          Screenshot [Ref:8]                                    [Ref:8,11]

Randomized and calculated
                                          not available                                                                      Fully supported. Each calculated
The system generates random values
for variables, thus giving different
                                                                                                                             question consists of a formula
questions to different students.                                      [Ref:10]                                               containing one or more variables, as
                                                                                                                             well as a range for each variable.
important feature

Timed quizzes

Timed quizzes                                                                                                      [Ref:5]
                                          Displays a running clock, timing                                                   For every quizz, a time limit can be
                                          test completion.                                                                   defined.
not an important feature                  All question types can be timed.

Timed test submission

The system gives a deadline for a
student to submit/upload his work/test.
                                                                                                                             For every quizz, a date of availability
                                                                                                                             can be defined.
important feature

Fill in-the-blank test

2 variants:                                                           [Ref:10]
The answer is not evaluated (self-test)
                                                                                 does not allow multiple blank fields in Fully supported
The answer is automatically sent to and                                          a text.
evaluated by the instructor                                                                                      [Ref:5]

important feature

Short answer test

2 variants:                                                             [Ref:10]
The answer is not evaluated (self-test)
                                                                                   Auto correction feature: Student's  Fully supported
The answer is automatically sent to and                                            answer is matched against a regular
evaluated by the instructor                                                        expression                                                  [Ref:8,11]

important feature

Other question types

                                             Ordering questions: Student has to
                                             put answer in the correct order.
not an important feature

API to add custom question
                                             Not available                         Custom questions implemented with Not available
Programming interface that allows to
add custom question types
                                                                                   Flash, can be integrated to courses.
implemented in Java, JavaScript, ASP,                                              (not an official API)
PHP or other languages. Question
results should be integrated to student's

very important feature

Quiz parameters

Additional parameters to define visibility
or access to quizzes.
                                             Quizz can be password protected                                               Questions can be:
important feature                                                                                                     delivered at once/one at a time
                                                                                                                      password protected
                                                                                                                      restricted to be accessed by
                                                                                                                       specific IP addresses (can
                                                                                                                       define one mask)
                                                                                                                      restricted to be visited only
                                                                                                                      restricted to be visible in a
                                                                                                                       specific time slot
                                                                                                                      released to specific
                                                                                                                       subset/group of students
                                                                                                                      associated a limit for attempts


Actions based on test
                                       All question types (except for short       availability of course             Update students gradebook
Based on test results the system
provides actions like:
                                       answer tests) can be automatically          (modules) can be bound to           (also if multiple attempts are
Give a short feedback to the student   evaluated:                                  success in quizzes. Detailed        allowed)
Autocorrect the answers                give a feedback to student                  criteria for "success" can be      Release/hide scores to student
Notify the instructor
Grant access to next course sections
                                       (detailed and general)                      defined.                           Show/hide correct answers
Add/remove coursework                  can correct wrong answers                                                      Show/hide question feedback
Update student's grades                disable multiple attempts                                                      Grant access to new quizzes
                                       update of gradebook                                                            Quizz results can be graded by
important feature                      no notification of instructor                                                   instructor or automatically by


    Teacher's Environment and Pedagogical Tools
General                                            Blackboard                             LearningSpace                                        WebCT

Multiple teachers support

The system supports multiple teachers
for one course. Either
                                           Course can have multiple               ... with access rights specific to             A WebCT course "belongs" to a single
                                           instructors, each one having an        documents, activities and fields               designer ( (= instructor). However, the
                                           individual account and access          (lessons, modules etc.)                        designer can grant designer rights to
         every teacher cares for its
                                           rights                                                                                other users.
          own group of students, or
         every teacher cares for a
                                                                                                                       [Ref:1]   Teaching assistants can also be
          particular part/chapter of the                               [Ref:10]                                                  defined.
important feature

Teamworking                                        Blackboard                             LearningSpace                                        WebCT

Teacher can set up group
of students
                                           Classes can be segmented into                                                         Groups can be defined individual by
Teacher can set up group of students
                                           study groups (see also                                                                individual and at random (by number of
                                           "Teamworking").                                                                       groups or number of students per
very important feature                                                                                                           group).
                                                                                                                                 Private discussion topics can also be
                                                                                                                                 crated automatically for each group, as
                                                                                                                                 well as a presentation area (=a set of
                                                                                                                                 HTML files).

                                                                                                                                                         Screenshot [Ref:1]

Group file upload capability
Group file upload capability. Resource   Supported through the dropbox                                                       Groups can put their presentations (=a
pools for groups.
                                         tool.                                                                               set of HTML files) on the WebCT
                                                                                                                             server, where they can be viewed by
important feature                                                                                                            any other students


Tutoring                                          Blackboard                           LearningSpace                                       WebCT

Asynchronous tutoring (i.e.
by email)
                                         fully supported                        Messages with attachments.                   Messages with attachments. Supports
Asynchronous teacher-student
communication (i.e. by email)
                                                                                Supports message classes.                    message classes and context sensitive
                                                                     [Ref:10]   Multiple forums.                             messages (relative to consulted Web
very important feature
                                                                                                                   [Ref:1]   Multiple forums.


Synchronous tutoring (i.e.
Audio-, Videoconference)
                                         Synchronous tutoring supported         included in collaboration module             Chat and whiteboard (no audio-
Synchronous teacher-student (i.e.
Audio-, Videoconference)
                                         by Virtual Classroom (see section      (chat, audioconferencing,                    videoconferences)
                                         synchronous student-student            videoconferencing, application
                                         communication).                        sharing)                                                                      [Ref:1]
important feature
                                         No native audio or video
                                         conferences                                                               [Ref:1]


Teachers can assign
specific course material to
group of students
                                          Not really supported. Instructor                                     [Ref:1]   Specific course materials and tools can
Teachers can assign specific course       can send individual material trough                                            be released to specific students (but
material to group of students
                                          drop box.                                                                      not to presentation groups), also
                                                                                                                         depending on their grades in a quiz.
important feature                                                     [Ref:10]

Course evaluation                                  Blackboard                         LearningSpace                                     WebCT

Trace of student's paths
through modules
                                          Tracking of content usage can be           all student activities are         A tracking feature allows instructors to
The student's accesses to pages etc.
are logged by the server. The teacher
                                          enabled/disabled for each content           tracked (except for actions in     see how students use the various
can analyze the access trace of a         item.                                       "external" course content          course tools (content, questions, etc.).
student and give individual support and                                               pages)                             (each student can also see his own
                                                                      [Ref:10]       AICC standards compatible          tracking statistics).
                                                                                      student tracking                   Wide range of evaluation possibilities.
important feature                                                                                                        Quizz results can be exported to text
                                                                                                               [Ref:1]   file
                                                                                                                         Teacher can be notified about quizz
                                                                                                                         results of students


Statistical/graphical reports

The interactions of students with the
teaching system are logged. These
                                          Provides reporting on            Complete reporting functions. 17              Detailed evaluation features (pairwise
interactions include page accesses,       individualized tests for final   predefined reporting schemes are              compare between students, compare
quizz results, time exposure of course    grading. Grades can be exported. available.                                    student to group etc.)
content and quizz questions etc. The
system is able to generate meaningful
                                          Various course statistics and
statistical reports with textual and      useful reports can be generated:                        Screenshot [Ref:1]     General graphical and statistical views
graphical views. The reports are used     overall course usage, course
by the teachers and authors to improve
                                          content usage, communications
the quality of the online course.        usage, group reports, student                                                for student files database.
very important feature                   Reports and statistics data can be                                           Export of quizz results supported
                                         exported or displayed graphically.
                                         There is no simple way to get                                                                                    [Ref:1]
                                         tracking statistics on several
                                         content pages at once.


Grade management

Manager for student grades. Support to
calculate grades based on student's
                                         Powerful online Gradebook.            Instructors can manage and edit        Grade management is very detailed
quizz results.                           Ergonomic online spreadsheet          student results records                (see also "Management of student
                                         view with possibility to edit grades.                                        files").
important feature                        Grades can be made visible to                                   Screenshot
                                         students                                                                     E-mail is integrated into student
                                                                                                                      tracking and grade maintenance tools
                                                                      [Ref:10]                                        enabling lists of students with particular
                                                                                                                      grade to be sent group e-mail.



General                                           Blackboard                              LearningSpace                              WebCT

Registration and follow-up
of students
                                         3 enrolling methods:                      powerful online management of                                          [Ref:1]
The system should provide online
                                         individual enrollment of each
                                         student by the instructor
registration of students.                  batch enrollment (by uploaded text student files
very important feature                     open enrollment                                                 Screenshot [Ref:1]


Management of student
                                           With a level 3 license (expensive!), powerful online management of                   Spreadsheet interface for student files
The system should provide
management of student files. It should
                                           Blackboard can be integrated with student files                                      database. The table presentation can
also integrate with common database        an institution's students            includes import/export of student data          be freely defined and new database
systems used at administration offices     management system.                                                                   columns can be created. Database
in universities.
                                                                                                                      [Ref:1]   columns can be calcualted (formula
                                                                                                                                editor included).
Support for one student attending many
                                                                                                                                Student files can be pasted from or
very important feature                                                                                                          copied to the clipboard (the clipboard is
                                                                                                                                availabe in many other tools)

                                                                                                                                Supports import/export of student data.
                                                                                                                                Campus edition has an API to link to
                                                                                                                                other student management systems.


Access rights

The system provides groups of users,
like students, instructors, authors etc.
                                           6 (exclusive!) user types:              Detailed access rights can be                User groups:
with differentiated access rights.         Instructor, Teaching assistant,         associated. It is possible to define
                                           Grader, Course builder, Student,        new user groups.                                    Administrator (one per server)
very important feature                     Guest.                                                                                      Designer (= course author) is
                                           Various access rights can be                                                                 usually also the instructor (one
                                           modified individually                                                                        per course, but a designer can
                                                                                                                                        grant designer level access to
                                                                        [Ref:10]                                                        other users)
                                                                                                                             Student
                                                                                                                             Teaching assistant, a user with
                                                                                                                              the right to mark quizzes and
                                                                                                                              change grades of other

                                                                                                                      A student has a global ID/password
                                                                                                                      and an ID/password for each course.
                                                                                                                      MyWebCT tries to hide this as good as
                                                                                                                      possible, so that the student only has
                                                                                                                      to rembember the global ID/password.


    Technical Requirements

Client platform                                    Blackboard                       LearningSpace                                   WebCT

Standard Web browser
(entirely platform
independent)                               Totally platform independent.      supported                               Internet Explorer version 5.0 and
                                           Synchronous "virtual classroom" is Exception: synchronous                  higher and Netscape Navigator 4.7x
The only required client software is a
standard Web-Browser like Netscape,
                                           a Java applet                      communication requires external         (not Netscape 6) are fully supported
Explorer, Opera etc. No special                                               tools
software or plug-ins are needed to                                 [Ref:2,8,10]                                                                       [Ref:1,2]
browse through the course content, and
the course can be accessed with the
most important client platforms
(Windows, MacOS, Unix/Linux, Web-

This requirement is particularly
important to prevent students from any
potential frustration. Most students are
not computer experts, and software
installations are a considerable

very important feature

Win 9x, NT (software or
                                     Does not require plugins at all         fully supported (Live module for         Standard Web browser
If the system requires proprietary
sofware or plugins, they should be
                                                                             synchronous communication).
available for the Windows (9x, NT)                                [Ref:10]   Alternatively Notes client offers                               [Ref:1,8]
platform.                                                                    additional functionality (Course
                                                                             authoring, download and offline
very important feature                                                       reading of course material,
                                                                             cooperative work on documents).
                                                                             The use of the Notes client is
                                                                             therefore mandatory for authors and
                                                                             administrators, and studends who
                                                                             have to collaborate.


MacOS (software or
                                     Does not require plugins at all         synchronous communication features Standard Web browser
If the system requires proprietary
sofware or plugins, they should be
                                                                             not supported
available for the MacOS platform.                                 [Ref:10]                                                                   [Ref:1,8]

very important feature

UNIX, Linux (software or
                                     Does not require plugins at all         synchronous communication features Standard Web browser
If the system requires proprietary
sofware or plugins, they should be
                                                                             not supported
available for the most important                                  [Ref:10]                                                                     [Ref:1]
UNIX / Linux platforms.                                                                                    [Ref:1]

important feature

Server platform                                   Blackboard                           LearningSpace                               WebCT

Win 9x, NT

If the system requires more than a
standard Web-Server, the Windows
                                          Fully supported. Requires Win NT NT 4.0 Intel and MS IIS required.         Windows NT and Windows 2000
(9x, NT) platform should be supported.    or 2000, MS SQL Server 7.        Also requires third party database        Server are supported.
                                          For level 2 and 3, a two-server  (Oracle, MS-SQL or DB2).
very important feature                    configuration is recommended.                                                                                [Ref:1]

UNIX, Linux

If the system requires more than a
standard Web-Server, the most
                                          Supports Linux, Solaris, HP-UX,       not supported                        As of version 3.5, the following UNIXs
important Unix / Linux platforms should   AIX IRIX. Requires Apache,                                                 are supported:
be supported.                             MySQL (included).                                                [Ref:1]
                                          For level 2 and 3, a two-server                                                   Compaq Tru64 5.0 and 5.1
very important feature                    configuration is recommended.                                                     HP/UX 10.20
                                                                                                                            IBM AIX 4.1
                                                                                                                            Sun Sparc Solaris 2.6, 2.7, and
                                                                                                                            Red Hat Linux libc6 6.2 and



If the system requires more than a
standard Web-Server, the MacOS
platform should be supported.
                                           Not supported                          not supported                               Not supported
important feature
                                                                      [Ref:10]                                      [Ref:1]                                        [Ref:1]

    General Properties

General                                            Blackboard                             LearningSpace                                       WebCT

Multi language support

Multi language support
                                                                                  15 languages available: english,            There are language packs for different
                                                                                  german, french, spanish, italian,           languages. Availability depends on the
very important feature                                                            danish, traditional chinese, simplified     version. Among these: French,
                                                                                  chinese, korean, japanese, brasilian        German, Italian, Spanish.
                                                                                  portuguese, swedish, norwegian,
                                                                                  finnish and dutch.                                                Screenshot [Ref:1,11]

Standards / Metadata
support (IMS, IEEE, AICC)
                                           IMS support announced.             Allows import of AICC courses.                  The following IMS standards are
The IMS initiative is focusing on
developing technical specifications that
                                           Blackboard is primary technical                                                    supported as of version 3.6: IMS
will support a broad range of learning.    contractor for IMS.                IMS support announced                           Content Packaging 1.1, IMS Learning
The IMS technical specifications will      Currently, the system provides the                                                 Resource Meta-data 1.1 and Question
provide the general guidelines and
requirements developers must write to
                                           following metadata scheme:                                                         & Test Interoperability 1.1, as well as
in order to create interoperable content   general, life cycle, technical and                                                 IMS Enterprise in the Campus Edition.
and management systems.                    rights management informatioh.
IMS is working to incorporate some                                   [Ref:2,10]
fundamentals of the AICC standards.

Normalisation initiative coordinated by
IEEE: Learning Technology Standards
Commitee LTSC and specifically the
Learning Objects Metadata (LOM)
working group.

Aviation Industry CBT Commitee
(AICC), is an international association
who develops specifications for the
aviation industry. The target is to
enable interoperability between
interactive pedagogical resources and
teaching platforms.

important feature

XML support

The system allows for import and
export of course content and course
                                           not supported                          Users can export MyWebCT in XML
state (student files, gradebooks, trace                                           format.
reports, ...) in XML format.                                            [Ref:8]   The IMS Enterprise API (Campus
                                                                                  Edition only) also makes use of XML.
very important feature

Programming interfaces

The system provides an application
programming interface (API). An API
                                           Blackboard level 3 provides a          WebCT provides two APIs for
allows to add missing functions with       Java-based API unifying diverse        manipulating the student databases,
scripts or programs.                       online campus systems into one         allowing for interoperability with an
                                           integrated platform allowing for       institution's Student Information
An API greatly increases the flexibility   user-driven single log-in service      System (SIS).
and interoperability of a platform.
However, using an API requires
                                           delivery, as well as capabilities
programming skills.                        that allow each school, department            a proprietary standard API,
                                           or campus within the institution to           an XML-based IMS Enterprise
very important feature                     maintain its own customized
                                         The Blackboard "Building blocks"                                                     API (only in Campus Edition)
                                         initiative should allow Blackboard
                                         to interoperate with other systems                                            The APIs can be used either through
                                         (e.g. student management,                                                     the command-line or through a Web
                                         assessment software, etc.).                                                   forms-based interface.

                                                                       [Ref:8]                                                                          [Ref:8]

Backup support

The entire system can be backed up as
well as individual courses.
                                         Elements of a course (contents,         Common backup of 1) LS's database           entire system backup or single
                                         discussion boards) can be               content and 2) course content pages          courses
                                         archived individually or together.      on web server                               backup can be initiated by web
very important feature
                                                                                                                              browser (admin), by command
                                                                                                                              line or by automated tasks (like
                                                                                                                             course backups are cross
                                                                                                                              platform and upward version
                                                                                                                             Campus Edition also includes
                                                                                                                              a couple of course
                                                                                                                              management scripts to
                                                                                                                              manage courses from the
                                                                                                                              command line



Can the platfom be integrated in the
existing computer infrastructure? This
                                         Blackboard level 3 provides a                 since the course content is
requires compatibility with common       Java-based API unifying diverse                external, any web-technology
data standards, protocols and            online campus systems into one                 can be used
programming languages (JavaScript,
Java, ASP, PHP)
                                         integrated platform allowing for              synchronous communication
                                         user-driven single log-in service              tools use H.323 (audio- and
                                         delivery, as well as capabilities              videotransmission) and T.120
very important feature
                                         that allow each school, department             (realtime- and
                                           or campus within the institution to             multipointcommunication)
                                           maintain its own customized                     standards
                                           environment.                                   LDAP support announced
                                           The Blackboard "Building Blocks"
                                           initiative should allow Blackboard
                                           to interoperate with other systems
                                           (e.g. student management,
                                           assessment software, etc.).

Web technology
                                                                                   Works with any standard web media
Compatibility with common web media
types for audio (mp3, real audio), video
                                                                                   (flash etc)
(avi, quicktime), images and animations                                            (course content is external to
(gif, jpeg, animated gif, shockwave), 3D                                           LearningSpace)
objects (vrml) and Java applets.
Compatibility with common
programming languages (Java,                                                                                  Screenshot
JavaScript) and standards (CSS)

very important feature

Support                                             Blackboard                             LearningSpace                                     WebCT

Technical support

Technical support
                                           Direct support by email, FAQ's          available (Mindspan solutions)               Available.
                                           and users forum (mailing list).
very important feature                                                                                              [Ref:1,2]          WebCT also hosts several
                                                                       [Ref:2,8]                                                        mailing list and discussion
                                                                                                                                        forums where developers can
                                                                                                                                        ask questions. These mailing
                                                                                                                     lists are very active and also
                                                                                                                     animated by the WebCT
                                                                                                                     support team.
                                                                                                                    A knowledge base contains
                                                                                                                     answers to common problems
                                                                                                                     with WebCT.
                                                                                                                    A feature called "Ask Dr. C" is
                                                                                                                     also available for people to get
                                                                                                                     answers to problems they have
                                                                                                                     with WebCT.
                                                                                                                    Customers can also buy
                                                                                                                     consulting services from
                                                                                                                     WebCT to help them
                                                                                                                     implement a WebCT solution.


Pedagogical support

Pedagogical support
                         Downloadable tutorials.                  available (Mindspan solutions)

important feature                                       [Ref:8]

System documentation

System documentation
                         Instructors manual, students             printed and online                         Printable and online.
very important feature                                                                             [Ref:1]   Additional documentation is available
                                                        [Ref:8]                                              for developers and students. It is
                                                                                                             offered by experienced WebCT users
                                                                                                             at educational institutions.


Tutorials, Workshops,
                                          Various downloadable tutorials        Various services are offered by Lotus            online and printable tutorials
Support for training of course authors,                                         Mindspan Solutions Group.                         for course authors
teachers, administrators.
Services like hosting, consulting,                                    [Ref:8]                                                    training and certification in
course implementation.                                                                                                            WebCT for users, developers,
                                                                                                                                  system administrators and
important feature                                                                                                                 trainers.
                                                                                                                                 course implementation

                                                                                                                                           No specific support is
                                                                                                                                           available in
                                                                                                                                           switzerland (but
                                                                                                                                           WebCT has
                                                                                                                                           representatives in


Stability / Bugs

Overall robustness of the environment.                                                                          [Ref:8]   The current version of WebCT (3.6) is
                                                                                                                          still built on the same code base as the
very important feature                                                                                                    original version. This makes it difficult
                                                                                                                          to maintain and prone to bugs. An
                                                                                                                          entirely new version, codenamed
                                                                                                                          "Cobalt", is announced for the first
                                                                                                                          quarter of 2002 (see Leveraging
                                                                                                                          Technology to Transform the
                                                                                                                          Educational Experience, a WebCT
                                                                                                                          white paper).

Cost                                               Blackboard                        LearningSpace                                WebCT

Costs for licenses etc.

... for
                                           - Bb 5 Level One (Course           Special conditions for higher         WebCT Standard Edition academic
                                           Manager): $5,000 USD per server    education organizations by Passport   licence cost per year, for one server
             license fees                 per year                           Advantage contract (the Lotus         and an unlimited number of students:
             administrative maintenance   - Bb5 Level Two (Course and        Academic Solution Licenses have       $5000 (June 2001)
             system maintenance           Portal Manager): $25,000 USD per   been withdrawed). Prices are not
                                           server per year                    published yet.                        Licence cost for Campus Edition
important feature                          - Bb5 Level Three (Advanced                                              depends on each solution (no price
                                           Course and Portal Manager):                                              quote available).
                                           $50,000 USD per production
                                           server per year plus one-time
                                           integration fees.

                                           NOTE: All prices are based on <
                                           25,000 users

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