What Jason Fried of 37signals (Ruby on Rails, Backpack, Ta Da, Highrise, Basecamp, etc., etc.) says about enterprise software is also true of the bigger course management software packages, such as Blackboard/Vista:
The people who buy enterprise software aren’t the people who use enterprise software. That’s where the disconnect begins. And it pulls and pulls and pulls until the user experience is split from the buying experience so severely that the software vendors are building for the buyers, not the users. The experience takes a back seat to the feature list, future promises, and buzz words.
I know that the Educause folks think that students want course management software, and so they believe they’re advocating on behalf of students when they promote it. And I know, too, that there needs to be some sort of command-and-control ability to interface with registration software, etc.
But the bloat & frustration level with something like Vista are just intolerable, especially compared with how easy it is to use tools like blogger, pbwiki, del.icio.us, etc., etc. I’m interested in helping my students engage the material in new ways, not in teaching the byzantine architecture of a program they’ll not see again after they graduate.