Multiple LMS Usage

At Mohawk College, we use multiple learning management systems. I know this is odd, not many folks have the luxury of playing with Blackboard, WebCT, FirstClass and Desire2Learn (as well as Moodle). We’re closing in on the dates that will eventually close Blackboard and WebCT as our license will be up. I’ve been alternately happy and sad about this; I’m happy because these are aging systems, and with Blackboard, hasn’t seen widespread adoption in the College. Originally it was our upgrade path from WebCT, until Desire2Learn became our platform of choice.  I’m sad because I think there was a small opportunity for a program of study to build in flexibility in teaching and learning for their students. I’m disappointed in the usual push-back that multiple systems are clunky and that students don’t want to manage multiple sets of passwords and user names. Well, sure, but they do that already with Hotmail, Gmail, Myspace, Facebook and whatever other stuff they’re using. Really, isn’t it better to simulate real life, where you might have to login to one system for payroll management, but another for communication? Isn’t that building a mental flexibility and an ability to adapt to new systems quickly, a crucial skill going forward?

That’s not to say that I’m unhappy with Desire2Learn,  it doesn’t have any performance issues (much like what Stephen Downes wrote about the Sakai vs. Moodle in the OLDaily) and it’s been the best of the lot by a longshot. I wish it was more robust in the web 2.0 area, and a built in collaborative document would be a good way to have student collaborate (without their LiveRoom add in), but it’s easier to use than Blackboard and WebCT and is web-based, which is a plus for those who don’t want to download the client for FirstClass.