Delivery Coordination of Digital Technology

User Perspective Developer Perspective Blackboard vs PBW

User Perspective Developer Perspective Blackboard vs PBW
Written by Gary Black

User Perspective Developer Perspective Blackboard vs PBW


Address the advantages and disadvantages of using these two collaboration tools from the User Perspective and the Developer perspective. 

User Perspective Developer Perspective Blackboard vs PBW

User Perspective Developer Perspective Blackboard vs PBW

In Blackboard (BB), as a user, one advantage was that the workspace was somewhat familiar. I have been an undergraduate student since 2008 and have used it in two universities. On the other hand, as a user, one tool not used to date has been the BB collaborative tool. (See my additional response under question 2). Additionally, PBWorks (PBW) has required an additional learning experience due to an unfamiliar layout environment and tools. An example was the collaborative assignment earlier this semester, which included correctly using the edit tools, especially the locking out mechanism requiring a steal option if the wiki page was either operative or dormant. User Perspective Developer Perspective Blackboard vs PBW


Both as a user and a new developer under the BB, the blog and wiki collaboration tools are contained within the University of Alabama .edu domain server. All student publications are held within that domain and the use of these tools is limited to what product and services were purchased from Blackboard. However, all these publications are subject to the University’s privacy policies. On the other hand, publications and tools are commercially based, even though the class site tools are offered under their Educational Edition.

From a user’s perspective Class Blog in BB to post the article review, the advantages to using it versus a linked blog. An instructor can manage student access as well as manage the content of the blog.  You can also score the bloggers’ input using the grading function.  From a developer’s perspective, you can contact UA Support for technical issues or extra features you might want to invoke.  The disadvantages of using the BB Blog (from a user’s perspective) were it was not at all intuitive and there was minimal help function.  Developers and instructors can view help here..


The advantages and disadvantages of the BB Wiki follow a similar pattern in respect of both user and developer.  An instructor should teach the fundamentals of the tool, manage the input of students, assess their understanding and progress.   However, features are limited.  The BB Wiki was also not altogether intuitive. View help summary here. Entries of the other students were visible to all which helped understand the process from a user’s point of view.  An external link to PBW Wiki, on the other hand, created new advantages for both users and developers.  There was a strong editing tool.  A user had the option to save what had been completed on a wiki page and continue verses having to “submit” to save in the BB. A student must then re-open to edit again.  For users, a comment field exists in PBW for collaborating while working on a single document.  There was also a notification feature which emailed all who were associated with the wiki.  The navigator and sidebar where also features offered in PBW which were not offered in the BB.  Both prove advantageous for users and developers.  Both BB and PBW wikis offer an ability to upload documents and link to images. These were two other advantages to developers and users.


The BB Journal tool advantages and disadvantages of from either user or developer standpoints.  By common use terms journals are a personal writing space for self-reflection and private communication with the instructor. One advantage appeared to be taking notes and making comments (if allowed) on them. Collaborating with other users or developers, poses a challenge in the BB using this tool. Several editing tools are included such as edit and delete entries, periodical settings, and permits for other course members to view journals. Users and developers may benefit from releasing this information at a beneficial time. Grading can be initiated or left null.


The BB Collaborate (discussion forum) seemed to not be advantageous at all in either respect.  A developer has several tools which include setting a time for a session to be open/close, repeated on weekly or other alternatives. Several room options provide the developer settings to fine tune each session, so the user will benefit from the experience. Examples include, type of session, teleconference options, room attributes, grade center integration, roles and access. I know through time, and direct family, three universities who do not use this tool because of technical issues. All have used alternative third party collaborative tools such as GoToMeeting or Facebook.

User Perspective Developer Perspective Blackboard vs PBW

If an instructor or developer decided to use collaborative tools linked outside of their LMS, some issues include:

Cost of use for linked collaborative tools.

Training for non-technical users of linked collaborative tools.

Ease of use and effectiveness of linked collaborative tools.

Number of users that can access the linked collaborative tools simultaneously.

Bandwidth of external site (slow/no response could be costly for certain types of businesses/projects)

Storage and sharing of sensitive and proprietary information on an external site

Your company’s policies for storing proprietary data on external sites.

The external site’s ability to protect your company’s data from improper access/disclosure.

Ability to enforce data share/protection agreements with external site.

Data storage limits for the external site.

Authorized access to data when needed.

User Perspective Developer Perspective Blackboard vs PBW

About the author

Gary Black

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