Why Blackboard isn’t at the top of the class

GO1 Blog

The general disdain for Blackboard among students and professors is well-known. Being the major player in the LMS world led many universities to select them by default. But the landscape has changed in recent years and forward-thinking universities are finally moving on.


It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and bash the company at the top, but sometimes the criticism is justified. In this case, Blackboard's product simply sucks and the people have spoken. Blackboard's reluctance to evolve presented a valuable opportunity for competitors -- one that several have capitalized on.

Browser compatibility issues
One of the biggest complaints for years was the lack of compatibility with Chrome. While Blackboard has done their best to remedy this, many users still report random bugs when taking quizzes in Chrome. You'd think they would be motivated to fix this by now, after all, Chrome is the most widely used web browser today.

A clunky interface
Ten years ago all interfaces were clunky. But we've come a long way since then and sadly, Blackboard hasn't. Despite being one of the most requested updates, Blackboard has yet to implement a drag n' drop feature.
Overall the system feels very slow and rigid, like an old PC. Users complain of too many warning screens and required steps to handle basic tasks, such as moving an item from a folder to subfolder. Newer LMS are smooth and operate like you would expect software in 2015 to run.

Blackboard isn't intuitive
Perhaps the best thing about every new software program and tech gadget that's been released in recent memory is their intuitive nature. Unfortunately, Blackboard never got the memo about this trend.
Changing available options for students requires a number of "switches" that are not intuitively laid out. If you don't get the right combination, that particular feature doesn't work at all. The process can be tedious to say the least.

Doesn't prevent cut/paste in quizzes
Alternative LMS wised up to this quickly. Counting on the honor system for not sharing quiz answers hasn't proved to be reliable, which is why other programs don't allow a student to cut and paste from within the quiz. Blackboard still hasn't figured this one out.

Dated grade center
Would you use an internet browser that didn't allow multiple tabs in this day and age? Of course not. Not allowing the grade center in Blackboard to be opened in its own browser tab is inconvenient and time-consuming for teachers who already spend hours grading assignments.

Blackboard is slow to adapt
Blackboard continually reminds shareholders that they are investing heavily in R&D, but the customers aren't buying it. Blackboard waited too long to start revamping their system and now they are struggling to keep up with the newer, more innovative companies in this space.
Perhaps they took their lead in the market for granted, or maybe they just don't have what it takes to deliver what consumers want. Either way, the damage is done and savvy universities are taking their business to companies that put usability first and marketing second. Is your university living in the past or looking ahead to the future?

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