My appreciation to Blackboard for giving me a 30-day trial account to experiment with their Content System. I re-created my portfolio using their system, and I was impressed primaily with their use of WebDAV to store the documents. It was also very easy to create a variety of portfolios from the content stored online. To quote the Blackboard site:
WebDAV is an Internet standard used for sharing files via the Internet regardless of platform (Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Sun Solaris, and so forth). When put into use with the Blackboard Content System, WebDAV is a means for each user to access content from the Content System as if it were in any other network drive or folder.
I set up a folder on the virtual drive and then simply copied my files from my hard drive into that folder, a process that took seconds, and by far the easiest way to get my documents uploaded. I then used their Portfolio Creation Wizard to create a new Portfolio. I can edit any of the files directly, and change the content, even after the portfolio is published. I chose to upload the HTML files I created earlier for the Mozilla version of my portfolio, and then modified them once they were online. I really liked being able to edit a file directly, making necessary changes that show up immediately. In most traditional portfolio programs, a file that needs to be changed must be uploaded again, and the “bad file” deleted.
One downside I noticed: no built-in editor to format the pages. In the version I used, if I wanted to add formatting or links to a document, I needed to use an HTML editor. The system has the ability to download the portfolio, creating a Zip file. When I did it on my Mac and Windows computers, I was able to download the HTML files, but not the images or the other document attachments. But the basic structure of the portfolio as HTML files was intact.
I think this is a very useful system if a large University has installed Blackboard as a course management system. I especially like using WebDAV to store and update files, which provides a virtual drive on the computer desktop. The flexibility of the publication provides a shell for showcasing many types of documents. If a university is already using the Blackboard Course Management System, this Content System would be a feasible addition, but IMHO, it is too pricey ($10K per year) if they are just using the portfolio component.
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