From CUNY Academic Commons

aka Learning Management Systems, Virtual Learning Environment

CMSs are online software used to facilitate student learning. While their overall features vary some common components are: a protected space for posting course information, uploading files, grading, quizzes and tests, forums, groups and email. More recently collaboration and communication tools such as chat, IM, blogs, wikis, virtual whiteboard and video conferencing have been added.

List of Course Management Systems

Blackboard This commercial software is the big player in the higher education CMS industry. Through its adoption by colleges and through purchases of competitors and partners (WebCT, ANGEL Learning, Wimba, Elluminate and more), it is used by more colleges than any other commercial system. It is also the official CUNY-wide system. The core product is Blackboard Learn (now at version 9.1), and its functionality can be extended by other Blackboard products such as Blackboard Connect, a kind of campus-wide messaging system, and Blackboard Collaborate, which leverages Wimbo and Elluminate to for a number of synchronous educational activities (chat, virtual office hours, peer-to-peer). 

You can find all wiki content categorized as Blackboard related at this wiki page. Blackboard has recently released Course Sites, an a free (gratis, free as in beer) site powered by Blackboard Learn 9.1, Blackboard Connect and Blackboard Collaborate.

Comparison of Course management Systems at edu tools

Blackboard at CUNY

Version 8 Information for Faculty, Tips and FAQ’s

Version 9.1 Information, Instruction for Faculty, Tips and FAQ’s

Desire2Learn The only other commercial CMS that is a major competitor to Blackboard (D2L has hundreds of colleges to Blackboard’s thousands). It shares many of the same features as Blackboard but with a different user interface and approach.

Blackboard at one point sued D2L over patent infringement on CMS/LMS patents Blackboard held. Both companies have since agreed to settle the suit. Part of what also came out of this is that Blackboard pledged not to assert it’s patents against any Open Source systems. The two most used systems are listed below.

Moodle is the most widely deployed open source CMS (thousands of installations). It contains many of the same features as Blackboard. This page has a comparison of the features in Moodle and Blackboard.

Sakai is the other open source system most commonly used in higher education. It has now split into two versions: Sakai CLE (Collaboration and Learning Environment) and Sakai OAE (Open Academic Environment). Sakai CLE is the system that has been used for a number of years. Sakai OAE is a new environment

Engrade is an online gradebook that is provided free (gratis, free as in beer). It’s been around since 2003 and is the product of wealthy investors who wanted to create a free tool for teachers. It is most likely the widest used online gradebook. It has also added more LMS-like features such as messaging, quizzes, discussions, wikis, flash cards and attendance. While Engrade can be used by school systems (and has adoption in k12) it is also marketed directly to educators and claims over 2 million users.