I have been using Black Board with my students for a year now. One major disadvantage of Black Board is you need someone to host it for you. At my school we have a hosted solution. However, not everyone does. Fortunately Black Board introduced Coursesites.com last year. It has grown to 74,000 instructors. It allows you to create 5 courses for FREE!! So why use something like Black Board or any CMS?
Black Board is a course management system. A course management system allows you to build a course online and invite people to take it. However, not everyone wants to build the next great MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). You can use a CMS to house all the files and links for your course. It also has a discussion board and a place to do journaling with your students. You can do live collaborative meetings or just use the tool to record and post a lesson. Your students can even use it to create digital portfolios.
Some of you may have heard that Google has gotten into the CMS business with Google Classroom. I have only worked with some of the features but my main fear with Google in general is the lack of security. Most CMS are closed systems with their own built in messaging system and document hosting. The classes do not cross each other. Google uses its Gmail messaging system and they have many sharing features. You can share both inside and outside the course. I am not decided on Google Classroom yet and will be investigating it for future posts. But for now give Coursesites a try..For FREE!