As I have mentioned in the past, I use Desire2Learn as my Learning Management System (LMS). It has some really strong points and some not so strong points. And there is one tool that I think has both strong and weak points. That tool would be the Content Manager. Let me explain. :)
When I first started with CDLI a few years back, we were using WebCT as our LMS. It was simple to use but it did not allow one to track content. Essentially I, as a teacher, could not see what students were accessing inside the LMS when I posted things. So if I posted an answer key to a test or linked an interactive learning object for a student to use for remediation, I never knew if students accessed this content. That changed when we implemented D2L.
With Desire2Learn an instructor can place just about anything inside the content manager to see who accessed it, when, and for how long. I thought it such a strong feature that I started placing everything inside the content manager. For example I place all my worksamples in the content manager first and then inside the dropbox I quicklink to the worksamples within content. By doing it that way I can see when students download and start the worksample. A student just the other day was looking for a lot of help on the work assigned. This request came to me really late because the student did not start working on it until the last minute. How did I know? I checked the content manager reports to see that the work was not accessed until the day before. As an aside... this ability to see what students access comes in handy when parent teacher interview time comes.
But by placing all course materials inside D2L exposed its weaknesses, in my opinion. The first weakness appeared when I stared quicklinking to content. Imagine a content list that contains all work assigned this year, last year, two years ago, etc. Now imagine that list also contains videos to curriculum outcomes, interactive learning objects, etc. As you can imagine that list is quite long. For me, if I want to quicklink to one of those content items I have to scroll through that extensive list until I find it. When you have worksample 5 for three years of teaching in your content manager and the quicklink list does not sort this list as per the module it is placed in, then quicklinking to content can be frustrating. Why do I quicklink to content when the link is under content? Simple answer really. I believe that students should not have to search through things to find what I want them to do. I place links on the news area to avoid this... I use quicklinks.
The second weakness in the content manager involves how content appears when it is viewed inside D2L. When the student opens the content there is a large amount of screen real estate on the left and top that is taken up, space that could really come in handy. On the top of the screen is the D2L toolbar and on the left is the content listing. Content can be opened in an external window but if you have external websites/videos linked then this can cause the opening of multiple tabs or windows. What I would like to see is the content open with the option of opening in a presentation type of view. That way there would be no need to open in new windows or tabs. Furthermore in my use of quicklinks, I can instruct students to either use, or not use the presenter view for the content... as needed. Presenter view could be as simple as having an arrow on top to hide/show the tools and an arrow on the left to show the content list.
Having said all of this... I will not be giving up using the D2L content manager with my students. It is an awesome feature... and very powerful too. But, like every other teacher/tech geek... I want it to work my way :)