Online Gradebooks - Something Worth Hating

Instructor Help: Reorder Grade Book Columns:

"The following tutorial shows how to reorder and hide/show columns in the Grade Book. Each Grade Book view tab (Grades, Members, View All, Custom View, SCORM Grades) has its own independent display order. The order for a specific view tab can be changed by pressing the Reorder Columns button when viewing that tab. If you wish all of the views to display in the same order, use the Reorder Columns button for each view."

The University of Illinois uses the same grading system that the University of Idaho does. And it is fortunate too since I was having a hard time trying to figure out who to reorder some of the columns. It is so hard that I actually need to search for instructions on how to do it from the internet. It is always a bad sign when something as simple as reordering some columns requires the user to read a manual.

I had optimistically assumed that in this modern age of AJAX that a mundane task like reordering columns was basically solved. I was proven wrong.

Before you read more, it might be best to read the instructions above first to see how unintuitive the UI is for the Blackboard Learning System really is.

Compare this to how a simple (and useful app) like Basecamp does it:

Basecamp help: To-do lists:

"To the left of each title, you'll see the reorder icon (it looks like four arrows). Click the icon and drag the list up or down to the location you want."

Simple: drag-and-drop.

And to make matters even worse, the entire Blackboard system is written in Java, takes a long time to load and does not even take advantage of all that Java has to offer. I am sure someone can come up with a better UI in Java. How hard can it be to support drag-and-drop in Java?

No one (student or instructor) that I have talked to likes using this online gradebook. So it really makes me wonder, is this the best that software developers can do for online gradebooks? Or is it this bad just because there aren't enough competitors in this field?

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