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A New Guide to Course Management Tools

Posted by on Monday, September 29, 2014 in Resource.

by Derek Bruff, CFT Director

As Vanderbilt faculty, staff, and students have learned this fall, Vanderbilt’s course management system, OAK (powered by Blackboard), is currently experiencing significant delays. While the OAK team at VUIT continues working to fix these problems, instructors who find OAK’s slow performance to be disruptive to their teaching might want to consider other tools that support some of the common instructional functions ordinarily supported by OAK.

To that end, the CFT has put together a new guide to OAK alternatives. The new guide describes a few suggested technologies that can help with course communications, document sharing, discussion forums, and calendaring. These four functions are perhaps the most common uses of OAK on campus, aside from OAK’s grade center, which cannot be replicated outside of OAK due to student privacy concerns. In suggesting alternative technologies, we have focused on ones that are either Vanderbilt supported (like WordPress and Box) or have been used successfully by Vanderbilt faculty (such as Piazza and Google).

Please note that switching technologies in the middle of the semester is not recommended practice, but given OAK’s response times, some instructors might want to consider doing so. The new guide is meant to be a starting point for such instructors, pointing them to technologies that might be useful. Making a change will, however, require a fair amount of time and effort and likely involve troubleshooting beyond the scope of the guide.

Once more, here’s a link to the new guide to OAK alternatives.

If you have questions about how these or other tools might support your teaching objectives, feel free to schedule a meeting with one of the Center for Teaching’s teaching consultants by calling 322-7290 or emailing


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