I've already mentioned a meeting earlier this week in which we discussed options and possibilities for measuring/rating instructional technologies in such a way as to provide decision makers with a means to prioritize projects and resources.
Yesterday I had reason to consider what a student representative put on the table. When asked about the students' perspectives and use of a tool like Blackboard, she said that students get pissed when they can't find course materials or support resources online. She described Blackboard as a space as something of large course reference tool. Students don't print the syllabus, they refer to the version posted in their Bb course space. They don't make copious notes about assignment due dates, they refer to the course calendar in Bb. They don't print and submit assignments by hand, the use the Bb assignment manager.
There's this tension that all campuses deal with when considering technology: are students driving the direction or are we out in front enough to meet future demands as they develop? I think the exponential increase we've seen in the opening of course spaces in Bb illustrates that faculty are responding to student expectations for accessibility and flexibility. At the very least, I think Bb is allowing us to meet the students in the space where they're at -- providing a minimum set of core requirements that they are brining to campus. Our challenge (and the fun part) is to improve on those requirements in ways that encourage learning, exploration, and creativity.