Just got some release notes for the new version of D2L (8.2) on the way this summer and it looks like they are beefing up some of the student collaborative tools, and improving on the (albeit basic) social features of the LMS.
One of the features that looks interesting is the ability for students to rate the value of a message posted in the discussion forums. In this respect, students can begin to grade conversations between students as to whether they are relevant or useful.
In addition, there will be a peer review option on discussion posts. Details are a bit sketchy on this feature and at first glance I’m wondering if this feature might be a bit redundant as discussions themselves can serve the function of peer review. I’ll have to wait and see the actual implementation of this feature to wrap my head around how it is significantly different than functionality already available by default with discussion boards.
Group Lockers and Group Dropboxes will make it easier for students to collaborate on group projects and shared files within the environment.
To aggregate group functions, D2L has created a central place for students to view their groups, contact group members, and access shared locker areas, dropbox folders, and discussion topics.
These new collaborative tools should make it easier for students to interact with each other and work on group projects while giving instructors a bit more flexibility when it comes to group assignments and projects.
One thing on my wishlist for future releases is more RSS feeds from the various tools to allow students to put the content where the like. The discussion boards seems like an obvious place for RSS feeds, but it would also be nice if this new central aggregated area would have an RSS notification system that would show when group lockers or dropboxes were updated.