So, it looks like Blackboard is having a clear-out of older and less-used tools - after yesterday's announcement that Blackboard Open Content would be discontinued from 31st December 2019, I've read today that the Social Learning Tools are also being dropped as of this date - see . https://blackboard.secure.force.com/apex/btbb_articleview?id=kAA39000000PB5mGAG There's also an announcement that Blackboard ProSites will be deprecated on the same date, but I'd have to admit I've not heard of this.
The Social Learning Tools were and interesting development; I remember a lot of interest when they were launched, and I headed a campaign to improve the privacy of them to allow them to be used within UK privacy legislation. It also took quite a lot of work to get them approved here in terms of privacy and safeguarding as most of our students are under 18.
However the tools never really seemed to take off; it was a great idea to have a "social network lite" in the VLE, with the ability to create shared areas (Spaces), and send messages to students in other institutions, but the functionality was rather limited, and it never took off at our institution.
I spoke to others at different institutions, and never found anyone who did use it actively; I think most of the usage for us was test messages or Spaces set up with good intentions. Therefore I'm not surprised that it's being dropped.
However, the Contact Cards which appear when you hover over a user's profile, showing their photo and interests, was a very nice feature. It will be interesting to see if any of this functionality is maintained.
I'd be interested to know if the deprecation of this tools causes any issues for others. Unfortunately I don't think it will be a great loss for us.