How does Trunk compare to Blackboard?

This August, faculty in the the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, and The Fletcher School, will be making a major transition in how they teach their classes. Blackboard Basic, the learning management system that has been used at Tufts for the last 12 years is being retired. It is being replaced by Trunk, Tufts’ new online environment designed to facilitate teaching, learning, and assessment at Tufts.

Trunk is powered by Sakai, an open source collaboration and learning environment that was developed by the educational community and is made freely available under an open source license. Sakai is used at over 350 schools around the world to support teaching, learning and scholarly activity both inside and outside the classroom. Trunk is the version of Sakai that has been configured and customized for use at Tufts.

As the project to replace Blackboard with Trunk has geared up, faculty often ask, “Can I do everything in Trunk that I can do with Blackboard?” Although there are some important differences between Blackboard and Trunk and there is a learning curve to adjust to the new environment, an instructor will be able to do just about everything in Trunk that they could do in Blackboard, and Trunk offers some new opportunities for teaching, learning, and collaboration. It really is just a question of deciding how best to go about it.

After orienting to the new environment, instructors will easily be able to upload and organize files, email their classes, post announcements, and create discussion forums, among other things. In addition, Trunk has certain tools and functionality that allow instructors to do things that they cannot currently do in Tufts’ Blackboard environment.

Trunk provides:

  • A private “site”* called My Workspace to all Tufts users (faculty, staff and students). My Workspace contains tools and a content area where files can be kept and moved to any course or project site or made accessible via the Web.
  • Course sites that are automatically generated by SIS data. Instructors can make their course visible to students by “publishing” them.
  • Project “sites”*, which can be created by any Tufts users, and can be used for various types of collaboration, with Tufts and non-Tufts participants.

In addition, with Trunk you can:

  • Create HTML pages and publish them on the Web or Trunk sites
  • Drag and drop documents from your computer into Trunk
  • Add several sections and recitations rosters to a single course site
  • Add guest instructors to your class
  • Add individuals outside Tufts as guests on your site.

*Site: A site in Trunk is a personal or collaborative area.

A more indepth comparison of Trunk and Blackboard tools can be found here. To learn more about Trunk and to sign up for a workshop, go to

Trunk Support Team

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