I posted several years ago an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education on the relative merits of using blackboard versus using blogs. I had, at the time, never used blackboard as an instructor, but now I am at an institution that does use Blackboard. I have, nonetheless, been toying around with creating a blog for some of my courses for students to present material to one another, comment on each other's work, and ultimately present it in a format that is accessible outside of the university in a public (hyper)space.
For disseminating course materials, I think one would have to supplement a blog with dropbox or google docs, but I think it is worth reconsidering.
Here is the old link.