A colleague recently said to me, quite proudly “We are a moodle school” and another school recently announced that they were now a Google school. In both case I felt that they had let down their students. They forgotten what was important, they had forgotten about the learning of the students and focused on the technology.
I am always disappointed when teachers focus to the exclusion of all others on one technology, be it an online environment or solution; or a platform or operating system. As soon as this happens its the tail wagging the dog, technology is driving educational decisions.
I am not trying to detract from either Moodle or Goodle Applications, in fact I believe that they are each excellent tools within the framework of their features, but to focus on them to the exclusion of others is limiting the opportunities that education requires.
All products have strengths and weaknesses, they all present opportunities that can with the creative mind of a teacher be utilised to improve the learning outcomes of our students. While Google documents allows for synchronous editing of documents, mail and some web publishings (as well as other bits and pieces) it doesn’t allow structured testing, linier progression through tasks which Moodle does. While Moodle does provide some walled garden features of social networking, it doesn’t do it as well as Ning does. And Ning does, in the fuller subscription models, allow some hosting of media, its no where near as good as flickr or youtube. None of the previous product host wikis as well as wikispaces or wet paint wikis but these two do not do the features of the social media tools or the synchronous editing.
There are always strengths and weaknesses, the best policy (IMHO) is to be agile and responcive. Not to lock yourself into one product but consider a range of products that will fill a number of needs. Be agile enough to pick up new tools as they become available and similarly to be able to let them go when they reach their used by date. Organisations struggle with this, technical departments struggles with this too. Teachers invest time and energy and then do not want to see it changed, to see the materials lost.
Organisations develop inertia. They see the investment they have made and don’t want to change. Once the object is rolling its hard to change its course. Then more you invest in an system, the bigger its mass and the more it takes to change, to deviate the mass from its course. When you say you are a Moodle, Google or insert product name here school you are creating a Mass with HUGE INERTIA. You are no longer agile, you are no longer flexible and it is unlikely that you are going to be able to change to met the needs of the students.
A better approach is to use each tool on its merits, be open to new material, able to change, to accept common standards to allow interoperability between platforms and applications.
IMHO, that is………………..