Schools and Colleges, they say, should have a LMS, Teachers and Students need to have a Blog, Business and Corporations should, in addition to their public website, have a private social networking platform something like Yammer, Jive, Socialtext, or NewsGator (a SharePoint Add on) the list goes on.
Mmmm… I’m not so sure.
For years now Education, Corporates and individuals have been encouraged to embrace open source collaboration and sharing platforms like WordPress, Joomla, MediaWiki, Durpal and private Facebook groups all of which, to differing degrees, have been adopted and both individuals and business’s to promote either themselves and/or their enterprise.
It’s all terribly confusing and it’s even more difficult to change direction once a platform is chosen: The cry of staff and students is often: “We need a platform which does X or Y more easily” or “We need to employ an Instructional Designer or a SharePoint Expert to help us”. What makes it even more complicated when people say things like “In my previous school we used …” or “I know that in the UK and the USA they …”
Though these are good places to start your research I invariably find that if I approach these referenced organisations to find out how successfully they have adopted these near Utopian technologies I discover one of two things a) They have deep pockets and / or b) have nearly everyone in the organisation is using the platform. These two ingredients seem to be the keys to successful collaboration.
One thing I have learned is that almost any of these platforms can be good choices if the use of them is embraced by management, staff, students and parents and if there are sufficient resources to support the project.
I fail to see how a half hearted approach to Learning Management, Social Networking, or Collaboration can be successful unless we can find a platform that allows us to start small and grow large.
What teachers really need is less work, more time and a virtual space to distribute worksheets, schedules and to receive feedback and assignments.