Learning Matters

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Only Connect!

I am trying something different today and blogging from a meeting. One of our key district priorities is to add more web-based capabilities to our instructional environment. We have some high school language arts teachers using Sharepoint for online discussions on texts, our physics classes are using WebAssign for web-based homework. Our assessment on these pilots shows that all students have Internet access at home, which makes us somewhat exceptional as a district. We envision many teachers utilizing Sharepoint with our more advanced staff, the techno jedi, adopting course management systems (CMS) like Moodle. We'll use best of breed solutions when we feel they offer significant advantages for teachers and learners, like we do with WebAssign for the sciences.

Now as long as you don't opt for the Portal version, Sharepoint is bundled with Windows Server at no additional cost and is not a big jump to get into if you are already running Windows as your server OS. But full blown course management systems are a different matter altogether. Are we going to make this capability available to our staff? Absolutely! But are we going to host it directly? Not sure.

So today, I am at a meeting for a working group convened by our state educational Internet provider on whether our Internet cooperative should be looking to host a CMS for the membership. To me, this offers tremendous economies of scale and the opportunity to pool expertise and ideas for innovation. Do I want to host a CMS like Moodle on my own, or are we better served by a cooperative model? I'm thinking the latter, but we'll see where the discussion heads today.