October 25th, 2011
inevitable seems to be happening: college campuses seem to be moving
"to the cloud" and to the Web 2.0 riches of the social Web.
With the Pearson-Google announcement of a Web-based, free LMS -- OpenClass, we
see more strong evidence that the line between cultural software and campus
software is vanishing.
How many of us have wished that the technology we work with on campus had the
magic of Facebook or YouTube or Twitter or LinkedIn?
Once educational technology moves -- as it is doing -- to "the cloud"
(i.e., served by a company, not your campus computing folks, and accessible
through the Web), then the rules of the game have changed. What is used
in the culture can also be used on campus. If software providers no
longer need a separate group of developers for the education market because of
the cloud, then all the blessings of Silicon Valley (and Kendall Square)
creativity can be bestowed on educational institutions.
We have long lamented that students have access to better applications on their
smart phones than is provided by the campus computing group. Faculty
development staff face the task of helping faculty use applications that are
harder to use than what they use at home. But, in fact, we don't need to live
with this disconnect any longer.
A quote from Wired Campus:
"Anytime Pearson and Google are used in the same sentence, it’s going to get
people’s attention,” says Don Smithmier, chief executive and founder of Sophia, another community-based learning system
that is backed by Capella Education, the corporation behind the online educator
Capella University. "I believe the world will be shifting away from a classic
LMS approach defined by the institution. Openness and social education is a
very powerful idea.” (Chronicle "Wired Campus"; Oct 25, 2011).
Interestingly, electronic portfolio providers have already moved to the cloud
with only one or two exceptions. They are also starting to sell
individual accounts. ePortfolios should be cultural software since
they are best when they are literally owned by learners at all stages of a
career. When will we see a similar announcement about a global software
company offering free accounts? Oh, we already have seen that.
That's already happening. And we already have eportfolio companies
partnering with Google.
The Web 2.0 business model is based on advertising OR on premium
services. Premium services means that the basic application is free and
then if you want other capabilities, you add those for a monthly fee,
But most eportfolio providers still combine personal eportfolios with an
assessment management system. But, personal portfolios can and should go
"cultural." Holding them back is the fact that assessment
management systems are owned by the institution for its own reporting purposes
and could not or should not "go cultural."
The two components should be unbundled so that each can follow its logical
trajectory: assessment management systems integrated with rubrics and
fine-grained outcomes to include all student learning in assessment, and
personal portfolios becoming cultural tools with all the benefits of Web 2.0
inventiveness and ease of use.
Unbundling seems to me inevitable since assessment management systems and
personal portfolios are so dissimilar in all ways. If personal portfolios
do "go cultural," then our community is in for some