UMW's Bluehost/Fantastico Experiment

If posts by the cogdog, blamb AND Jon Udell weren’t enough to convince you, then take MY word too and run, don’t walk, over to Gardner Campbell’s blog to listen to a 45 minute recording from their latest faculty academy on using a 3rd party hosting solution and application ‘control panel’ as a way to inexpensively support faculty innovation and experimentation. (And for the record, this hasn’t changed my mind at all about podcasts, though Brian’s right, Gardner’s voice is remarkably soothing to listen to ;-)

I must admit to feeling a little dissatisfied with the discussion about ‘enterprise computing’ -type questions (around minute 20 and following, and in the questions and answers in the end) but it’s not a simple complaint either.

First off, they really should be commended for adopting a mechanism that greatly increases the authentic assessment of new technologies, part of the aim that’s described in the first 20 minutes. And in regards to the ‘enterprisey’ issues, some stock also needs to be placed in the retort of how enterprisey these systems should have become anyways. This has come up a few times in conversation for me over the last weeks – while the use of computer technology in teaching and learning isn’t that new, this beast we call the ‘course management system’ is barely 10 years old…do we really believe we got it right the first time, in just 10 years, and that the model will never need changing? So there’s a lot to be said in general about an approach that stays flexible, especially in light of Web 2.0, which if anything could be described as massive, non-stop disruptive innovation, the only constant being change. Sure, we thought the internet in general meant that, but now it really seems to be unfolding in front of our eyes.

So I’m left both inspired but wanting to eat my cake too – can we not have this flexibility and experimentation AND the guarantees of service we seem expected to provide? (I liked Gardner’s response about trust and agreeing to a certain amount of risk, but I’ve never seen that calm down an irate professor during exams when the system goes down.) Udell’s comment regarding Ray Ozzie’s speech really resonates for me here – “In his vision of the future of enterprise software, services are delivered on demand, they produce value in incremental steps, and they’re paid for when — not before — that value is proven.”

Still, Gardner and his crew are to be totally commended for their approach – maybe instead of a ‘learning management operating system‘ we might start thinking about a control panel for instructor-controlled (or student controlled, how about sticking that in your pipe!) mix- and matchable lightweight apps that already had the connectors to the SIS and authentication systems built in (or can these be the same thing?) – SWL

(the first step to dealing with your problem is admiting you have a problem…My name is Scott, and I am a blog addict…really, I’m working on my other machine right now as I write this!)

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