Thursday, June 04, 2009

Colleges consider using blogs instead of blackboard: Getting closer, but not completely thought through, in my opinion

The article titled, "Colleges Consider Using Blogs Instead of Blackboard" in the Chronicle of Higher Education, gets some things right and some things wrong, in my opinion. I want to keep this somewhat short because I could write a novel on this topic. First, they understand that paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for Blackboard might not be the best technological solution to facilitate learning. Second, they have experienced the sheer power of the Wordpress blogging platform, which can be used to develop websites that facilitate online learning, eportfolios, blogs, and more... PLUS it's OPEN SOURCE. Yes, it's license free. "What? Something must be wrong with it then." Nope, only one's inability to understand open source software and how it works. We have implemented Wordpress at BGSU as the foundation of our web 2.0 learning landscape. The platform enables the brilliant minds of our university to easily consume, collaborate, communicate, and create content. It facilitates the publication of audio, video, images, and presentations quite easily. In fact, I am giving a presentation on our Wordpress project at the 2009 Moodle Moot/ Sloan-C Conference in San Francisco. In essence, the Wordpress Platform is very powerful and customizable and could be used to deliver great content. If the only thing they wanted a learning management system to do was to present content and provide an interactive platform for learning, then it would meet their needs just fine, but the Learning Management System must do more than that. Wordpress, without tons of customizations to the core, cannot and does not provide the same functionality that a Learning Management System can provide. A better direction for CUNY to go would be to continue to support Wordpress because it is an amazing teaching and learning platform, BUT ALSO look into implementing Moodle, an open source learning managements system, to replace Blackboard if they are unhappy with Blackboard. I personally think Blackboard and Moodle are equals with very different price tags. Either way, the technological infrastructure of Moodle and Blackboard is designed to do different things than the technology in Wordpress. For example, Moodle and Blackboard both have grade books, test creation tools, advanced discussion forums, assignment drop boxes, and they interface with a variety of Student Information Systems for enrollment management. To draw an analogy from a brick and mortar classroom, Moodle/Blackboard would be a classroom with a locked door equipped with chalkboard, desks, computers, projector, and other cool teaching and learning tools. Wordpress would be like equipping all the computers in the classroom with state of the art technology that enables the teachers and students to take teaching and learning to another level that neither Learning Management Systems can provide on their own. Yes, they will both claim to have blogging features, but as I stated before Wordpress is much more than a blogging platform. My point is that CUNY would be better off looking at Moodle and Wordpress as an open source alternative to Blackboard instead of just Wordpress.


Anonymous said...

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nish said...

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