soul needs savin but i’m too damned shallow

(Thanks to Zoe for introducing me to Red (Elegy) and thus giving me this title.)

For my sins, I’m reading up on Virtual Learning Environments. I’m using Blackboard/Vista/WebCT (and they can’t get the name clear…doesn’t say much for the software) because 1) it’s sorta encouraged at the university level and 2) I’m eLearning Champion for the School of Computer Science. Yes, that’s an actual title. The University came up with it.

There’s a lot of that sort of thing in eLearning, I fear.

I also used Moodle rather shallowly and loathed it. I probably would loathe it less than Blackboard if I switched back, if only for the fact that it’s 1) open source, 2) free, and 3) downloadable. We pay tons of money for Blackboard and if I’m going to have a crappy experience I’d at least like the pleasure of being cheap.

Looking around, what I see is a lot of reinvention, and not just school specific stuff like Grades (look! discussion boards! mail! a blog! a calendar). Do we really need all this stuff built into a monolithic (even a modular monolithic) system?

The thing that doesn’t seem to be taken into consideration is portability and longevity. These are closely related. One of the things I set as a goal for the school is to support academic portfolios for our students. For example, if a student wants a letter of recommendation from me, it would be really handy to see what they’ve done. Similarly, I remember finding notes from long ago, and old textbooks, etc. None of these systems facilitate learning beyond the rather specific class they are set up for. That rather sucks. Who would turn to this stuff if they were interested in picking up, oh, Calculus later in life. The MIT OpenCourse stuff and iTunes U get the lectures out, so that’s nice, I suppose. Maybe there is stuff out there that transcends the individual instance of a course.

Maybe something built on Google Wave (for portability).

Dunno if I’ll do anything about it beyond writing this post. See the title!


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