My Thoughts on Project Share
October 24, 2011 § 2 Comments
To be fair, I did kind of thrust myself (and my opinion) into this debate without being asked, and I pulled a classic troll move of just dropping a response and leaving, so I deserve what I got. And I do see Tim’s point that at least the state is trying to provide something. I get that, and I understand how Project Share could be a potential gold mine for people who don’t have any form of collaborative space in their district. I get that.
What I don’t get is why the state felt the need to pour money into something that wasn’t being used by (it seems) ANYONE in K-12, something that was proprietary, something that wasn’t free or open source.
I don’t work at the state level, and I wasn’t in on those meetings, so I can’t begin to understand the hows or whys of decisions made at TEA. I have no idea if they consulted anyone at TCEA, or at any districts about what might work best for districts around the state. To me, a logical decision would have been to invest the money in a statewide Moodle system since, from my limited interaction with tech folks throughout the state, it seems like that is what people who are using online courses are using to deliver them. It’s free, it’s got a huge support community, and a lot of the tech folks in the state are already familiar with it.
From my perspective, on the ground, at the campus level, I can tell you this: we already have too many things for teachers to log in to and remember a password for. We have our network (which, fortunately is tied to our web page system and Eduphoria), our email system (which in my district is not tied to the network login, but that’s a whole ‘nuther post), CSCOPE for curriculum, Gradespeed. Now, add yet another system in Project Share on top of that.
Have we gotten so spoiled that we must insist that if a service provided by the state doesn’t meet our EXACT needs (it isn’t Moodle!), we, like a bunch of little teenage girls will badmouth it, not play with it, and ignore it?
And I think the answer to that is, shouldn’t we expect that if something is coming from the state that it DOES meet our needs? Shouldn’t we expect that the state would try to gather some input from people around the state about what those needs are before they try to meet them? Were any of you contacted by TEA asking what you needed in an online courseware system? Were any of you invited into that conversation? If the answer is yes, then I apologize…I obviously pegged the state wrong. However, I haven’t heard anyone, in any of these conversations saying that the state asked what they needed, and they evaluated several different systems to make sure the needs of the teachers and students were met.
I’ve mentioned before about the training session I sat in on where I heard the trainer say, “It’s like a combination of Facebook, Twitter, and Moodle but not quite as good as all of those,” and me sitting there wondering, well then, why would we use it over those things? The other thing that was overheard in that session was from someone from Epsilen saying (out loud to the room), “The state wants to see teachers in the system so it will continue to be funded.”
Call me cynical, but to me, that just sounds shady. I have a problem using something just so it can continue to be funded.
I’m not against trying to use it, and I’ll gladly support our teachers if they want to use it. In fact, I was one of the first ones in our district to suggest Project Share for student use, because I want to see if it meets the needs of our teachers and students.
But as they say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” and my first impression of Project Share wasn’t great. It’s going to take some work to win me over.