My head is spinning this morning as I think about how to keep course work organized, relevant, accessible, organized and engaging for my students. I’ve tried numerous platforms out there from free online web 2.0 apps to sponsored education sites and apps. As I migrate my material to different platforms and sites, I feel my frustration mounting. Betas are dropped, apps are modified or commercialized and I’m left scrambling looking for the next best “fit”. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Groundhog Day.
I started using Ning last year because students love social networking. They enjoyed being able to comment on each other’s work and posts. They spent a good deal of time making their own page individualized and personalized by choosing their own page formats, colour schemes; adding videos, photos, and audio of their work. The live chat feature came in handy when I was absent in Boston. I was able to converse in real time with students as they worked on the tasks and video tutorials I had left on the site. I even linked to my Google Docs and calendar. Then Ning commercialized their site and I was lucky enough this year to get a sponsorship from Pearson for a “mini-plan”. Now I can’t create groups, post videos or music, students can no longer use their Facebook account to access the site, and I have to approve every single blog they write. I don’t have 500 dollars from my budget to open this back up to the capabilities that come with a full membership. So I started checking out other sites but then ran into the same sort of problems as these sites worked to monetize their services. It seems like there are roadblocks wherever I go.
I use Google Groups for some of my personal learning networks and for collaboration. Unfortunately, Google is taking out the page and file capabilities this January. I stumbled upon the Google Notebook, which allows for the placement of notes in a linear fashion but also uses labels as cloud tags for those who prefer being hyperlinked. It also linked in with Google Docs and Presentations, but Google took away the sharing capability of Google Notebook and has stopped support for the project.
There’s got to be a working formula some where for education.
(photo courtesy of EIC, Wikimedia Commons)