Saturday, December 5, 2009

If Life Gives You Lemons

No sooner have I stopped ranting about Delicious pulling the rug from under educators by changing their sign-up procedures, which effectively barred their use in schools, than I've got a new issue to get all hot under the collar about. 

It was reported yesterday that Google had acquired AppJet I read the report with mild interest last night, not realising the full implication of this. Logging onto Twitter this morning there was no missing it - Google had murdered Etherpad No new pads could be created and existing pads would disappear at the end of March. Yet another tool I had introduced this term and written into SOWs had gone - and yet another rewrite ( and I hadn't actually got round to the last one ). Maybe I would have been better sticking to the National Strategy SOWs. 

I've tried out Google Wave with @whatedsaid and others and it was fun but very confusing and the thought of trying to use it with a class of 30 year 9 students just doesn't bear thinking about in its current manifestation. Added to which I do not have any invites, just an account so not an option.  

Twitter as usual has been full of suggestions for a replacement, Dabbleboard and Twiddla I had come across before, Scribblar and BeWeeVee were new to me. There is already a plan in place for an Edupad collaborate development for a replacement.

Early investigations indicate that there may be an issue with BeWeeVee as it needs Silverlight - may require a re-image of all the curriculum PCs. Concerns have been raised the the graphics content of Dabbleboard and Twiddla slow the response time which is an issue when using in the classroom. I need to go through a systematic evaluation as I did recently to find a replacement for Delicious.

Bigger issue is the disruption to students in having to move them from one application to another. My students appear to much prefer certainty to uncertainty - they want me to tell them what to do and not change what I say.

Which got me thinking. Am I not supposed to be getting students to think for themselves and be able to evaluate different applications? Maybe this is an opportunity to give my students a chance to evaluate applications for themselves and decide which application is the best to use in the classroom. It might also help them to appreciate that they need to be adaptable and accept change.

So tomorrow I need to put together a lesson which takes my students through the same thought processes that I've gone though with Delicious and Etherpad and will doubtless go through numerous times in the future with other applications. I will get them to try and set up a second Delicious account so that they can see the issue for themselves and then get them to compare the functionality of Delicious and Diigo. Next I will set them the challenge of finding a replacement for Etherpad - they can use the suggestions I've come across and / or find other online collaboration tools. We can then have a debate on which application becomes the 'official' replacement ( or whether we need to have a single recommended application ).

At the risk of appearing very Pollyanna tonight - If life gives you lemons - make lemonade.

1 comment:

  1. Woke up this morning to find that AppJet have backed down:-

    Etherpad to stay online until open source replacement developed. Excellent news and shows that some organisations do listen to their customer base ( even if they have to be given a bit of nudge to do so )