"Miguel," asked one of the teachers, "we're trying to decide if we want to upgrade to Moodle 2.2.x from Moodle 1.9.x or just switch to something else."
"Are you considering Project Share?" I asked, since the session we were both waiting to go into was Kristy Vincent's smackdown between Moodle and Project Share (though Kristy did her best to be unbiased, Moodle won easily).
"I'm not sure. We've looked at it and it's not that great. What do you think?"
"While some folks like Project Share, it will take a few more development cycles to get it to where it needs to be." I paused for a moment, allowing the detailed objections from my team and others against Project Share trundle by in my mind. The conversation really wasn't about either Moodle or Project Share, but rather, required us to take a step back and ask, What is it these teachers really need to accomplish? Unfortunately, I was distracted by my own work to get ready for my after-lunch workshop.
"Have you thought about using a web-based, cloud-based solution like Edmodo or Schoolology?" I inquired. "I don't know enough about them, but lots of folks appear to like them," as I remembered a recent twitter conversation where someone claimed that if they had a choice between Moodle, Edmodo, Schoolology, they would start with Schoolology. The attractiveness of not having to host your own content, manage servers, spend a lot of serious time developing content can be compelling for educators.
"No, we're not sure what to do."
As the time came for us to enter the next workshop room, I regret the conversation came to an abrupt end, and I was left feeling that I'd done a poor job at providing them with the guidance they needed. I should have had a more definitive response; as one colleague pointed out to me, "Miguel, you don't have to KNOW the answer to everything." Of course not, but I should know how to go about finding the answers and help others with that process!
Later in the week, in the Exhibit Hall, I stumbled across Collaborize Classroom, which appears to offer online forums and survey tools, as well as content embedding, all for no-cost. "How can you offer this for free? Could you answer in two minutes?" I asked.
"We can offer this for free," responded the rep, "because we have other funding sources that allows us to make these resources available to education at no charge." I wanted to dig deeper on the response, yet my two minute limit to his response had me moving on with the promise to investigate more.
The conversation highlighted how little time I've spent exploring wholly cloud-based tools aside from Moodle, Project Share, Sakai, and Instructure's Canvas. Time to remedy that.