I want to go back to extolling the use of Google supplied software. But as I do that this morning, I must note that Blogger is having some problems. Here is the known issues page. And I'm having a problem with the comments link. It seems that with IE it works fine, but with Firefox it gives a page not found error. Aaarrrrgghh!!! I suppose this is a reminder to all of us that this is the nature of the technical beast. There will be problems. I hope they resolve this one.... soon.
Ok, now that is out of my system, I want to go back and talk about it as useful. Why? Because it is and because I'm quite sure there are limits to what the campus can do and over the next couple of years those limits will become more and more obvious. So even if I'm wrong about using these "free to the end user" services, that we might outsource rather than internally supply and get smart about what we do with each path is necessary. We will not be able to internally supply on all dimensions and users will get frustrated by that. They need realistic alternatives that satisfy.
Suppose we talk about student Web publishing. There is a lot of discussion about ePortfolios as of late and in my view some confusion about where Web publishing starts and ePortfolios ends. But it is clear, if you try to actually run a blog with Blogger, that the blog can readily be used as an annotation device and the content, which would reside in Netfiles, something the campus continues to support, can be linked from the blog. There is no trouble doing this. And if you use the Blog profile area to say ... look at February for a description of the main contents.... you can get a lot of the ePortfolio function. You can't bring in instructor comments this way. So be it. There are issues with that. So this is a poor man's approach to ePortfolios using software that the campus doesn't support to complement what it does. We are going to need more of this type of thinking.
If I were teaching a class of 30 or less, I could use the Groups tool, email (which the campus supplied) and my own clever use of Excel and we'd have a pretty good online component of the class. What would be sacrified? Not pedagogy. I'd violate the campus information security policy. Can you send the grade on a homework via email? We're definitely not supposed to do that. But if the campus doesn't have the resources is that really the most important priority to preserve?