21 May 2013

More Moodle vs. Schoology; Innovation vs. Stagnation

Looks like I hit a nerve with some people over the criticisms of Schoology. I stand by all of them. It is not a sufficient resource to build courses to create an educational experience or offer blended and online instruction. Design matters. Moodle allows for engaging design options in ways that many other systems do not. In addition, the Open Source movement will only increase over time even as new and flashy options enter the market.

Here's what really bothers me: People maintain that Schoology is more user-friendly or intuitive. Now, I disagree with that fact that Moodle is not but let's just assume for the sake of argument that it is more intuitive. So what? It doesn't do some of the most important things that one could do with Moodle to turn curriculum into something interesting and engaging. There are two reasons why the adoption of Schoology over Moodle matters to me...

First, and this is the most important reason, students are worth it. They're worth the extra couple of hours it spends for me to add interesting design elements, auto-linked course glossaries, and better navigation. What you're saying if you want to go with Schoology is that you want to take the easy path because it's simpler for you. There is probably no way at this point that I could be convinced that it can offer students a richer educational experience if they are in blended and online settings. Students interacting with the platform more than they'll see their teacher need extra supports built into the curriculum. Buck up, learn how to create a Page and an Assignment in Moodle and learn how to embed a few things. From there you're only a couple hours away from incorporating significant improvements to course navigation.

Second, if a district or organization chooses Schoology over Moodle they are reaching out to their laggards and not their innovators. They are effectively shutting innovators off from the ability to create some incredible resources just to placate a minority that will likely not use the tool effectively anyway. Should an organization choose Moodle than all those laggards have to do is drag/drop their (what must be incredibly amazing) documents into Moodle in one motion and their course is finished. The innovators can spend the extra time to create rich and meaningful experiences for students.

The adoption of innovation is a real and predictable thing. The go-getters in the institutions should be the ones we strive to serve and eventually others will climb on board once they see the new way of doing things working. It should never go the other way around. Think about where you want to be in a year, two years or five from now and what tools will help you get there. As I learned from my favorite book Dune, Fight the temptation to choose a clear, safe course. That path leads ever down into stagnation.