One of the techs in school today asked me about whether or not we would be moving to Office 2007 in the near future. I had no idea about whether or not we as a district would do that, but I immediately loaded the machine in front of me with Zoho. Our conversation then shifted to how reliable these web-based applications applications are at the current time. Like most districts, the struggle with cost v. performance is one that is constantly bandied about, and I have no information regarding the cost of such a move, I can only imagine that running something like Zoho, or OpenOffice, could have cost benefits.
The sword has two edges, as they say, because my experience even today showed exactly what Steve referred to in his post. Even something as reliable as Google Video caused me hiccups today as I tried to load a video over a fairly fast connection. Until our confidence is boosted to the point where we can rely without worries on web-applications, we will have more doubters than champions.
Yet, I can’t stop grinning when I watch that Zoho Notebook Video that is being passed around. Imagine telling a student that there is no format to follow when taking notes. “Just pull in whatever you are comfortable with–audio, video, picture, draw it freehand–whatever gets you plugged in to the information.” The power of such an application to be so all encompassing, and yet not live natively on your machine blows me away, and I am giddy at the possibility at getting my hands on it. Howard Gardner might have to add a few categories to his intelligences just to keep up with this push.
So what am I going to do? Use it all, naturally. Students and their needs don’t fit squarely into neat little pictures (as an aside, I love the title of Brian Crosby’s blog Learning is Messy). Just as we ask our teachers to differentiate their lessons to accomodate various learning styles and heterogeneous levels, I think we shouldn’t approach this web-based, software-based question with blinders. Once you get past the wow factor, you have to find what works the best and exploit it.
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