One of the sad realities of technology in education is that it is becoming increasingly costly for all of the stakeholders. It is costly, financially, to build and maintain a network, to purchase and upgrade devices, to acquire licenses for software, and many other things. It is costly in terms of time, as teachers spend hours learning how new technology works and then need to spend more hours figuring out how to integrate it effectively into their instruction.Technology can also be costly in terms of the amount of instructional time that is spent teaching kids how to use each new tool that is being introduced or finding, logging in, creating profiles, and setting preferences for that new website we just found. It can be costly to kids in terms of opportunity, as we fumble along chasing new things, dabbling in new tools, all the while never getting to deeper, more meaningful use of technology that will actually open doors of opportunity for kids who can actually make technology work for themselves beyond merely being social.
The ever-growing money, time, and opportunity pit
To further widen any gaps that would result from all of the costs involved, there is now a growing market for great things we would want our kids to have in schools. From iPads to touchscreen laptops, media subscriptions to digital textbooks, online learning systems to drill and practice site memberships, there is a long line of entities ready to take a share of the funding that goes to schools–and, perhaps, rightly so. And just as we wander through the retail center or subject ourselves to the bombardment of “related items” on Amazon, we are inundated with an almost infinite list of good things, the sum of which we can not have. Without a clear vision, we can waste a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of opportunity.
Every endeavor into a new tool comes at the expense of something else that isn’t being pursued. Every endeavor involves a tradeoff as well as an investment. And if the investment is mostly financial (which is often the case for the most “user-friendly” tools), we can be in for a rude awakening when the funding dries up, the focus shifts, or the vision changes. People who invest time and energy in using a particular tool can find themselves in a quandary when it suddenly goes away or becomes a paid service. So much of what we try to do or use in education simply isn’t sustainable in any sense of the word.
Moodle is sustainable
But Moodle (iLearn) is just that–sustainable. And it is so for many reasons. For one thing, Moodle is open-source, which means it doesn’t cost our schools any money for the platform itself. That means any teacher, provided the internet is still around and they have a server to host their Moodle site, can use Moodle. That means any student with a connected device in their hands can engage in high-level technology-integrated activities. Rich and poor alike have the same level of opportunity when it comes to Moodle.
Moodle is also sustainable because of its longevity. Long after the funds dry up for the LMS platform or the subscriptions to the fancy sites, or the plug gets pulled on budgets for technology, support or server space, Moodle will remain a viable option. While those of us who have spent all of our time, money, and energy on the tool that’s going away can only sit helplessly staring at our abandoned efforts, those who have put their time, money, and energy into Moodle might just need to find some server space somewhere in the cloud so they can carry on.
We’re all investing in something
As Dearborn Schools’ Director of Media Services and Technology, Mr. Troy Patterson, often says, “We’re all investing in something. Either we’re investing in ourselves or we’re investing in someone else.” We’re either investing our time, money, and energy in ourselves for the sake of student learning, or we’re giving our time, money, and energy for the sake of student learning to someone else. Those who give their resources to someone else are entirely at their mercy. Teachers are used to investing in themselves when it comes to their own practice. They invest in their own advanced degrees, their own professional development workshops. Why should this manner of thinking end when it comes to our teaching materials and data?
Is what we’re investing in going to last? Or are we constantly laying a brand new foundation every year, never building upward? Are we investing in ourselves or are we operating entirely at the mercy of a 3rd party, at risk of having nothing to show after years of work and money spent? Is what you are doing for the sake of student learning in your classroom sustainable? Or is what we’re doing each with every choice we make a further contribution to our own burn-out?
This post is the latest in a years-long series that you can read more about here: 8 Reasons You Need to Get on Board with Moodle (iLearn)