I've found that the particular theme of a given post derives from the title. So, you might guess that selecting the title FIRST is a somewhat arduous process. I initially had "Another Brick in the Wall" in my head, but frankly, the overarching themes of paranoia and bleak finality are a bit...much...for a thematic convention here. So, that brought me to the Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, aka David Jones and the classic line "turn and face the strain" in "Changes". Which is exactly what we've done as a community these past few days...
I don't wish to comment on any personnel issues, or reporting structure issues that were discussed, as (a) official announcements should be forthcoming and (b)my journalistic heart knows that writing anything that could be considered libel is just not a good thing :-)Suffice it to say that the key personnel who are the heart and soul of SLN will continue to do Good Works. What seems to be worth talking about is just where we're at now ("standin' at the crossroads.." crooned Robert Johnson), and just where the Hell we're going next.
In order to set a course, pick a direction, and find out who we want to be when we're all growed up requires a decision by a committee. Before we veer off into committees, horses, and camels, I'll note that there is an apparently honest attempt at broad representation across the SUNY landscape. Since it is nearly overwhelmingly executive representation, there was an obvious concern voiced about listening to not only us- the resident Geek Squad- but also the faculty and our students. Whether we'll actually get this level of democratic involvement is an unknown at this stage.
Then there's the matter of the timeline. It seems maddeningly, dangerously short- but you have to stop and consider the alignment of the stars, Cassandra. ESC is on amazingly short timeline to evaluate their RFP responses and come to some decision of their own. Would it surprise any of us, then, if the Administration's need to get off the pot coincided with ESC's timing?
Speaking of ESC- we should all tip our hats to our colleagues for the incredible piece of work that they've accomplished- generating a well thought out, detailed map of all our requirements - and for the work that lies ahead, in evaluating vendor responses (are you guys going to sleep at all during this period?).
And what's my take on where we should go? Ah...all two of you who read this blog have already heard my thoughts. No, I'm not being coy; I've already expressed my thoughts publicly that an open source LMOS could indeed be a viable solution - once it reaches maturity. And I really do think that we should stop trying to teach this pig called Notes to sing/ It's time to find the tool that was intended for our purposes; rather than continuing to try to drive nails with a 2x4, we should be looking for a hammer. Yes, we could try to continue to develop the missing critical functionality, and we probably could keep the current system on life support beyond the projected three years, but would that truly serve our faculty users? Don't they deserve an interface that doesn't force them to learn arcane procedures just to publish their content? Shouldn't we be focusing on helping them *design* effective courses, rather than camouflaging holes in the LMS and writing that off as pedagogical issues (I'm talking about the criminal lack of a test engine here, folks)?
Well, here's my crackpot idea: We all would agree that our revenue stream of asynchronous learning needs a stable platform. We would probably agree that we're still groping the elephant when it comes to developing a systematized approach to blended learning. So, why not take a bi-directional approach? Phase in the new LMS, whatever it may be, for the fully online component. Continue to use Notes in the non-mission critical function of blended and web-enhanced learning. Develop an open source approach that will replace the Notes platform over time. As the open source LMS matures (and one would hopefully agree that noodling around with it in blending is non-destructive testing) we could offer asynch courses on eitherplatform. And everybody wins :-)
Of course, thinking aloud like this obviously demonstrates why X should not be in charge of technical thought leadership for this project:-)
Changing gears here at the end - these times when we can all come together in one place, to compare plans, tactics, annoyances, hopes, dreams, fears- this is the true essence of our community. If for no other reason than this, we should turn around and lock eyes with our Albanian delegation and say "thank you". United we stand, divided we fall. To our brethren late of The Tower, I say - you guys have extreme intestinal fortitude. I've rode the dot com roller coaster through boom and bust, and I've honestly lost count of how many leaders I've seen consigned off to "special assignment" gulags, waiting for their parachutes to deploy. I know what it feels like to walk around under a cloud, not knowing whatmight transpire the next time you set foot in the office. But hang in there, brothers and sisters, people get ready, there's a train a'comin...