Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Logo Hampered Ontologies

I'm beat after another long session battering about the pros and cons of the big three Logo Hampered Ontologies.

Yes, 'Logo Hampered Ontologies'.

Ok, so it's an anagram for: 'Moodle, Google, Sharepoint'. But it's apt. And it's been consuming me.

The short of it: me and a few folks at school are thinking about which of the three will best serve the needs of teachers and students in a 21C setting.

Each have strong points. Each have weak points.

Moodle is 'made' for education. But it's definitely a work-in-progress and may have scalability issues. I also feel like it's sort of set up as a digital version of a 20th century classroom (i.e. it does tests and quizzes really well, but how well does it integrate with multimedia and social networking?)

Google Apps for Ed has all the parts for free -- and the sites are housed on the Cloud; but 'Sites' is pretty clunky (even compared to other free site-building services like Weebly and Wix) and there's quite a learning curve (especially with Wave).

Sharepoint is solid in its own way, but its dropboxes and calendars pale in comparison to Web 2.0 alternatives. And I'm just not convinced that its wiki or blog functions can touch dedicated sites like Wikispaces, Blogger, and WordPress. I've also had so much difficulty running 3rd party ware on MS browsers (and long since given up), that I just don't have much faith in the accessibility and flexibility of Sharepoint. But I may just be out-of-touch with what MS has been developing.

I'd really like to know what you all have to say about these Logo Hampered Ontologies.

What have you used? What do you use? What are the pros and cons and if you were the one making the call, which way would you go?

Looking forward to your responses; and please forward this on to folks who can extend the discussion; I really want to get an idea of what people's experiences are with these three monsters.


  1. Given a choice, I'd go with Google.

    Moodle is tough. High learning curve and its clunky.

    Same is true with Google. But..

    Google has all kinds of options: blog, wiki (kind of), docs, email, voice, search, and on.

    I'm not sure about Google Apps for Education, but with a regular account, students and teachers own the content. A student can take all the work with them from K to post graduate. Moodle is closed within a course. Its there and no where else.

    That is the biggest selling point for me in favor of Google.

    I haven't used Sharepoint and can't comment one way or another.

  2. why are you not even considering edmodo?

  3. I am part of team of 5 teachers who are using Moodle and Google Apps extensively in the classroom. You are absolutely right that Moodle is geared towards the 20th century model. However, it is a fantastic tool to use as the backbone of a course. In our team, we took the curriculum, lesson plans, and multiple formative assessments and mashed them into one entity using Moodle. We generally do not add assignments that go beyond the knowledge and understanding levels of Blooms. This allows the students to gain background knowledge and move at their own pace. It also frees the teachers to work one to one with the students who need it.

    For the higher order thinking tasks, we use a program called Project Foundry. It facilitates the planning and coordinating of projects through a constructivist approach. We have only been at it for three months and are already seeing some very interesting connections. For example, one student took what was to be a project on the environmental impacts of agriculture and started drawing connections between industrial beef production and the holocaust. It was great to see, the conversations that came of it were deep and enlightening. The most amazing part was that this all came from a 14 year old. Foundry also has the ability to bring people from outside the school into the learning environment. It is not serendipitous like most web 2.0 tools but it definitely has its benefits.

    Where Moodle and Project Foundry facilitate, Google Apps is used for the actual work. Students use Apps to collaborate and complete projects. Although we have not gotten this far yet, we’re also hoping to use Sites to make personal portfolios that the students can share.

  4. We use SharePoint wiki at work for our development team. If you're working in IE it's easy to use, but in Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc you have to do direct html input which is fine for me, but has been intimidating for others (especially non developers).

    There seems to be a pretty steep learning curve for the SharePoint admin controls as well. The interface really wasn't like any paradigm I've ever used, though a lot of it was just learning the SharePoint way of doing things. Either way, it took us much longer than it should have to get the wiki up and running.

    Once it was up, it's performed well, though, without crashing or running slowly... and it faithfully sends me the digest of wiki changes each week. I can't say I've done anything with the blog features, but that's my experience with the wiki.

  5. Here's a recent article that talks about lots of the considerations of current situations, not the future,yet.

  6. I think the answer (like with most in edu) is that you use what is best fit for purpose?

    Google Apps integrates with Moodle nicely - you can get single login across both systems, and display things like your mailbox or calendar(s) inside Moodle, automatically synchronise user accounts, etc.

    Trying to use Google Apps for the things that Moodle excels at is an exercise in deep frustration, and vice versa. You can have both!!


  7. Hi, Although I can't comment directly, @mikeherrity of http://sharepointineducation.com/ is an excellent contact re. sharepoint


  8. Google have some great and easy-to-use apps but I'm getting a bit worried about their increasing world domination tendencies. They're everywhere. Should we place all our educational resources in their sphere as well?
    See interesting post on Tech n'marketing, http://technmarketing.com/cellphone/how-chrome-os-changes-everything/

  9. Big fan of single sign on and moodle and google apps tick that box, sharepoint proves to be a bit more difficult and costly.

    I would say that Google Apps is more relevant in Primary Education because it quickly and easily ticks boxes that certain Microsoft products used to tick and is a cost saver and improves accessibility, all in one tasty swoop. Primary Schools tend to want instant return on investment where as FE/HE seem to be more patient.

  10. Why not just compare Asia, cotton and the spaghetti monster? It seems just as relevant.

  11. I've never used Sharepoint so I can't comment on that.

    Moodle is good and has lots of features. The one feature that I feel sets it apart from Google Apps is the ability to see what students even checked the site (login). There is also a high learning curve for new users (both teachers and students).

    I think Google has much more to offer between Sites, Blogger, Gmail, Calendar, and Docs. You can do everything that can be done with Moodle, but easier. In a few minutes I can have a class web site and blog set up and with in an hour or so, I can have them up and running with assignments, links, discussions and more. I can use Docs to create and share presentations and documents, and I can use spreadsheet to create surveys and online quizzes.

    If I had to choose, I'd go with Google. Our district has Moodle set up, but the Ed Tech dept. is look into dumping Microsoft and using Google Apps.

    I have lots of teachers who wanted to set up sites and blogs and within a 2 hour PD session we had them up and running without a problem using Google.

  12. I don't think it's possible to rely just on one piece of software to prepare students. I wish it were that easy though.

    I have a lot of experience with Moodle, and despite it's qualities, it seems antiquated. It's a great program, but like someone already pointed out, contrary to the claims that it's "easy to use, easy to train", it's usually neither of those things.

  13. We use Sharepoint at my school, and sicne we all use Outlook as well, I actually find the Sharepoint calendars to be incredibly useful. Students of mine can subscribe to my calendar and get each day's entry delivered to their Outlook inbox, and I can see the calendars for each of my classes when in my Outlook as well. This year I've been using the calendars more and more, and the ability to add documents to a calendar has been great. At this point, I'm considering having my students use my Sharepoint calendar exclusively as the tool to navigate my class, and just keeping the document libraries for myself. I've used the blog functions as well to simulate a Facebook environment for a student project, and that worked out very well too.

    However, I have to agree that Sharepoint has a steep learning curve, and this is coming from someone with a full-time awesome tech coordinator, and I have a fair share of curiousity and willingness to mess around in the program too. Not something you can put people at and just let them loose.


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