John Curry, a professor of Instructional Technology at Oklahoma State University, listed his top ten tools for learning. What I find very hearting about the list is that so few are actually an enterprise tool sold to educational institutions. The rest are products targeting the general public for nothing specific to learning. How is it that the tools most helpful to pedagogy do not have a pedagogical theorist’s underpinnings?
* Google Reader
* Garage Band
* Google Scholar
* Blogs (in general)
My theory on why educators and students prefer the consumer internet to enterprise solutions is the way they are created.
Enterprise solutions generally start with a political and bureaucratic process resulting with a requirements document that has too much in it. The company works to meet those requirements, and by nature its delivered late and does half what was promised and typically doesn’t really function for a good while. If they deliver the contracted item, they don’t make any more money if people actually like/use/come back to the site.
The consumer internet starts with a couple of dudes who put up something sticky and then use comprehensive user data to build a coherent user experience around a handful of major features. They have to pay attention to user activation and retention to survive. In fact, they must build something so compelling that users like it so much they go refer other people to the site. What this should mean to education and educators is that consumer internet companies are a much more capable model of software development to build something that’s nice to use and is always up.