Thursday, May 22, 2008

Keeping it 'In House"

I was at an excellent meeting yesterday, where computer contacts around the district are taking a very business oriented tool, the Microsoft SharePoint website program, and applying it to education. The new version of SharePoint has more features that mean less use of 3rd party services and software. For example, I like bubbleshare for making online picture slideshows. But once you put the photos out into the public space, then you give up control of them. They are the "property" of the third-party host. Third party stuff, (like this blog) is fine I think if you are an adult, however whenever possible schools should do their internet projects within direct control of the districts.

If my district didn't have SharePoint websites, would I use some other third-party web 2.0 host for student work? Yes, I would. It is important to teach kids how to be good digital citizens, and I think they should learn about this in their schools. In fact I still use some 3rd party hosts like VoiceThread for kids projects, however I go to great lengths to ensure the privacy of the student is protected, and that parents are making informed choices when they give permission for their students to do these kinds of projects. And by continuing to use these new and exciting applications, my district is responding by adding more functionality to our SharePoint websites. My two bits - keep internet projects in house when possible, but don't stop moving forward.

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