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Platform Agnosticism

21 Jul

One of the hardest decisions a teacher needs to make these days is which digital platform to use. For some, school districts or the school itself may have forced a decision by selecting a particular Learning Management System. For others, given a free choice, the choice itself may present a bit of a nightmare. I think I have an account on just about every digital platform known to man, and I have dabbled in most of them at some stage or the other.

moodleAt my school the choice has largely come down to three platforms: Edmodo, Moodle and Google. Each of these has some very strong features, and some weaknesses and the school itself upholds a policy of platform agnosticism. My personal preference is for Moodle because it is so strong at managing the whole process of electronic submission and grading, and has peer assessment modules and badges and can generally handle just about any educational function you might wish for. Its affordance value is thus very high. However, it has a fairly steep learning curve, and this can be problematic. Many of our teachers have gone for Edmodo, and I can see the benefits of this in terms of ease of use, although for me the platform is seriously light on features. Google has recently burst onto the scene at our school, and is garnering some support. Students seem to enjoy using any of these platforms, but clearly with different teachers using different platforms, there is a need for a school portal allowing students to link to different class resources from a single entry point. This also helps brand the school’s e-learning, and if done intelligently can deliver a seamless experience for students and parents

I don’t see any benefit in forcing teachers to use any particular platform. Teachers really need to use whatever platform they are comfortable with. Different subject disciplines have different needs and technology offers different affordances in different contexts. The only logical approach then is to encourage a variety of platforms, and run a strong portal.

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