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ACS-STAF  January 2005

ACS-STAF January 2005

Subject:

Re: Course Management Systems >> It's all About Support]

From:

Hope Greenberg <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

ACS staff discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 7 Jan 2005 11:01:33 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (59 lines)

re: http://www.campus-technology.com/article.asp?id=10407

What an excellent article!  It outlines clearly and succinctly the "big
picture" issues related to course management systems and provides a
cogent argument in favor of open source systems. Here are my favorite bits:

re: the overlooked importance of front-line support:

   Look at your help desk. “Until you’ve had to sit and listen to irate
   faculty members coming to you, you won’t really understand about
   support,” says Watts. Stress or no, there are two factors about support
   at this level that should be kept in mind in the proprietary/open
   source CMS support debate: 1) Frontline support is the last structure
   to be built for any new technology, and 2) the resources required for
   providing it are seldom, if ever, seriously taken into consideration in
   the product selection decision-making process. Yet because frontline
   support often interacts with larger numbers of individuals than other
   support structures on campus, you’ll want to look carefully at this
   support structure when you weigh the pros and cons of proprietary vs.
   open source support. "


re: the so-called superiority of proprietary systems' support, one that
Tech Services at UVM is no doubt familiar with:

   "One drawback of this model, for schools with access to
   technically knowledgeable and skilled resources, is that the in-house
   developers and systems administrators may be able to identify the
   problem and the appropriate correction, but may be unable to actually
   make the changes due to the lack of access to the proprietary code that
   would be required to implement the fix. The vendors of proprietary
   systems are seldom if ever willing to release any part of the source
   code to their customers, regardless of whatever expertise they may
   possess, because to do so would endanger their control of their
   intellectual property. "


and last:

   "Dollars and sense. Chris Coppola, President of Sakai Commercial
   Affiliate rsmart group also sees the debate in broad strategic terms.
   Under the proprietary model, he says, "So much money is being spent on
   the software that very little is left over for proper installation,
   customization to fit local business practices, training, other staff
   development, etc. In fact, a primary reason technology [in general]
   hasn’t had a larger positive impact on learning is because not enough
   money has been left for the activities that can really make a
   difference."

We've seen this last one again and again, not only with budgetary
dollars but also with less tangible kinds of institutional support. The
decisions get based on the features of any given product with little
planning on how the product will actually be implemented. The
'activities that can really make a difference' are the ones that happen
at the implementation and integration level: the real payoff happens
when faculty and student expectations of a given application are fulfilled.

- Hope

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