We are manning the barricades to defend our Moodle installations from those who would have us adopt an inferior, commercial product. I wrote a short metaphor to explain to our decision makers (who are not familiar with VLEs) why they should stick with Moodle:
Likes are always welcome
I think that is an interesting analogy, which captures some of the points you are trying to make, but I think you have missed something.
A car is just a way to get from A to B. It is a tool you use in a very basic way to do a fairly simple thing. Some cars are sleeker or more reliable than others, but they are all pretty much the same.
In contrast, a classroom is a place where interesting social interactions. If you go into many class-rooms, there will be examples of student's work on the wall, and other personalised features. The inhabitants of that room will have made it, to some extent, a home. Very few people customise their cars.
A contrast to a nice class-room in a school is the kind of sterile environemnt you find if you go on a training course being run in a hotel's conference centre. That is much more sterile. (Hmm, although I am now thinking of an OU summer school I attended at a hotel, where by the end of the 5 days, we had covered the wall of the hotel meeting room with things we had drawn on flip-charts. We had made that a home.)
Anyway, I would say that Moodle encorages teachers to make an (online) home customised for their class, while other, perhaps slicker, commercial producs do not allow in the same way.
And, I think this point is missing from you Mercedes vs Lada comparison, although you make other good points.
Thanks for your point. I hoped to have covered it with the "colours and accessories" part, to point out customisability, but maybe I should throw in something indeed about ownership, something that commercial environments cannot offer.
I have a distaste for automobiles so the anaology is completely lost on me, I am afraid. They are noisy, smelly, dirty, incredibly expensive and totally reliant upon the demonstrated poor judgement of the steerer - who is usually completely ignorant of the laws of physics. When you consider this is a metal box on a metal surface, how much more dangerous can it be?
I also see applications as either useful or not, so far, not a lot has become as useful to me as Moodle.
You have to understand that the story is not about real cars. It just uses the reputation of these two car brands in my country to exemplify the differences in usefulness between the open source Moodle and a proprietary competitor. The point is not whether you like cars or not but whether it becomes clear from the story that, if you needed a car, the Mersus would be by far the better choice. The people who have to make the choice between the two learning environments know next to nothing about these programs, but they do know about cars.
If my story cannot clarify this choice, I have reason to worry.
Serves me right I suppose... Your story is fine Paul, I really did get the point straight away, it is clear and obvious. It is actually a good analogy. It is my sense of humour that is causing you confusion - sorry about that..
I was a professional driver for more than 10 years, and came to understand cars, and really dislike them for all those reasons mentioned and more. I use a car, not because I want to but because I have to. For me, they are all Ladas..
I would suggest the comparison of a home and an office block. My home is noisy, messy at times, can be added to, and was, because I wanted to, and is loved. My office block is functional, it is fixed and souless, a lot of people use it but most of them really dislike it. My home is often filled with music and laughter and colour, my office is dull, colourless and boring. If it wasn't for the people in my office I would be driven crazy by the banality of the place. The difference is, I own my home, I am responsible for it. I cannot own my office, there I am not in control of much. I do what I want in my home because I can, I do nothing but work in my office because I must. I can be inventive, and clever and creative in my home, and be encouraged in doing so. In my office, I am limited by so many factors I can barely breath at times. In the end, I actually do much beter work at home than I do my office. So where would I prefer to be?
In your situation though, this is not much of an analogy - not as good as the cars one, anyway. Cheers..
I think your point about the OU summer school at the hotel is important. I don't think the advantages are tied to the system as much as to the instructor and the culture at the institution.
However, something I find very frustrating about Moodle (and other LMS software) is the lack of persistence from term to term. At a physical school or college building, there are often displays that showcase the work of previous students. Individual instructors don't have to try to save these things in their classroom, or move them around from room to room. There are public spaces where students and guests can see them.
Moodle wants to treat everything as a "course," so if students contribute to a wiki, glossary, or database, for example, those contributions are not carried over to the next time the course is offered without jumping through export/anonymize/import hoops. To showcase other student work outside of a class, we have to bolt on a portfolio or repository system. I think these aspects of Moodle need more thought and development before we can support the claim that Moodle allows instructors and students to make a "home" for learning.
I have noticed a couple of things. But before going into details, my question is, what kind of feedback is helpful to you? I mean, what is the role of the blog in pursuing the decision makers?
Are you going to submit the blog to them and want ideas and comments on how to improve it? Or has it already happened, there is no point in revising the blog?
Or is it a part of a petition or some kind of a public discussion?
Or do you wish a brainstorming session here in moodle.org, the result you are going to present to the decision makers involved?
Thank you for responding and sorry for my belated reply. I was looking for some exposure and new ideas for the analogy in the blog.
The situation is, as it is often, that commercial suppliers target management, which is usually where the money is and not where the expertise lies. Moodle on the other hand is often introduced from the bottom up by the people who have the expertise, but then have to convince management.
As I wrote above, the analogy in the blog article was meant to make the differences between Moodle and the competing commercial solution clear to managers who do not know the particulars of either learning environment.
What has happened, and I still chuckle when I think about it, is that the CEO of the company supplying the commercial VLE in question became aware of the blog article due to the increasing interest it generated. He took offence at the comparison made in the blog and contacted all our managers to complain. In doing so he ensured that everyone in our management was made aware of the issues, which was exactly what I had hoped to achieve with the blog!
Now, all we can hope for is that management will make the right decision with the facts in hand.
I like to use a Lego analogy. Lets suggest that you want a solution that maps to your needs. With a commercial solution it is like building a circle with normal lego where you can only use quite large bricks and it will fit in some areas but not in others and you cannot bend it or make your own bricks. Moodle on the other hand is like Lego Technique where the parts are much smaller and make a much better circle and with a little pulling and pushing it can be bent to fit. Also because it is Open Source you can make your own bits.