Glen Blalock forwarded a link to an interesting little article in the CHE, “Frustrated With Corporate Course-Management Systems, Some Professors Go ‘Edupunk’.” The article is quite short and there are a number of good links, so no point in summing them all up here. Basically, “edupunk” is the same as what a lot of people in the computers and writing community have been doing for a long time, which is by-passing university run CMS rules in favor of “do it yourself” (DIY), free, and/or open source options.
Interestingly enough, I think I’ve kind of come back around to the value of the university sponsored CMS.
Don’t get me wrong– I’m all for these Edupunkers, and it seems to me that if you’re teaching courses like the ones I teach and like the ones most of my colleagues in the computers and writing world teach, it makes sense to incorporate some “real” web and/or Web 2.0 (whatever that is) writing situations into the mix. Keeping the whole thing in a CMS is a little too stagnant for me, and for most of the classes I teach, it just makes sense to use tools like blogs, wikis, photo sites like Flickr, Google docs, YouTube or other video sites, etc. Why use some watered-down CMS version of this software when students can use open and better sites for free? Edupunk in this sense is about keepin’ it real.
On the other hand, the problem with doing all of a class punk/DIY style is that you really do have to do the whole thing yourself to make it work. And I guess the hard thing to figure out is where cost of doing it yourself becomes too much: too much time, too much money (if you have to lease server space) and I guess too much anxiety at the responsibility of it all. If emuonline goes down, that’s their problem and they will hear holy heck from me and my students until it’s fixed. But if the site I am using with Blogger or on stevendkrause.com or some other site goes down, well, then that’s my problem, and I don’t like creating any more problems for myself than absolutely necessary.
So I like my Edupunk teaching tools, but I know I still have to have my pop for the masses teaching tools as well.