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Saturday, 22 August 2009

Economies of Scale?

Image of man chasing after software disc from MS ClipArtCongratulations are in order to the NZ Ministry of Education for their brave decision to provide an impressive Software Agreement for the next three years. Click to see announcement.

Cynics may suggest that in providing something 'for free' it creates a lock-in which is hard to resist. Of course, as the statement says, "Schools will still be free to use any product they wish to. A number of schools are using open source software or browser based alternatives and they will continue to have this choice." But, as the graphic attempts to illustrate, 'Who wouldn't chase after free software?'

The whole point for e-Portfolio watchers, as I referred to before, see post - 'A Common Approach?, is that I am impressed with Local Authorities, Districts, States or even whole countries that see the benefits of the economies of scale and are willing to take up the challenge.

Again, some will be aware of the far-sighted vision of those in Minnesota who established a State-wide free e-Portfolio facility for all residents. This has proved without doubt that, without the 'holy grail' of perfect interoperability, eFolio is the best solution for portability or transition that anyone has thought possible.

In the UK, despite all our impressive programmes for 'Home Access' and a 'Digital Britain' the Government's present approach to e-Portfolios is particularly tardy. Yes, individual schools are developing their own in-house e-Portfolios and we have some good work going on in the careers service, 'Connexions'. However, what with 35 or so VLE suppliers offering various attempts at e-Portfolio solutions and a few commercial free-standing systems, it would appear that 'everybody does that which is right in their own eyes.'

The point of this post, therefore, is to ask if UK readers in particular agree with my proposition that whole-school or Local Authority-wide provisions of an e-Portfolio system such as eFolio, which is both Lifelong and Lifewide, is the logical solution. Economy of scale is essential at the present time. I just wonder when our mandarins will wake up to this fact!

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