Today was another useful day at Treks Explore. Though, at the end of the day, I'm thinking of how much technology is always changing and improving, which is great for teaching and learning. The downside for this is that using these online technologies will require constantly changing our courses and constant upgrading of our skills in order to use them effectively and be "up to date". This is a large time investment, which is daunting on top of research/administrative responsibilities.
I spent part of the morning getting help in trying to see how to switch my class platform from Ning (which, while a great site, had a failed business model, and is going to a paid site) to a new site. Maybe www.grouply.com, or www.grou.ps. While they look promising, I don't have enough time to switch now and am clinging to ning for the time being. Then we had a long discussion about the switch to Google Apps at the U, which has a lot of promise and is exciting, but also will involve a time investment (and also worries about what will be "lost" in transition). Finally, in the afternoon we saw an impressive WebVista site, which has had so much work put into it and is quite elaborate and has so much thought put into helping students learn. I would have loved to take statistics this way. But the technology is now outdated and also doesn't have many newer Web 2.0 features that students probably expect, and there will be another large time investment for the instructor when she has to switch it all over to Moodle.
I've seen that myself. I taught an online class in 2001, and then taught the same class again in 2006. Everything changed completely in that time frame. Now that I'm teaching it again, it again is a new world.
Austin said to me today that switching platforms makes us smarter! While that may be true in the long run, it seems a bit overwhelming (and almost futile) to me today.