Almost the same.

Almost the same.

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Whenever I see somone talk about their brand new LMS, CMS, or collaborative learning product, I tend to be very skeptical. No matter how good it is or how open the architecture is, if it doesn’t have the community built around it, it isn’t worth it. Drupal isn’t powerful because it has so much flexibility to expand into any organization, it is powerful because of the community that supports every single module that is created. Google docs isn’t powerful because of how much collaboration can happen when you share a document, it is powerful because of all of the people at Google and around the world that are using the product and thinking of new uses for it.

I don’t need to see a demo or know how well integrated with our other systems it is. I just want to know who will be there when it breaks. I want to see the wiki where I can add to the learning that I am a part of. I want to know the people in the forum. I want to believe that the learning product I am using will be there tomorrow, not because of how well the company is selling it, but because the community invests enough in it to make sure that it grows and becomes better each day.

So, while I will check out this “open source product”, I am not going to hold my breath because I don’t know the community, because my network hasn’t mentioned it (although, other networks have apparently). No product is worth a lack of community (even blackboard has a community around it, even if it does seem to be self-loathing). So, while I will be open to using something less than community-driven  if I have to, I will say to you, it is only almost the same as a well supported open resource, almost.

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