Yesterday I spent the day at a Microsoft “briefing” about what they are calling their “Learning Gateway Framework.” (You’d think their marketers could come up with a better name than that…) It’s a suite of tools built around their Class Server and SharePoint products that are pretty amazing. It’s SIF compliant which means it could plug right into our Student Information System and deliver some pretty interesting tools to teachers and students.
A couple things particularly struck me. The presenters used the “C” word a lot, as in collaboration, which didn’t surprise me since SharePoint is based on the idea of pulling people together to collaborate on projects. But the other “C” word that I heard a few times was content, specifically as in recognizing teachers as becoming content creators. I don’t think they even realized it, but at some points it was if they were describing a content wikiland only not quite as open. Teachers creating learning objects, publishing them to shared spaces, pushing them to individual students, allowing them to be amended by other collaborators with changes getting tracked…and much more. It got kinda scary at points.
The most interesting to me was what they call SharePoint Portal which could take all of the people (teachers and students) in my SIS, created web spaces for them, connect them to each other based on the classes they’re teaching/taking, allow for the creation of “Web Parts” which are basically XML-fed modules you can easily import to your space…it was pretty amazing stuff. No blogging piece, and nothing that I would call a portfolio piece, but from a teacher/info management/classroom communication standpoint, it was pretty impressive.
Ah, yes, but it’s Microsoft…