Like gluttonous kids in a candy store, exploring with toothy excitement the depths of the shiny candies in the jar at eye level, educators are rallying around a simple message – “ALL THE CANDY YOU CAN PULL OUT OF THE JAR–FREE!” Yet, the sad truth is that the candy jar of Web 2.0 tools has a narrow mouth a full hand can’t fit through, and someone has to pay the bill for the candy devoured…even if it is the “parents” (or network admins) who must “foot the bill” for clean-up and cavity eradication.

The biggest draw in the Candy Jar? Cloud Computing a la “absolute good,” which in the minds of those starving for real food, is quite simply not good–or bad–at all. No thought is given to the lack of security in cloud computing solutions, solutions colleges and universities (like Yale) have cast aside as junk. Consider their perspective:

“People were mainly interested in technical questions like the mechanics of moving, wondering ‘Could we do it?’ ” he said. “But nobody asked the question of ‘Should we do it?’ ”

Fischer said concerns about the switch to Gmail fell into three main categories: problems with “cloud computing” (the transfer of information between virtual servers on the Internet), technological risks and downsides, and ideological issues.

Google stores every piece of data in three centers randomly chosen from the many it operates worldwide in order to guard the company’s ability to recover lost information — but that also makes the data subject to the vagaries of foreign laws and governments, Fischer said. He added that Google was not willing to provide ITS with a list of countries to which the University’s data could be sent, but only a list of about 15 countries to which the data would not be sent.

 Colleague–and candy afficionado–Dan Rezac points out the following:

The Cloud is an absolute good, that the very idea of an open Internet that is available to everyone, does not discriminate, is not exclusionary, and allows information to grow and be exchanged without walls or economic status will further support a society of collaboration, sharing, and participation. Let children sign up for any school they desire, and let technology be their savior here, not their virus or…Trojan Horse.

Drilling for oil is also an absolute good–for the businessmen involved, the workers who make a living from it, the tourist industry that gains some money, but when something goes wrong–and it inevitably does because we all fall short of…perfection–letting people follow their desires IS cause for concern.

It’s clear that Candy Jar advocates, er, I mean, Cloud Computing advocates have missed the point. It’s not that the open internet isn’t a worthwhile end in itself. It’s not that Moodle–or any course management system–fails to live up to their desires for an open learning environment. Everyone knows GoogleApps for Education, Moodle offer different solutions to perceived and real problems schools have.

The fundamental goals of schools today, by their very nature, express a different concept of how children and teachers should be approaching learning and teaching. It’s not to say that one is evil or as sinister as a Sith Lord cloaked in shadows, or as good as a Jedi Master wrapped in self-righteous, controlled emotion and sensitivity to the plight of the hungry and the oppressed.

What we have is a simple lack of understanding. The question isn’t, “if there was no Moodle, we would have easy access to Cloud Computing and CourseClouds and all that vaporous nonsense, right?” Rather, the question is, “If there were no Moodle, what would be your favorite brand of chalk and chalkboard?”

To really get insight into what school teachers in some districts–like Texas and Oklahoma–face, you have to listen to insidious dark whispers of technology directors who protect us all, but especially those gluttonous children from eating too much candy, running rampant like ravenous rats in the corn.

Cloud computing? CourseCloud? Moodle? Yes, say these words but then, in the still of the night, remember the Man behind the counter, his smile too chilling to forget, his rapacious expression of greed too frightening to recall. An absolute good? In whose hands would you want your future, the Corporations eager to capture your data, or the tech director you work with every day, who labors constantly on your behalf?


Image Sources:
Allanon and Flick –

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosurep