NB: Opinion ahead; proceed with caution 😉
I have a wonderful colleague, Sian Meikle, Director of Information Technology for the University of Toronto Libraries.
Sian uses a wonderful meme – “tool monoculture” – the idea that there is a one-size-fits-all technology culture.
I think this is a brilliantly descriptive meme for the state of educational technology today, especially around the traditional Learning Management System and its ilk. Historically, of course, the LMS falls into this category, but increasingly we are seeing other tools being “enhanced” with new features and functionality on top of what may have once been a really nice, purpose-built solution for a specific need or function (perhaps in an attempt to become yet another LMS?).
It’s easy enough to find evangelists for the shrink-wrapped “tool monoculture.” But schools and educational technologists (myself sometimes included) also fall too easily for the shinny all-inclusive approach, in the name of “faux efficiency” or some other false technogod.
What is the alternative? Well, standards-based interoperability is the alternative, simply put. At least for the schools. And I would posit also for vendors, who could increase their market share by actually developing modular, standards-based, interoperable solutions, rather than trying to extend the (non-standards-based) “tool monoculture.”
I think I’ll get off my high horse (for now), but mostly I just wanted to give a shout-out to Sian for introducing the meme “tool monoculture” into my vocabulary! :