The decision: Build vs. buy Posted on August 20th, 2009 by Michael B. Horn

In my last blog, one of the reasons schools cited that they did not offer online courses for their students is that they don’t have the expertise to create online courses. To this point, there is a good article in EducationWeek that talks about the factors involved in building vs. buying online courses for professional development. You can read it here.

Some takeaways are that building high-quality online professional development courses is often quite difficult, so it’s actually more cost effective to buy a ready-made product, the director of EdTech Leaders Online, Barbara Treacy, says. The cases where building one’s own course makes more sense and is indeed cheaper occur generally when the need is so local or customized that an off-the-shelf option just wouldn’t exist. There are more nuances, however, so read the article in full.

In my own travels, I am constantly amazed over how many people want to reinvent the wheel in a way that isn’t really that different and thus there really is no need to do so. Florida Virtual School created its courses at a time when there were really no other content options out there. For online schools and districts seeking online options today, that’s just no longer the case.

– Michael B. Horn

Filed under: Education Blog

3 Responses to “The decision: Build vs. buy”
Ellen Fishman, on August 23rd, 2009 at 7:57 am Said:
“In my own travels, I am constantly amazed over how many people want to reinvent the wheel in a way that isn’t really that different and thus there really is no need to do so.”

Yes, it is quite amazing to see others’ actions that seem illogical from your perspective. Adaptation is one of the factors that is basic to a changing environments, yes?

So animals and we are animals follow set patterns of behavior that are familiar and have worked in the past,
even when they seem contrary to others.

Yet people adapt slowly ornot at all, as you have seen.

I applaud your work, Michael , however if all this were simple we wouldn’t be in the mess we are.

Are you familiar with Systems Data Model ?
It takes a business model and applies it to situations.
Schools are businesses, yes, but the human factor is a large part of it and can’t be plugged in such a model as easily, no ?

Best,
Ellen

admin, on August 23rd, 2009 at 9:57 am Said:
Good point. There’s no doubt about it. Just thought I’d raise awareness on this point for people grappling with this at least. 🙂

Sal Pellettieri, on April 8th, 2011 at 11:33 am Said:
I agree. I have spoken to many K12 schools and universities and a lot of them have cobbled together their own tech software. It just makes me scratch my head, why would you want to build software that needs to be maintained by an IT staff when there are better cloud solutions? The other sad thing is that many of these systems look like they were built in 1997 – they’re ugly and cumbersome.


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