Vickie, I think if you are trying to cut costs in the beginning you
need to make sure you consider web-based products, not software based
products. Web based just require you to create an account online, all
information can be accessed through any computer that has internet
access. There doesn't need to be a server, or tech support as the
system is all hosted on the web. All you need to do is either login
(if you would like something password protected) or type a url in the
Two basic forms of communication should be considered. The live chat,
and the forum based chat. All can be found free or cheaply by doing a
search on the net. I use Campfire Business Chat for a freelance group
right now if you are interested: http://www.campfirenow.com/
Forum chats can be created by Yahoo, blogs, lots of different sources.
Price will raise if you want your site password protected and ad free.
The best option would be Diane's, trying to get everything hosted on
your own site. It's possible. If you want more advanced options like
online grading and evaluations ask around, I am sure a couple of young
programmers could help you on the cheap. All they would have to do is
get everything to save in a database table and then export to a web
format. It may sound foreign, but trust me it is VERY simple.
As for Blackboard, to be completely honest, that company is overrated.
(no offense to you Donna, many schools use this, I have for many years
at other institutions) But for crying out loud they just declared
themselves the creators of online education and are trying to put a
patent on their techniques! (big lie)
"After purchasing and killing Prometheus in 2002 and WebCT last year
(and many other companies, though not strictly speaking CMS/LMS
companies), Blackboard seems to have a long-term strategy of not
developing good or original technology but buying competitors and, now
it is clear, trying to keep others out of the field by getting an
absurdly broad patent for common uses of technology if that technology
is employed in the context of education. Not only do we need to worry
about the future of open source initiatives such as Moodle and Sakai,
but we also need to worry about using a blog or wiki with a class of
students. In fact, simple networking protocols, authentication
practices, and the like, if undertaken by a school could well be
jeopardized by this patent."
I have to say in this instance "Don't feed the beast!" (please?)
Continuing Medical Education
Cleveland Clinic, Ohio