Friday, January 04, 2008

Use the Right Tool for the Right Job

My dad always would say: "Use the right tool for the right job". It would drive him nuts when he caught me using a screw driver to dig a small hole in the wood - "Use a chisel". Or sometimes when I'd use the wrench to hit something instead of getting up and getting a hammer. I particularly remember his delight in taking out a pair of 18" clamps to hold some glued parts together until they dried properly. My instinct would have been to hold the parts until my hands grew tired and hope that was long enough for it to stick (it rarely was).

So, I was thinking of Dad in yesterdays product planning meeting. It turns out that in my tiny company, we are trying to use the right tool for each job:

Moodle - We are using this LMS (learning management system) to put up our own science courses with text, flash, multiple choice questions, student records, etc
phpbb - We have a homeschool parents forum built around this simple effective tool.
Blogger - This blog and my karate blog are built around blogger. Easy to get started with and with some add-ons (feedburner & HaloScan for trackbacks), it's more than adequate.
Wordpress - I was convinced by a number of people that wordpress would be great for a web home schooling blog since it was better for SEO & multi-authors. The jury is still out on this.
Joomla - This content management system - CMS - was chosen as the best way to handle the administration on the coolest spelling website ever that we've now built. At the moment, frankly, we think we really goofed on the choice. The implementation has been painful requiring more rework than development and at the end, the user interface is less than elegant. sigh. Should we rebuild?
Drupple - We want a full featured community for our students which is private and has all sorts of moderating capabilities. I keep asking why we can't use joomla or moodle or a php forum or some blog extensions. The answer seems to be that if we did, it would stink. Sigh.
Typepad pro - Next week, we launch our first course teaching blogging as literature. The first blogging course focused on storytelling. We need to be able to have a group of blogs under one private account and some group discussion capabilities. Our "writing sensei" selected Typepad Pro for the blogging and we're using Google Groups for the discussions.

We are also looking at a few live webinar technologies and surprise, none of our current technologies seem to have that integrated within them either....Three names that have popped up are Wimba, Centra, & Elluminate. Why not Microsoft Meeting?

Of course, our main sites are in .net or flash or php with lots of untemplated html, some javascript and java, and includes and iframes.....One part of our system (a part that we don't control) still uses Microsoft Agent (long sigh).

My point: There was a reason that my dad was great around the house....his collection of tools, his organization, and his determination to do things right. And we're trying to put together great systems. So many specific jobs, many technologies. Soldier on...

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