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Total Cost of Ownership 2.0 by Ryan Bretag

You've reached a point where the web 2.0 tools are beginning to reach a systemic level in your school. More and more teachers are shifting to technoconstructivists and have transformed their classes into student-centered learning communities that no longer function as one-room school houses. The school culture is becoming more collaborative and innovative. There is great excitement at the possibilities but then the bottom falls out. One by one, the free web 2.0 tools that this entire movement is based upon start to charge and no one accounted for funding because web 2.0 equals free.

Okay, this is quite an exaggeration (on all levels) but free and web 2.0 may be heading down a path where they are no longer synonymous with each other as seen with the recent move by Gcast and the rumors of Twitter. For schools, it is causing us to really consider web 2.0 within the framework of Total Cost of Ownership, a vital part of fiscal management for schools in order to fully assess the full cost of an investment.

Total Cost of Ownership 2.0 Questions

  1. Is the tool valuable enough to student achievement to allocate funds to it?
  2. Is the tool valuable enough to adult learning to allocate funds to it
  3. If the tool is being promoted systemically, can your school secure funding for an annual subscription for the tool?
  4. Have you considered open source alternatives (ex. Grou.ps instead of Ning)?
  5. Depending on the companies contractual commitment to data storage and security, what in-house data storage and transfer plans are in place in case the company closes its doors?
  6. What funds are allocated for professional development given the possibility that a paid tool may mean less resources available online?

By no means is this meant to discourage the use of web 2.0 tools nor do I have any inside knowledge about specific companies and their tools. However, one needs only to look at the current economy combined with the business models driving many of these web 2.0 companies to see the potential for a perfect storm.

Given this potential reality, the responsibility of sustained tech infusion is on those attempting to bring the philosophy and tools of web 2.0 to schools, which means it is time to link Total Cost of Ownership with our advancement of the philosophy and tools of Web 2.0.