In my last post, I announced that I will be taking a new job at Oracle and explained that the move will not affect my blogging. Now I'd like to take a moment to talk about why I'm so excited about this new opportunity to make a difference in the world of online learning.
I have long worried that folks who spend their days out on the bleeding edge discovering new and better ways to teach and learn online and the folks who spend their days working to increase the diffusion of baseline enhancements broadly across entire universities don't speak the same language. We get brilliant small tools that individual practitioners can use flexibly to great effect, and we get scalable, supportable systems that make it easy to provide new services to everyone in a university (and, just as importantly, to help them learn how to use those services to provide at least modest improvements to the quality of the educational experience), but we don't really get both. Innovation is very slow to make its way into the mainstream. There are exceptions to this, of course (I think of the integration of Elgg and LAMS with Moodle or the large-scale podcasting initiatives at places like Stanford and Penn State, for example), but generally speaking, the wall between these two worlds is way too high. In my mind, the LMOS has always been an attempt to lower that wall.
So along comes one of the largest companies in the world, and it wants to pour resources into the very same vision that my colleagues and I arrived at for SUNY when we were thinking about the needs of our teachers and students. And it makes a commitment to use an Open Source platform and work with open standards. And it gets an endorsement from the CEO of the IMS for walking the walk on standards. And it wants to hire this loudmouth blogger with a history of bashing another large company (and an Oracle business partner) to help guide the vision for improving the teaching and learning experience.
How could I resist?
I didn't take this job to work at a big software company or to make more money. I left the corporate consulting world to work at SUNY two years ago (at a very significant pay cut) because I wanted to make a difference. That hasn't changed. I believe that I can make a difference working at Oracle on the AEI project. And I believe the people who hired me, the people with whom I had very long conversations during the interview process, also want to make a difference. And I believe that those people are the drivers of the AEI project and will be supported in their efforts. Above all, I believe that we have a rare opportunity to have a potential impact at a critical inflection point in the future of learning environments.
I can't wait to get started.