• 26Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments: 2

    For those of you who’ve read through some posts on this blog, you’ll have noticed that I am quite the advocate of a technology that affords the less tech 20090126 postsavvy content developer with the opportunity to easily create flash content. I’ve published some of my materials here already, and I even started a “Learning Object Series” which was going to provide readers with a breakdown of all aspects of what a learning object can be. Not to mention all the other ideas I had in store…

    Pick up on that fleck of the past tense in that last sentence? Well, it seems that I’ll no longer be able to use that amazing technology. ‘Why?’, you may ask. Well, because recently I received an email from the Sprout Team advising me of their new pricing scheme. A technology that was previously free and accessible to all is now going to cost US$599.50/yr! Here’s the pricing scheme for those who would like a kick in the gut along with their morning coffee!

    I’m not going to dwell on the dozens and dozens of hours I’ve spent creating content using SproutBuilder. I’m not going to spend any more time feeling sorry for myself that I’ll loose all my work (because there’s no way of saving or backing up your sprout on your own machine). I won’t think a minute more about all the students who will be affected by this ‘new development’ since a number of my Sprouts are currently being used within virtual learning environments as tools for university students. I’ll even shelve all the other ideas I had for new uses of Sprouts – ideas that until a couple days ago were still cheerily sprouting in my mind. I’ll eventually move on to a new technology and probably even gain a few new skills along the way…but that’s really not the point…

    What I am quite disturbed about is the relationship between accessibility and money, and even more so, about the potential for the provider of the technology to abuse its power in order to dis-empower the user. In this case, the user was just one person – me – but what are the implications when the user is a university or a college with minimal funds available in its IT budget? The accessibility of technology is vital in today’s world. Taking a look at their pricing levels, it looks like the Sprout Team is targeting their product to high-end design firms with lots and lots of mulla to dish out, and most probably who are already Sprouters themselves and who will have to think a lot longer and harder than me about the implications of the investment they’ve already made in this fabulous new technology. Is this another sign that open source is the way of the future? At least for the disappearing middle class, it seems.

    Dear Sprout Team, let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Even sliced bread is affordable to the little guy!

    On a side note, anyone notice the strategically planted comment that the Sprout Marketing Manager planted on my blog, coincidentally only a couple days before the news broke about their new fees? …funny…

    armydavidsTo leave off on a more inspiring note, here’s a book forum discussion presented by the Cato Institute spotlighting a book written by Glenn Reynolds entitled, ‘An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths“. The latter part of this panel discussion gets quite politically heavy, but in addition to a brief glimpse into the history of beer (!), the panel discusses the implications of ideas presented in the book such as, “Technological developments are putting more and more power into the hands of more and more people.”

    My question is, what happens if technology providers become the Goliath’s? Where’s the empowerment supposed to come from then?

2 Responses

WP_Floristica
  • Neil Stephenson Says:

    Sproutbuilder – what a fantastic tool you have introduced us to – too bad about the new pricing plan. I had many ideas for how to use it, until I realized the cost involved. Any other similar tools that you know about?

  • Virtually Scholastic Says:

    Hi Neil ~

    Yeah, it is a fantastic tool! Such a shame it’s becoming unaffordable. In terms of other tools, definitely, there are so many! I’ll introduce them gradually on this blog, but in the meantime, if you have specific needs but aren’t sure of what technologies are out there that could suit you, let me know what you would want them to help you achieve and maybe we can figure something out together πŸ™‚

    For example, is video-rich content something you’d be interest in exploring? Animoto might be of interest in that case. I know of a great (and free) project management platform but K-12 might not be in the market for that πŸ˜›

    Katherine