I absolutely feel comfortable expanding my courses outside of the University supported technologies. I use Sakai primarily for tests/quizzes and the gradebook. While I do also add links (Web Content) to my courses as well. the Web Content tool is rather clunky and there is a limit to how many links I can add. For my web content, Diigo is a far superior tool and I will now be moving my web content there. In addition, I have been toying with the idea of using the Google App Engine to work with PHP in one of my courses. I suppose this all makes me an EduPunk!
What is particularly appealing about moving outside of Sakai is that doing so allows me to use tools that are appropriate for my individual courses. There is no way that any LMS could ever build proprietary tools that fit the needs of all courses. In fact, attempting to do so would be, in my opinion, poor software development practice! One of the fundamental principals in software development is code reuse – we never want to re-invent the wheel — as long as we have a wheel that works well, we should reuse it! I think LMSs should, at this point, stick with what they do best and stay in the secure domain. They should also provide a clean integration with other “best in class” tools.
I found an interesting guide while researching EduPunk: “The EduPunks’ guide to a DIY Credential”, by Anya Kamenetz. This guide outlines the way a DIY learner should approach learning a topic in depth. While The guidance in this manual looks great in theory, I don’t see young adults having the motivation to carry through to extent outlined in the guide. In fact, an article in The Conversation: “MOOCS and exercise bikes – more in common than you think” speaks to what I believe will ultimately happen to many DIY learners. They will simply get caught up in life and their academics will get put on the back burner. I know that sounds cynical, but I think the DIY approach is missing one crucial component: learners are not immersed in academics the way they are when they attend a University. Students at a University feel like students 24 hours a day, whether they are in class, or simply walking down the street, they are constantly reminded that they are students. This constant reminder keeps them focused on the importance of their academics. While DIY learners have access to online study groups, etc., when they step away from their computer screen, they are, at some level, stepping away from their academics.