The decision: Build vs. buy

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Aug 20, 2009

In my last blog, one of the reasons schools cited that they did not offer online courses for their students is that they don’t have the expertise to create online courses. To this point, there is a good article in EducationWeek that talks about the factors involved in building vs. buying online courses for professional development. You can read it here.

Some takeaways are that building high-quality online professional development courses is often quite difficult, so it’s actually more cost effective to buy a ready-made product, the director of EdTech Leaders Online, Barbara Treacy, says. The cases where building one’s own course makes more sense and is indeed cheaper occur generally when the need is so local or customized that an off-the-shelf option just wouldn’t exist. There are more nuances, however, so read the article in full.

In my own travels, I am constantly amazed over how many people want to reinvent the wheel in a way that isn’t really that different and thus there really is no need to do so. Florida Virtual School created its courses at a time when there were really no other content options out there. For online schools and districts seeking online options today, that’s just no longer the case.

– Michael B. Horn

Michael is a co-founder and distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute. He currently works as a principal consultant for Entangled Solutions.