Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Price of Creativity


There are some fabulous creative media tools online. Some have education squarely in their sights. Yet, in the last five years spent as a creative media teacher I've only ever signed up for one - for one term. Looking again recently at the new-look improved Creaza, IMHO the best creative media toolkit online, I fell to wondering why it isn't widely used in the UK. And came to the conclusion it's all to do with pricing...
Looking at several paid-for sites there are certain common factors in the way they expect schools to part with their hard-won spondulicks.
Most seem to assume you will wish to sign up for a year, some will allow one term. Understandably, the pricing of a year will be proportionally less than for a term - bulk buying is always cheaper. Generally they have pay bands whose cost depends on group size.
So what is it about this approach that puts me off?
How many times in a term/year am I actually going to use the tool?
Am using it because I’ve paid for it?  Many teachers will find this alone enough to put them off.
Even if we are using the tool regularly are all my students?
I want to use combinations of tools - to put cartoon strips on my multimedia page and multimedia pages on my blog. The cumulative cost is high even when the individual cost is reasonable.
What happens when one teacher teaches many students over the course of a year in a rolling program?  For example: last year I was teaching 300 students in quarter year blocks. Must I pay for all 300 students even though there will be only 75 or so using the application at any one time – and then only for two or three of their ten weeks?
Finally there’s also the (probably unreasonable) feeling that the internet should be free. There are so many excellent tools out there that cost nothing. Either beta versions or I-haven’t-a-clue-how-they-survive outfits like Padlet?
What is needed to resolve most of these problems is the ability to pay for tools in a much finer-grained way. You don’t usually pay up front for a year’s gas or electricity; surely it would be possible for a tech company to monitor the length of time and the number of users using the application in any one school and give them access to the number of ‘units’ being used – the online equivalent of a smart meter. Trying to forward guess how a school will use a service without a back history of actual use is nigh-on impossible.
Personally - and I’m sure I’m not alone here - I would wish to use the best tool for the task; after all, making a cartoon strip is a whole different ballgame from making a multimedia web page. Each is good for a different set of aims and outcomes. None are the answer to every demand.  Perhaps the only subscription I know I might really use most of the time is an online suite like Creaza.
Great! So how much does it cost?
… I’ve absolutely no idea it’s PoA …