Compare these two statements:
a) The Social Media Virtual Classroom will develop an online community for teachers and students to collaborate and contribute ideas for teaching and learning about the psychological, interpersonal, and social issues related to participatory media. This digital learning space will both feature and analyze the use of blogs, wikis, chat, instant messaging, microblogging, forums, social bookmarking and instructional screencasts for teachers and students.
b) I'm going to introduce a tool set for teachers and learning. The Social Media Classroom is a free, open source online teaching tool.
When I, for one, read the first, I think, "Why the fuck does the anyone think Howard Rheingold needs $61,000 to create an 'online community?'" When I hear the second and watch the first minute or so of the video I think, "Thank god someone is finally trying trying what I've been calling for forever," (yes, elgg, but their model went off the rails almost immediately; still, good work, Jim).
To me, creating a "community" or "space" in no way implies "writing and releasing open source software." We've got plenty of the former and precious little for education in the latter.
Will can confirm that I've been telling him for years that $40,000 - $60,000, a teacher who knew what he wanted and a good free content management system would change the game if anyone could just scare up a grant. That we seemed to make it though several rounds of MacArthur grant making from a $50 million dollar pie without them spotting such a glaring need was more than a little dispiriting.
Hopefully the results will be good. This is all based on Drupal and hopefully will compliment DrupalEd. The only thing I have left to complain about at the moment is that the initial project summary was so uninteresting. Maybe the rest of the Digital Media & Learning Awards will also be pleasant surprises.