T-Square is not just an alternative product; it is the conscious choice of a different path for supporting the teaching, learning and research missions of Georgia Tech online. This path is directed by the following principles:
Using technology in innovative ways for the support of the academic mission is something we're supposed to be good at. Outsourcing this to an external vendor hinders our ability to cater to local need and to leverage local talent: it becomes a barrier to making the technology relevant.
The basic tools for online collaboration are not exclusive to teaching and learning, and a better academic support will take into account the greater breadth of collaboration within academic life. The LMS domain has offered very poor support for research collaboration in particular, for collaboration in teams, and for doing sowith those at far-flung reaches of the globe. The day of the pure LMS is over, and we need to think bigger. T-Square will be a "Collaboration and Learning Environment" (CLE), and not an LMS.
Neither a homegrown system nor a shrink-wrapped commercial product have proven to be a good model for software development and support in this sphere: the former presents intolerable maintenance and development costs, while the latter is far too rigid and unresponsive. An open source collaboration, with its free exchange of ideas and peer review, is a better fit for academic values on the one hand, while its distribution of costs and risks across the consortium also represent a more sustainable business model and IT strategy.
There will always be a variety of activities and "niche" uses, and an effective system will not lock its users into a single mode or pattern of activity. Room must be allowed for ad hoc purposes and memberships without technocratic hurdles stifling innovative uses. This innovation can be further supported by integrating and supporting other services developed outside T-Square, wherever feasible.
Although technical constraints and cost efficiencies should not be neglected, neither should they be the last answer to every question. T-Square development should be oriented around the actual practice and needs of faculty and students.
An openness to collaboration and user-centered design should not compromise security and stability of the services. Mature but lightweight policies, processes and technologies should aim to harness a diverse creativity in such a way that it can remain coherent and reliable.
T-Square is not "finished," for in a certain sense it never will be. It is an ongoing development project in which faculty and students can participate. It is a path as much as it is a product.