Hmmm... I never thought this little blog entry would get Slashdotted. Really I hadn't intended to criticize the decisions MIT made. The project met its goals on time and under budget. The selection of 100 percent Microsoft tools was apparently a smart choice. Had it been my project I would have perhaps added some goals, e.g., more of an online community aspect for the front-end and easy to package up all the software behind the service to give away to other schools. These goals might have led to some different decisions on tools or perhaps not. Actually one nice thing about Microsoft tools is that you are guaranteed that most people will be willing to adopt them.
One of the things that we try to teach in the class (textbook is online at http://philip.greenspun.com/internet-application-w orkbook/ if you're curious to see what the students suffer through) is that being a good code monkey/CS nerd isn't sufficient to function well as an engineer. We try to give the students some experience with taking vague client specs and turning them into precise requirements, with presenting their work clearly, with constructively criticizing others' work in meetings, with conducting and learning from user testing, etc. The rationale for this is laid out in http://philip.greenspun.com/teaching/one-term-web
So it was actually very gratifying that our guest speakers came in and demonstrated that state-of-the-art American IT development projects no longer involve plain-old-programmers in America. Our students need to learn this early so that they can plan their careers and further education accordingly.