dLCMS – Open Source LCMS built on Silva/Zope


Ahhhh, love those Google searches. Whilst searching (and still seeking) information about the standards compliance of WebCT CE 6 content exports, I stumbled across this find, the dynamic Learning Content Management System. Built as an extension of the open source CMS called Silva, dLCMS bills itself as a “content management system for web based learning materials” built on top of Zope and released under a BSD license. It stores resources in XML format and has created packages which have been successfully imported into OLAT, ILIAS, Moodle and WebCT. It looks to have been produced by ETH Zurich (and possibly on soft money that’s now run out) but possibly worth a look. – SWL

Educause Evolving Technology Committe Report on Open Source LMS


There’s nothing really wrong with this report but also nothing very exciting either – basically a short synopsis of Sakai and Moodle and the state of affairs in LMS adoption in the US. If I were one of the 50 or so other open source learning management system projects out there I might be a bit choked by the continued lack of recognition (and it certainly gives pause to claims I’ve seen made within the open source CMS community that there’s no inherent competition between open source projects) but if you need a short synopsis document on the topic to stick in front of a still skeptical CIO, this is one place to start. – SWL

Report on “Organization for Open Source Software”


This extensive paper funded by the Mellon and Hewlitt foundations (amongst others) is an important read. It looks at the adoption of open source in higher education (in the US) and the need for an organizing body that could address “uncertainty about future support for and improvements in the software” and supply coordination to prevent “wasteful duplication both of development efforts and of governance structures.” Sounds sensible enough, right?

The case made here for adoption of open source in higher ed seems strong and unassailable, and the scope is not just ‘educational’ software like LMS but all aspects of higher ed infrastructure, things like SIS, Library OPACs and Financial Aid systems.

Here’s where my wordy wrestling with the issues would usually go. Too busy. Suffice to say – the issue of ‘freedom’ is as tantamount here as it’s been recently noted elsewhwere, and while my first reaction is to bristle against some of the seemingly artificial constructs these organizations would engender, those might be small concessions compared to the freedoms from commercial licensing fees, patents and the like that I think honestly motivate initiatives like this. – SWL

Note: The original reference was from Lorcan Dempsey’s always insightful blog. Read his original post for a much better synopsis and questions about the report.

UMW’s Bluehost/Fantastico Experiment

If posts by the cogdog, blamb AND Jon Udell weren’t enough to convince you, then take MY word too and run, don’t walk, over to Gardner Campbell’s blog to listen to a 45 minute recording from their latest faculty academy on using a 3rd party hosting solution and application ‘control panel’ as a way to inexpensively support faculty innovation and experimentation. (And for the record, this hasn’t changed my mind at all about podcasts, though Brian’s right, Gardner’s voice is remarkably soothing to listen to 😉

I must admit to feeling a little dissatisfied with the discussion about ‘enterprise computing’ -type questions (around minute 20 and following, and in the questions and answers in the end) but it’s not a simple complaint either.

First off, they really should be commended for adopting a mechanism that greatly increases the authentic assessment of new technologies, part of the aim that’s described in the first 20 minutes. And in regards to the ‘enterprisey’ issues, some stock also needs to be placed in the retort of how enterprisey these systems should have become anyways. This has come up a few times in conversation for me over the last weeks – while the use of computer technology in teaching and learning isn’t that new, this beast we call the ‘course management system’ is barely 10 years old…do we really believe we got it right the first time, in just 10 years, and that the model will never need changing? So there’s a lot to be said in general about an approach that stays flexible, especially in light of Web 2.0, which if anything could be described as massive, non-stop disruptive innovation, the only constant being change. Sure, we thought the internet in general meant that, but now it really seems to be unfolding in front of our eyes.

So I’m left both inspired but wanting to eat my cake too – can we not have this flexibility and experimentation AND the guarantees of service we seem expected to provide? (I liked Gardner’s response about trust and agreeing to a certain amount of risk, but I’ve never seen that calm down an irate professor during exams when the system goes down.) Udell’s comment regarding Ray Ozzie’s speech really resonates for me here – “In his vision of the future of enterprise software, services are delivered on demand, they produce value in incremental steps, and they’re paid for when — not before — that value is proven.”

Still, Gardner and his crew are to be totally commended for their approach – maybe instead of a ‘learning management operating system‘ we might start thinking about a control panel for instructor-controlled (or student controlled, how about sticking that in your pipe!) mix- and matchable lightweight apps that already had the connectors to the SIS and authentication systems built in (or can these be the same thing?) – SWL

(the first step to dealing with your problem is admiting you have a problem…My name is Scott, and I am a blog addict…really, I’m working on my other machine right now as I write this!)

University of Washington’s Catalyst team releases Solstice Perl Framework


Oren Sreeby wrote me today to let me know about the recent open sourcing of Solstice, a Web application development framework for Perl which the University of Washington has developed to power their suite of Catalyst tools. Solstice itself is just the framework used in the development, but the team is also apparently at work to open source the actual web tools themselves. This is exciting news as people who have seen the Catalyst tools will know that they represented an early and quite innovative approach to providing teaching and learning tools (including a much lauded eportfolio tool) that wasn’t simply replicating the same CMS over and over again. Ed Tech Perl developers, are you listening? – SWL

RepoMMan Project


To keep going on the apparent ‘open source repository’ theme today, this JISC-funded project appears to be using Fedora and Sakai to investigate automated population of metadata based on contextual information provided by the portal environment, to examine the boundaries of personal versus institutional digital resource management, and to develop some workflow aroud common repository tasks based around Service Oriented Architecture. Phew. Fedora is a different approach than DSpace, though both originated from the library/institutional repository world, and yet in my earlier investigations it too seemed to also have some limitations to its effectiveness as a LOR. Early days yet for this project, but maybe some promise in moving it closer to serve those (and other) needs better. And you just gotta love the name. – SWL

Presentations from OSS Watch’s Open Source and Sustainability Conference


Lots of value here for decision makers and others struggling to make arguments for the adoption of open source in higher ed (and lots of ‘Stevenote’ inspired presentations for those tired of reading lots of text on slides). Too many to really go into detail, but I quite liked “Your Open Source Strategy Sucks!” (catchy title!) and really appreciated the honesty that was apparent in James Dalziel’s Lessons from LAMS: The highs and lows of going open source. – SWL

LMSNews – Reviews of 4 Open Source CMS


Although the majority of the site appears to be in German, they do have 4 reviews on the open source course management systems Claroline 1.7.0, Interact 2.0, LON-CAPA 2.0.2 and StudIP. They seem highly anecdotal, but also honest about the ease (or lack of) installing and administering some of these tools. – SWL

OSS Watch – Documentation issues in open source


Bravo to the OSS Watch guys for tackling this hoary issue straight on – the best way to fight ‘fear uncertainty and doubt’ is by talking about the issues and showing how one can address them. Not that I know of any open source project that have this problem, ahem, but this short piece contains the sensible advice to make mailing lists, chat logs, etc., accessible to search engines and bookmarking systems, as well as to encourage new users to contribute documentation as their first contribution to the project. – SWL

An Evaluation of Open Source CMS Stressing Adaptation Issues


This paper looks at the ever expanding world of open source course management systems, but adds to the comparison the factors of “adaptability, personalization, extensibility and adaptivity” (this later meaning “automatic adaptation to the individual user�s needs”). The results; Moodle is judged to be the best in terms of its adaptation capabilities, though all of the projects are deemed to be light on end-user adaptivity. – SWL