[LON-CAPA-dev] Interesting survey of Open Source courseware

Jeremy Bowers lon-capa-dev@mail.lon-capa.org
Thu, 01 May 2003 14:36:30 -0400


"The purpose of this paper is to outline the major open source 
courseware projects and to rate their usefulness. This is not intended 
as a definitive ranking but rather as a point of departure for those 
interested in investigating these systems and who are considering an 
open source courseware implementation."

"Recommended Systems (only fully distributable systems are considered 
for these recommendations)

Top 3 Systems in terms of Scalability and Development Flexibility

    1. CHEF
    2. LON-CAPA
    3. Moodle

Top 3 Systems in Terms of Pedagogical Flexibility

    1. Moodle
    2. LON-CAPA
    3. fle3

(While it'd be nice to show up in the #1 slot at least once, you have to 
admit that's a pretty good showing overall out of 18 surveyed candidates.)

"LON-CAPA at Michigan State
LON-CAPA is a distributed open-source Learning Content Management and 
Assessment System that provides instructors with a common, scalable 
platform to assist in all aspects of teaching a course, from lecture 
preparation to administration of homework assignments and exams. It also 
enables instructors to create educational materials and to share such 
learning resources with colleagues across institutions in a simple and 
efficient manner. [from our website]

LON-CARPA [sic] is long on functionality and support for extended 
character sets and computation, but it's a bit short on user 
friendliness. It is a robust system built for enterprise scalability and 
handles clustering well. This system is highly recommended as one of the 
most promising candidates for providing traditional course management 
functionality for large institutions. LON-CARPA is an active participant 
in the standards movement and provides strong documentation nd 
development support.
S =5 O=5 A=4 I=3 F=4 E=3 Total = 24"

On a five point scale (5 good, 1 bad), that's:

Scalability    - 5
Openness       - 5
Administration - 4
Implementation - 3
Functionality  - 4
Effectiveness  - 3

Each criterion has a longer paragraph definition in the article, and 
IMHO the ratings are fair. ("Effectiveness", for instance, seems to 
translate closer to "User friendly" to the general faculty; just reading 
those words probably doesn't give the best idea of what they are grading.)