[LON-CAPA-users] What about CourseWeaver?

Gerd Kortemeyer korte at lite.msu.edu
Wed Dec 18 11:52:44 EST 2013


With this email I want to give some background and updates on the CourseWeaver project.

LON-CAPA has been and continues to serve Michigan State University for well over 20 years, http://www.lon-capa.org/anniversary.html , with about every fourth student on campus currently using our system. In the meantime, many other systems have come and gone.

I am proud to announce that MSU and the MSU Foundation decided to heavily invest into the next generation of LON-CAPA, and after a Board of Trustees meeting last week cleared some last hurdles, if all continues to go well, by January 1st the CourseWeaver Corporation is officially in existence. My appointment temporarily shifts from Lyman Briggs College to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies in order to free up most of my time for this project, and CourseWeaver will officially be housed just across the street from MSU - it looks like by the end of next week we will even have our very own telephone! But seriously, things are finally moving.

Just like MSU, many of your institutions have probably gone through more than one course management system by now. Reasons are manifold, but most likely switching was triggered by rising licensing costs, your system of choice being bought out by another company and shut down, broken promises, failure to scale, or just general inability of a product to meet your needs. There is a revealing graph at


which shows the near-monopoly situation today. New initiatives like the edX-system are not going to solve this for our on-campus business, as they are MOOC-centric.

Universities have largely failed to take true sustainable leadership (with the exception of the struggling Sakai project), and I applaud MSU for moving ahead. I believe that with the spin-off model of CourseWeaver, we may have hit the “sweet spot” between pure university efforts (which somehow seem doomed, see above graph) and pure commercial efforts (which lose touch with us, the faculty, and have largely failed to meet our needs on the long run).

CourseWeaver will be based on 20 years of experience at MSU and at your institutions. It will have a modernized and more modular technology stack, and the project will offer more flexible support and hosting options. I believe we have a very high chance of emerging as the product-of-choice of academic institutions.

We are now looking for partners and co-investors, which would likely be your college or university foundations. These are truly investments for shares in the new company. The more the project is literally owned by academia, the more likely it is to meet our needs on the long run. We would appreciate if you could bring this opportunity to the attention of your administration and foundations. I will be more than happy to come out and discuss this in person, and we can on request also provide legally appropriate documentation in the new year for accredited investors.

In the meantime, LON-CAPA keeps running and running. I was assured that 2.11 is just around the corner, and we will continue to support the system like we always did. Once CourseWeaver is ready, which depending on investment rounds could take two or three years, we will provide smooth transition paths for institutions that are deciding to switch - the latter is very important to me, since I don’t know how many hours and hours and hours I have spent writing content and problems - I sure don’t want to lose that investment myself. And if you don’t want to switch: LON-CAPA is open-source freeware, nobody can take that away.


- Gerd.

Gerd Kortemeyer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Physics
Director, LON-CAPA Project
CSO, CourseWeaver
Michigan State University

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