The Tools

I can really see a complete open source eLearning platform taking shape.  Let’s take a look at this.

WordPress + Buddypress – The public publishing tool for the eLearning Platform.  WP Multisite with Buddypress is a very powerful social publishing tool that can be used  by students and teachers to publish material that is available to the public.  We utilize LDAP logins so that  teachers and students all use a single login.  This is true of all of our web applications.  We all know the powerful tools available for WordPress that allow for great communication.

BigBlueButton + Matterhorn – These two apps working together do the heavy lifting for realtime communication and presentation of recorded content.  BigBlueButton integrates very nicely as plugins for both Moodle and WordPress.  The new recording feature of BBB and it’s integration with Matterhorn provides a high power recording and playback system for lectures and classroom instruction.  These recordings can be made available on WordPress and Moodle.  BigBlueButton is probably a must have for districts looking to get involved in Hybrid and Flipped classrooms.

Moodle + Mahara + Etherpad – A complete learning and ePortfolio system.  Moodle and Marhara, commonly called Mahoodle, is a great way for student to build repositories of learning material.  Mahara is great for forming organic learning groups and sharing of materials in a social type setting.  Moodle is such a powerful and useful application. It is like a SWISS Army knife for online learning.  It can be used for anything from wikis to blogs and everything in between.  Etherpad is a missing piece in the toolset of Moodle.  What Etherpad allows you to do is collaborative document editing.  It’s quick, easy, and fun to use.  Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we will have the beginnings of a plugin that will integrate a Etherpad install with Moodle.

StatusNet –  Patric Lougheed ‏ @patriclougheed on Twitter pointed out this open source twitter-like application.  I haven’t used it before but it sure does seem interesting!  More information on this application can be found here:https://status.net/features  I don’t know how I would integrate this into our setup as this would be in competition or used in conjunction with WordPress.  There are tools that allow WordPress to behave like twitter, specifically this plugin which we actually have available for our teachers:https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/quick-status.  In our journey right now, we are focusing on 2 main apps:  Wordpress and Moodle for teacher/student use.  Any additional applications need to be tightly integrated with either WordPress or Moodle for us to want to use them such as BigBlueButton and Mahara.  We want to work to provide support and build a strong userbase for these two tools.   I love new tools like StatusNet but for our situation in a K-12 environment we really need to have a laser-like focus on the tools and purpose or said tools for teachers.  Otherwise they have no idea  where to go when they want to use the web for communication or to build an online course.  We are going to keep it simple with iBlog (WordPress) and iLearn (Moodle).