I must have blinked when this was announced, but OpenAcademic.org sounds like a perfect scenario. Development efforts to integrate some of the biggest open source tools used in online education. It sounds like the goal is to come up with a way for Drupal, Elgg, Mediawiki and Moodle to all play nicely together, in such a way as to be easily deployable and maintainable by even the smallest school. Rather than attempting to build The One True LMS, they’re taking the approach of playing to the strengths of the available tools, and putting the effort into integration.
The really cool thing is a documented commitment by the OpenAcademic.org team to not fork projects, and to contribute any code to the relevant communities. So, they’ll be hacking on each of these applications directly, with all improvements freely available to everyone.
Personally, I think this is one of the biggest and coolest developments in online education for the year. I’m ashamed that I missed the announcement almost a month ago.
I’ve been spending almost all of my time lately in Drupal, with some time in Moodle. It’s pretty obvious that each has its own strengths (and weaknesses), and that spending effort to duplicate each package’s feature set would be wasteful and counterproductive. Having an effective way to integrate these various tools would be amazingly powerful, especially as more applications, platforms and tools are brought into the mix.
Imagine an elearning ecosystem that ties in Drupal, Mediawiki, Elgg, Moodle, Blackboard, WebCT, Flickr, del.icio.us, Facebook, YouTube, etc… in a flexible system that can adapt to any pedagogical needs. Sweet.