Scalable open source.LRN application and development tools support integrated teaching, research and collaboration
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 12, 2004 -- Members of a multi-university project on open source software for collaborative education today announced formation of the.LRN ("Dot-Learn") Consortium to accelerate and expand development of an open source application suite currently used by a quarter million students and educators at institutions of higher education and research around the globe.
The.LRN Project encompasses an ongoing 10-year development effort and represents the world's largest open source project for scalable educational software. Built on the OpenACS project,.LRN applications originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and enhancements from the past several years have been deployed by the MIT Sloan School of Management as SloanSpace -- its primary means of providing class management and community support. At present, SloanSpace hosts more than 10,000 student and faculty users, amounting to 1,250+ unique logins per day.
Along with the MIT Sloan School, charter members of the.LRN Consortium include Heidelberg University, The European Union-funded E-Lane Project and the University of Sydney.
Nearly 40 application modules of the.LRN system today are deployed at two dozen universities and research organizations on five continents. The comprehensive suite of scalable components, along with a powerful development framework, has been continually extended to support a broad set of solutions for collaboration in a variety of settings. Applications include:
â¢ Class management, such as content aggregation and syndication among universities.
â¢ Multi-party learning simulations involving complex roles and workflows.
â¢ Community support for structured (polls, surveys) and unstructured (bulletin boards) interaction.
â¢ Assessment & testing integrated with authoring and reporting tools.
â¢ Constituent communications, including weblogs and class notes.
"The applications and development tools that make up.LRN have been in continual development for a decade, resulting in a robust collaborative education platform," said Al Essa, co-chair of the.LRN Board. "Deployments in every corner of the globe have fostered growing interest from higher education, research organizations, even K-12 school districts. It became clear to a number of us that establishing a consortium would help make the suite more available to institutions -- all of which are eager to capitalize on.LRN's rapid implementation, flexibility and low cost of ownership."
The Consortium's charter members all utilize.LRN in collaborative education efforts. Heidelberg University manages hundreds of courses with internationalization features; the E-LANE project is developing new methodologies to integrate technology into learning; and the University of Sydney is leveraging various technology standards to improve cross-institution collaboration.
"MIT recognizes that leadership in education needs to be matched by leadership in educational technology," said Professor Steven D. Eppinger, Deputy Dean and Chair of the Educational Technology Task Force at the MIT Sloan School. "We have benefited tremendously by utilizing.LRN as a central element of our educational technology infrastructure in the MIT Sloan School. It integrates course management with collaboration support for online communities. We have been pleased with the flexibility and cost-effectiveness that.LRN has afforded us so far, and we look forward to seeing its further innovations."
A sampling of other institutions now running innovative.LRN implementations includes the University of Bergen, Norway's major urban university. Bergen has developed a portal integrating the academic experience across two geographically dispersed campuses, managing 1,500 courses with 13,000 users. The Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration employs.LRN to support its blended learning model for undergraduate courses, and leverages.LRNâs open architecture to develop highly customized extensions for its students.
Organizations interested in learning more about.LRN or in joining the consortium may visit http://dotlrn.org for details. A technical background on the.LRN framework and descriptions of particular modules may be obtained at http://dotlrn.org/features/."