This is a different kind of post for me… I’m really thinking out loud and looking for folks more knowledgeable than me to make suggestions.

I’m working on an OER project plan to develop open “textbooks” (collections of resources with a scope and sequence, not necessarily in a textbook format) for K-12 that can be remixed at a classroom or even student level to differentiate instruction. The focus is on flexibility, ease of use, and appropriateness for average K-12 teacher.

I want to put resources toward high quality content, not a platform. There are so many open platforms out there that there must be one (or more) that are appropriate for this. I suspect that there might be a need for two platforms: a CMS for the developers and an LMS for end users. Some key criteria would include:

  • Support for various media types (text, audio, video)
  • Support for interactive media (quizzes, writing response, assignment submission, etc.)
  • Ability to export in multiple formats (print, electronic)

Here are systems I’ve looked at and thought about (some more than others): Moodle, MediaWiki, ConnexionsFlexBooks, and Sakai.

As an end user tool, I like Moodle for a lot of reasons, including that it is very interactive and geared for remix. It also doesn’t hurt that a lot of schools already use and like it.

While Moodle seems like a good LMS for my purposes, it seems like we’d need a front-end development CMS to host content in. The idea would be that a teacher would choose a course (or smaller content modules) from the CMS and then export them to Moodle where the materials could be customized for individual classes or even groups of students.


  • Does this approach make sense?
  • Do you know of anyone using a CMS to export content into Moodle?
  • What other tools or approaches should I be thinking about?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you care to share.

Thinking about platforms for open learning
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3 thoughts on “Thinking about platforms for open learning

  • Pingback:Choosing an Open Platform for Open Textbooks «

  • December 8, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Hi Karen. I came across this post through the Open Education News feed and it sounds quite similar to what I’m trying to do with an open physiotherapy textbook…my project from the MozOpenEd course earlier this year (I think we might have chatted briefly then?). The details of my project are at, where I link to a few platforms I’ve looked at.

    I’m thinking of a wiki for collaborative authoring of content, with the addition of an extension that would allow exporting of sections of content in a variety of formats, including print (most students in South Africa would have very limited access to the internet). Mediawiki combined with Pediapress seems like it might be useful.

    I like your idea of using one system to manage content and then being able to export / import that content into another platform. My only issue with that approach though, is that I disagree with using Learning Management Systems in general. I think that more often than not, they lock users (teachers and students) into a structured system that isn’t flexible enough. But that’s just a personal opinion based more on how LMS’ are actually used, as opposed to how they could be used.

  • December 9, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Hi, Michael. (I do remember you from the MozOpenEd course.) Your project description and links were useful to me. Thanks for sharing.

    While I love wikis for a great many things, I don’t think this would be the most useful tool for my project. For development, we won’t be using a mass collaboration process, need more structure, and will have a lot of multimedia. For actual delivery, I’ve struggled with the difficulty of doing much that is interactive with MediaWiki.

    The import/export functionality of whatever we use would give end consumers the option of putting it in a wiki if they chose though, which I think is important.

    While I agree that any LMS imposes structure on end users, our target audience (public school K-12 teachers) are generally not able/willing to spend a lot of time on massaging content. One thing I like a lot about Moodle is that it is very easy for an individual teacher to move things around, add content or resources, take things out, etc.

    Also, a lot of schools here already use Moodle. Not having a steep learning curve and supplying vetted content for a tool they already use will be a huge benefit to widescale adoption.

    Now, to figure out the logistics of the import/export routine. :)

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