Friday, June 26, 2009

The Future of Educational Software is "Down Under"

There is something tremendously exciting going on down under. I just left the Free and Open Source Software in Education (FOSSED) conference in Bethel, Maine, where I have been blown away by two work shops on on-line learning tools from Australia and New Zealand. I was already familiar with Moodle, the on-line course management system. What blew me away were:
  • Mahara - on-line ePortfolio system.
  • LAMS - on-line learning activiy manager
When we first started dreaming about CanDo five years ago, we invisioned a system that could provide three things:
  1. Transparance through explicit presentation of course competency goals.
  2. On-line curriculum links to encourage students to engage in self learning.
  3. On-line ePortfolios explicitly linked to course competencies as evidence of skills mastery.
We thought we were going to have to write all these things into CanDo itself, but it looks like an integrated SchoolTool, Mahara, and LAMS system could provide us with exactly what we had envisioned. Yay collaborative problem solving through free software!

What is interesting to me is that all of these pieces with the exception of SchoolTool are being developed in Australia and New Zealand. I definetly want to find out more about what is happening down there to make all this innovation happen.

Alan Kay was right a few years back when he said the computer revolution hadn't happened yet, but it is happening now, and it is a wonderful thing to be in the middle of it.

I can hardly wait for next September, when I'll start school with our SchoolTool / Muhara / Moodle / LAMS server.

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