I was forwarded an email last night by someone asking where they could download a copy of CAREO to use as a national learning object repository (in a nice, tropical country south of here). I’ve been thinking about it since I checked email early this morning. There is no need for CAREO (or its ilk) anymore. Other solutions have evolved and surpassed what we came up with as a prototype Learning Object Repository.
If I was to start an organizational/institutional/regional repository of resources, I’d just use a copy of Drupal.
Yes. Drupal. It provides every feature that CAREO does/did, and many many more that we would have never had time to implement.
You can create custom content types, and any taxonomies you like, so it would be perfectly possible to create a full LOM record as a Drupal node. Or, you could stick with simple nodes and multiple free taxonomies and have a more organic system.
It can handle internal content (uploads of files – even resizing images) as well as external (simple hyperlinks). It can handle access control (either role based, or group based, and I’m working on user-based). Threaded discussions can be tied to any piece of content. Rating systems and voting is supported. Full searchability and browsing is supported out of the box. Multiple themes – users can even select their own themes if needed. Multiple websites on the same instance of the application. LDAP authentication. Nice rich text WYSIWYG editors. RSS feeds all over the place (even podcasting!). Tracking statistics (popular items, etc…). The software scales pretty well, too (handling big sites like The Onion, NASA, SpreadFirefox and many others).
And it’s a widely used, free, open source project that can run on literally any webserver (or desktop box) that can handle PHP and MySQL (and if your server can’t handle that, it’s crap).
So, there it is. Drupal would provide a more robust, flexible, and extensible solution than CAREO could. I might have to look at migrating the data from our instance of CAREO into Drupal…
I’m not the first to realize this, either. The folks at SocialLearning.ca are building what is essentially a learning object repository and community support system. In Drupal.
With that said, if you STILL want a copy of CAREO, the instructions to install it are here. Contact me for a download package, but I won’t be able to provide support.
11 thoughts on “Drupal as Learning Object Repository”
Mike – I agree that the technology isn’t the important part of the equation. It’s just that SOOO much energy/effort/time/money has been spent building The One True Repository, when that could have all been better spent on professional devolpment, content development, etc. by just using Drupal (or something else – heck, even del.icio.us would do a decent job) pretty much stock off-the-shelf.
As for the motivation, that’s hard to capture. For CAREO, we had provincial funding to allocate staff to create and publish resources. It’s good as a start, but doesn’t scale. What seems to work best is to have a functional community of practice, with a defined set of participants, and provide them with the means to share resources.
Daily Edublogging Update — May 5, 2006…
Here’s a summary of ideas and conversations from the edublogging community that have captured our attention in the past 48 hours….
Scott – I haven’t seen anything specifically for IMS Content Packages in Drupal – but there is an integration between Drupal and Moodle that might let the content packages live happily in the LMS, while other activities live in Drupal…
Hey D’Arcy, are you aware of a module for Drupal that will dynamically preview IMS content packages? If not an existing one, how about PHP code from some other project that could be put to this task with Drupal? I know this wasn’t one of the features of CAREO, but it is one that is (for better or worse, I’ll leave that debate to others) that people seem to expect from their LORs.
But your suggestion is a good one – if people back off defining their task so narrowly as ‘I must implement a learning object repository’ and instead focus on what they actually want people to be able to do (e.g. help people to share and find instructional resources of this and that type and…) then it is remarkable what other types of software and approaches can fit the bill. Something I’ve learned the hard way 😉
I’m intrigued by this post, largely because I thought the whole planet had left learning objects behind, and moved on to the seductive, subversive Web2.0. While it is no doubt correct that Drupal could achieve the same goals as a customized LO repository, what I was hoping for in the post was some advice on the more fundamental problem with repositories: what motivates someone to contribute? I’ve been working for years on a project called LoLa: Learning Objects, Learning Activities and one insight that we’ve had is that you need to explain to ourselves and our (potential) users WHY they should spend their time typing into the boxes we provide. The core problem is not the technology, but the academic reward structure, which so far has no good way to reward people for this kind of contribution, and (as noted above) shows few signs of changing.
Now you tell me, after we spent all that money on The Learning Edge. 😉
Drupal is just way too cool!
Sorry for the silly, lame comment, but I have been fighting with the login failure bug for a couple of months and just found a solution today and so was finally able to play with 4.7 (well, on my live server, worked fine on Apache-based EasyPHP test). Now I get to try and update my website to 4.7 and try to remember all the little bits I hacked here and there.
This is all great, more power to your elbow etc, but if organisations need to store, share and re-use complex e-learning content, they need a system which:
In this day and age, I'm not sure it is fair to call any system that does not do this, including Careo, a learning object repository, however useful it may be for keeping track of single files or links. Many groups have tried to apply generic document management, knowledge management and content management systems, of which there are a huge number, commercial and open source, to learning resources, but to get the full benefits of granularity and reusablity I firmly belive you need something that goes a bit deeper, which is why Intrallect created the intraLibrary Learning Object Repository system.
Oh yeh, it also does RSS .
Cheers and best wishes,
In my work with faculty, it is clear that there are many, strong institutional disincentives to sharing. Chief among them is the prospect of compensation by commercial publishers. Why give something away for nothing when there is a chance, however remote, that someone will pay me for it?
Other sentiments include the fear that reciprocity isn’t forthcoming at all or is of lesser quality and usability. Why contribute when most of my colleagues will not do likewise? The perception is that there are far more “takers” than “givers.”
Attribution loss is another fear. CC licences notwithstanding, many fear that their work will be appropriated, stripped of attribution and sold or rented.
Thus, I agree that this is a fundamental issue that hasn’t been addressed well enough for the prospect of LORs or any device that relies on academic contributions to reach their full potential.
Drupal is a good framework to use for this, especial if you want to have a focus on web 2.0 /community. You have a module/plug-in for almost everything toy need. And it is easy to make content types including support for metadata like IMS LOM. Drupal also comes in a educational package: http://drupaled.org/.
The Norwegian organisation utdanning.no is using drupal to build a repository for learning content (or more like a publishing framework for educational content). version 1 is live at http://fag.utdanning.no
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