Can We Host and Facilitate Our Courses Online For Free?
FREE HOSTED C/LMS?
Here are a few free hosted C/LMS that you might want to explore, before considering investing hardcore money on a commercial alternative:
A free web-based learning management system (LMS) built on a social network. Schoology leverages the familiarity of popular social media tools to improve communication and collaboration.
A web application designed especially to enable interaction outside of the classroom for higher education courses. Features include: wiki content editing, course blogs, online grades, announcements, text messaging, Nfo mail, message boards, student journals, and chat.
A Free web-based education site with a comprehensive set of features for teachers, students and parents. Features include: content management/sharing, calendar, attendance tracking, quiz, forums, notifications, and grade book with graphical reports.
Provides tools for users to build, manage and deliver courses. Users can even construct private and public universities. It allows a multi-media approach using video, audio, images and PDFs. Students can be timed, tested and they can send their transcripts after course completion. It also allows sharing of academic courses for all to use.
A service that connects students and instructors by allowing instructors to post course material and allowing students to get course updates via text messages, emails or RSS.
Is a free online tool for K-12 teachers to establish classroom portals for students and parents. Features include calendar, file sharing, discussion boards, internal messaging, mailing lists, and online assignment collection for teachers to use.
- eLearning Community 2.0
A social site for knowledge seekers to enrich their knowledge through online learning, sharing and socializing to make new friends without boundaries (It even includes an online conferencing tool! Then again you could always integrate WiZiQ or DimDim if this is not already included in your system).
A collaborative personal learning environment. Any member of Ecto (students, teachers, publishers) can create and share content. It claims to be the only learning management system built from the ground up on the principles and architecture of social software.
A web package designed for teachers, giving them class-level Web sites and tools. Features include: content management, messages, assignments, forums, and grade books.
A free web-based Course Management Service (CMS) that enables instructors to manage their courses online and provides students with collaborative tools to interact with their classmates. They don't allow the usage of advertisements on their course management tools, nor do they charge license fees. This is certainly a great plus, because I would love to learn without being stuffed with advertisements from every corner of the screen.
If we explore further, I suppose we will discover several more free hosted C/LMS. By the end of 2008, it wouldn't surprise me if the number of free hosted C/LMS will increase to beyond 100. How do they make money? Advertising, donations, venture capital, etc.! I suppose some are holding on (while loosing money!) hoping that some big 'Giant' (e.g. MSN, Yahoo, Google and Facebook) will soon acquire them for a big buck.
For whatever reason they are doing it (noble and/or business), we users are going to increasingly be spoilt for choice, and issue of free will not be sufficient. In addition, these learning solutions would need to be easy-to-learn/use, and empower us with the necessary learning tools, features and capacities (storage, scalability, export/import tools, 24/7 support, etc.) to enable us to facilitate effective and engaging learning environments tailored to students' learning needs.
Alright, we have time-ported to 2012. I suppose the University has its' own system (commercial, open source, or in-house built) to manage all the critical student, staff, and course data (records, billing, results, registration, etc.), but interestingly most systems have managed to go beyond, and now enable educators to choose which C/LMS (or social/collaborative learning system) that they would want to use to facilitate learning, if the local one does not meet their needs. Not only can they change template and customize features used, they can also use externally hosted C/LMS if they want (application assembly tool! Widgets!). This has been enabled, because all systems now communicate through a common language, enabling educators to easily import and export (or integrate) courses, content, and results with a few simple clicks.
The beauty of all this is that now Universities, Colleges, and Schools can invest more of their funds instead on hiring top-notch educators, and have larger budgets for training and faculty support. e-Learning CMS/LMS/PLE (Personal Learning Environments) providers will get their share via advertising, donations, and venture capital. Tools are free! Content is free! Learning is free!
Interestingly, some entrepreneurial students would have figured out ways to make money sense out of all this! They will be making money by selling their lecture notes, exams information, written reports, study guides, examination tips, etc. using tools like ShareNotes. Also, new advertising models will have blossomed basically paying both the students' study fees and lecturers' basic salaries, so that will also not be much of an issue. The Internet will be everywhere, computer devices will be charged by human touch. The only thing separating us from learning is our will or motivation to learn!
The free (at least partially!) global formal learning network ecosystem is complete. What a wonderful world! Can we do it? Yes, we can! Is this a good idea? I suppose I will use my imagination to come up with a better one soon :)