The Drupal Learning Platform Landscape

There are several distributions of Drupal being released to meet the needs of education and educators and I wanted to showcase some of those here to give you an idea of what’s happening in the Drupal-Education realm.

Right now there are 4 distributions that have all been released within the last several months whose goal is either to server or target educators in some way.  The four I’ll be covering today are EduGlu, ELMS, Open Scholar, and Voicebox.  I’ll talk briefly about what each of them look to do, who they are targeting, and why this is great for everybody (including the projects themselves).

Full-disclosure, I am the lead developer for the ELMS Distribution / platform.

Distribution Description
Eduglu Elegant social learning software that helps groups learn together.
ELMS ELMS is a staff empowerment system built “For instructional designers, by instructional designers.”. It’s primary goal is to remove barriers between learning designers and technology to improve the quality of instructional materials.
Open Scholar A full-featured open-source web site-creation package designed for the academic community. A single Open Scholar installation can host thousands of personal or project sites.
Voice Box Our project targets community media, and seeks to lower the barrier to entry for communities looking to collaborate with other like-minded groups via the web. One of the uses for our work will be within journalism, but other uses include collaborative creation of open courseware.

So how do these 4 different distributions help one another?  It’s somewhat counter-intuitive.  That they would be good for one another.  I mean, after all, aren’t they all trying to do similar things?  Don’t they want to “win” or make the more money then the others?

I would argue no for 2 main reasons:

  1. Often times open source makes money from the services side, not the code created
  2. All of these systems are built off of Organic groups and Spaces, which means cool functionality in one project could potentially be repurposed and added to another.

Organic groups and Spaces (and Features) allow Drupal to make 1 site appear as many so I know at least personally I’ve been drawing a lot of inspiration from the other 3 projects now that ELMS is Groups based.  I’m excited to see how things pan out for all these distributions and developers over the coming months / years but it is definitely an exciting time to be looking at Drupal as an educator!

This post (http://groups.drupal.org/node/108219) also has some modules that are being used and the educational application of each.  Look for more great things from all these projects in the coming months!