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LMS - Learning Management Systems

Learning Management Systems

Faculty require tremendous functionality, flexibility, and customization in a learning management system—coupled with ease of use. Three MIT initiatives provide this to Institute faculty and students, and beyond.

.LRN ("dot learn") is a worldwide enterprise-class open-source software for supporting learning and research. Its flexible architecture takes advantage of modularized educational computing applications and reusable components, allowing software to be shared within the university and across institutions. Originally developed at MIT, .LRN is used by nearly half a million people in more than 18 countries at educational institutions and non-profit organizations and in government and business.

.LRN has enabled institutions of all sizes to create a shared online learning community. It combines an "out-of-the-box" suite of collaborative applications, a robust infrastructure, a flexible toolset, and a high-performance, highly scalable open architecture. Specifically, it includes calendar, discussion forum, homework, subgroup email, bulk mail, news, FAQ, survey, document, and file storage options. Language barriers are practically nonexistent since .LRN is readily available in 14 languages to date. Moreover, .LRN provides a significantly lower total cost of ownership than custom or commercial solutions.

Although software with a similar mission has enabled online learning communities to thrive in the past, .LRN extends the concept. By making the platform and applications open-source, innovators world-wide not only can adapt .LRN to suit their content needs, but also are encouraged to add to .LRN as the industry and cultural demands change in the years to come.

Stellar is designed specifically to support individual courses at MIT, providing a framework for posting course content and other materials on the web. Using familiar software, such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, or MATLAB©, faculty can create documents, then upload them to the web site, where web pages generate automatically. Faculty can easily manage content and control access; students can initiate and join discussions and search the entire course site. Stellar is used by the Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA) distance learning initiative, among programs at MIT.

Stellar allows instructors to pace the development of their course content. They can put up the entire course with all its readings and assignments at the start of the semester, or they can add or change information throughout the term. In addition to posting course materials, faculty can point to existing web resources using URLs, or type in text for short announcements.

Course material posted to Stellar can be easily imported to MIT's OpenCourseWare site for open sharing of MIT course content to educators and self-learners around the country, and around the world.

SloanSpace is an integrated suite of open source applications for eLearning. Designed to support research and learning communities at the MIT Sloan School, it includes a portal framework supporting distributed collaborative communities, and Web-based modules supporting course management and online communities. Using SloanSpace, faculty can place tests online, provide chat rooms and shared whiteboards, and send internal course email, all while controlling access with secure logins. Faculty remain in control of their material, and there is lots of customization, including private lockers and collaboration space—even private collaboration space. While developed at Sloan, several MIT departments outide of the Sloan School use SloanSpace. In addition, approximately 240 other online communities, such as student groups and industry partners also use this system.


Vijay Kumar

Dr. Vijay Kumar is the Assistant Provost and Director of Academic Computing, IS&T at MIT. In this role, he provides strategic leadership for units engaged in delivering infrastructure and services to support educational technology activities: Academic Computing in Information Services and Technology (IS&T) and Academic Media Production Services (AMPS).

Vijay is the Principal Investigator of OKI (Open Knowledge Initiative), an MIT-led collaborative project to develop an open architecture for enterprise educational applications. He is also a member of the Council on Educational Technology (MITCET), the steering committee of iCampus, the MIT-Microsoft initiative, and the Advisory Committee of MIT OpenCourseware (OCW).

His extensive engagement with professional organizations includes serving as a member of the Applications Strategy Council for Internet2, the Advisory Board for GELC (Global Educational Learning Community), and on the governing boards of several educational organizations.

Vijay has taught courses in Future Studies, Instructional Computing, and Data Communications. He holds a PhD in Education, an MS in Industrial Management and a BTech in Chemical Engineering.

Alfred Essa

Alfred Essa is Executive Director and Founder of .LRN, the world's most widely adopted enterprise-class open source software for supporting learning and research. He was formerly Chief Information Officer (CIO) at MIT's Sloan School of Management, where he responsible for providing overall leadership, management, and strategy for MIT Sloan's information technology and educational technology operations and initiatives. Alfred was also the principal investigator of iLearn, a research effort to explore next generation frameworks for Learning Management Systems. iLearn is funded by iCampus, a five-year research alliance between MIT and Microsoft Research to enhance university education through information technology.

Vijay Kumar
Alfred Essa
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
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