Forum OpenACS Q&A: eLearning Platform on OpenACS

Posted by Alfred Essa on
I am pleased to announce that we (MIT Sloan School of Management) are
working with OpenForce to develop an opensource elearning platform
called .LRN. The first release of .LRN will have all of the
functionality of the current ACES but will also include additional
modules in support of ecommerce, event management, and collaboration.
We expect to have a web site up by the end of next week with more
information. We look forward to working together with the opensource
community on this exciting project.
Posted by David Kuczek on
Some people have impatiently waited for this... Sounds a little bit like .NET though. Maybe we will find some information on the marketing strategy next week, too :-)

Coincidentally Microsoft has just released news on a .NET environment for academical use:

From now on we will surely have a new neighbor in that game...

Posted by Don Baccus on
Your response to Al is most unkind.  Yes, people have been waiting impatiently for this.  My understanding is that it has taken time for OpenForce and Sloan to work out contract details.  This is not abnormal in the world of software contracts.

Sloan asked to make the announcement themselves, a request which those of us who knew about the pending deal honored.  I would hope that no one has a problem with this - it's a standard part of doing business in the real world.

Let me be the first to offer my congratulations to Open Force and a hearty "welcome aboard!" to Sloan.  This is exciting news - the first funding for a "vertical application" of the sort we've discussed in other forums.

Sloan/MIT will be running on the OpenACS 4 platform.  Not that other platform soon to be released by the previous ACES vendor.  This is going to *greatly* increase exposure for the toolkit and will do nothing but enhance the credibility of our efforts at

Posted by Michael Feldstein on
This is an exciting and eagerly awaited announcement. Kudos to
all involved for moving the platform (and the world of online
education) forward.

We all look forward to getting the additional details as they
become available.

Posted by Rafael Calvo on
Congratulations to Sloan and OpenForce. This is a great project and be confident that you will have a lot of support from the community.

.LRN (powered by OpenACS) will have a great future!

Posted by David Kuczek on
Oh, I didn't mean to be unkind...

I meant: Great - That's what we were waiting for, let's go!!!

Wittgenstein already knew about those linguistic errors...

Posted by Don Baccus on
OK, my apologies then, sorry for my misunderstanding.

As far as MS and .NET and the education market goes, we know that MS plans to use .NET to take over what's left of the computing world, so I'm not surprised.  We can't do much about it other than to do our best to build a good platform, to evanglize, and hope that MS doesn't succeed in tying the world into Passport and other proprietary services that more or less force folks into running Win+IIS.

Even if they do, OpenACS will run on that platform, I just can't stand the thought of having to do so!

Posted by Rich Graves on
Will you be using Oracle or PostgreSQL?

Any preliminary thoughts about IMS standards or other ways of importing legacy content from WebCT? I don't think this is an issue for you but it would be considered a showstopper by some folks here.

Posted by Don Baccus on
Sloan/MIT uses Oracle - they've got a site license so switching to Postgres would actually cost them money in terms of setting up administrative stuff and all that, plus Oracle works great for them so there's no motivation for them to switch.

Bug Ben for details ... the work will be done in the OpenACS framework, so porting over to Postgres won't be hard.  And I'm sure the folks doing the work will try to use vanilla SQL92 constructs wherever possible and avoid Oracle-isms whenever they can.

Porting to another DB, while tedious and timeconsuming, requires just a fraction of the effort that fresh implementation does.  A positive way of looking is to remember that this effort will be covering 100% of the time required to together the Oracle version, and probably on the order of 90% of the time required to do the PostgreSQL version.

Most of the work is initial implementation, and a large proportion of the queries can be shared directly will require little work to rewrite.

Posted by Malte Sussdorff on
Hello Al and OpenForce,

just wanted to give you a headsup that we are installing ACES for a student organization and improving some of the cvs code from AD (though we are not using the MIT favoured Threaded BBoard but an Email enabled version of the bboard).

So, if you are doing a port of the ACES funktioniality, we might hand you over some improved code or at least more ideas.

Posted by Rich Graves on
"an Email enabled version of the bboard"

We were about to start on that, since threaded-bboard sucks. Could you post the code somewhere?

The main innovation of that's generally useful is site-wide dynamic templating using ad_partner code. It's really quite trivial, for the 2-line patch against 3.4.10 see

Performance is excellent (essentially zero mariginal impact, assuming you're already using doc_return) and the effects can be dramatic.

12: code! (response to 1)
Posted by Rocael Hernández Rizzardini on
Malte please post or send us your code, we were also just starting to work on that!

Rich I couldn't access your website. Can you send me your code...

is your dynamic templating useful in the portals of the education system?


Posted by Rich Graves on
Yeah, we were without power for 3 hours, and the UPS lasts 30 min. You ought to be able to get to now. CVSweb is linked from the top page.

Um, come to think of it, the change was easy only because of some MASSIVE hacks by Ybos. Essentially they had a perl script replace every ad_return with doc_return. They were supposed to release and support it on their site about 9 months ago but I guess I'll have to post a snapshot from ours or figure out whether I really want to run anonymous CVS. A couple weeks before new student arrival, it's not high on my priorities.

The bad news is that no form of templating will work with the ACES 1.x/2.x portals code. It uses its own rudimentary per-group-colors system.