We distinguish between platforms and portals.
- A course platform is the combination of a database schema and the programs that act upon its instances. The schema is used to define and realize the data storage structure for the course content, the users, their course activities etc.
- A course portal is a combination of a factual database containing dynamic information about courses and the presentation and access layer that informs the users about these courses and lets them sign up. A portal may thus provide access to courses on several platforms. In other cases the portal is built on top of a particular course platform.
We also distinguish between Learning Management System (LMS), Content Management System (CMS) and Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI).
- A Content Management System handles the production, storage and delivery of textual content, i.e. online courses, ebooks, multimedia learning objects etc.
- A Learning Management System handles users and their interactions with one or mor CMS’s. Most LMS’s are tightly integrated with a CMS and vica versa.
- Learning Tools Interoperability is a feature that enables an LMS to fetch and deliver to its users content from other CMS’s (=’consumer’) and inversely, – that a CMS may expose and deliver its content to a different LMS (=’provider’).
There are many other viable alternatives in addition to WordPress and edX. Examples are Coursera (Stanford) which is a platform-portal combo, Future-learn (The Open University in UK) which is a portal, the Instructure Canvas Network which is a portal for courses on the Canvas platform, OpenUpEd (European Union) which is a course portal and Google Coursebuilder which is an open proprietary course platform on Google servers. The field is crowded and will be “pruned”.
The common denomitator for such systems is that they serialize educational material and enhance them with interaction designs.
This is also a feature of ebooks in the ePub format. MOOCs and ebooks are variants of the same functionalities and we are working with exchange formats and translation mechanisms between them.