Athabasca Landing

MOOC portable mini

MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses can be run from cloud services, servers, and local hard server (1).  The MOOC software can be complex using a mix of technologies to deliver a web interface.

Distance education via the Internet tends to have several common core data attributes:

  1. messaging
  2. files
  3. administration
  4. network port

Messaging can be synchronous or asychronous that includes: email, forums, chat, teleconference, and whiteboard.

Files are what the messages become including documents, web pages (blog, wiki, html, xhtml, php, etcetera…).  Files may arguably be considered the source of data, whereas messaging is a transient data entry stage resulting in files.

Administration is required to organize and manage the data and the users of the data. Courses, lessons, and membership are examples of organization of the data.

A network port is the software/hardware required between the human and data interface for a communication commons.  Network communications include modem communication to a server port, and Internet communications.

Attempts at addressing interoperability of content include SCORM (2) and integrators applications (3).

However, what if you wish independance, portability, and ‘near’ future proofing?

A mini MOOC is possible with the available open-source content management systems such as Drupal and WordPress.  WordPress offers free plugins that will assist in building an administrative framework.  In addition there are several commercial LMS plugins for WordPress to achieve a similar but lite version of Moodle.  Drupal offers both distributions and modules that can be developed as MOOCS.

The disadvantages to Drupal and WordPress (and Moodle) are the dependencies on other applications to function such as a database engine (i.e., MYSQL), and scripting engine (i.e., PHP).  Hence, there are many layers of programs required to achieve a course lesson.  Fortunately all the programming layers are open source and can be assembled into one virtual data file; which is important for archival sustainability (4ab).


It is possible to create a portable MOOC using a self-contained mobile server.  The challenges for developing such a package includes stability, accessibility, transparency, and goals for the MOOC.



1. Massive open online course,

2. Sharable Content Object Reference Model,

3. Tin Can API,

4a. “Google’s Vint Cerf warns of ‘digital Dark Age'”, Pallab Ghosh,

4b. “Digital Vellum and the Expansion of the Internet into the Solar System”,


Athabasca Landing

December 11, 2013 – 5:10pm

I wonder what happened when Eaton’s first sent out a catalogue instead of having customers come inside the store?  Was that a radical departure from the closed shop protectionistic fears of the day?  A catalogue exposed all the products and prices of the goods.  There was no haggling or under the counter trading, just acceptance of what was.

Perhaps that is what Canadian educational institutions will have to go through with LMS.  The paradigm shift from a closed shop to an open shop is not a lot different from joining the edu-mall with an open catalogue.  The accreditation doesn’t change, the content will inevitably be forced to be current with quality, and the delivery will still require dedicated and savy DE educators.

So what’s stopping educational institutions from moving to Canvas LMS now?  The evolution of the service is at a level of usefulness that I find hard to ignore.  The platform is open-source so future proofing is possible.

Certainly commercial lobbyist ala politicians have no doubt played a part in the digital landscape of Canada, however, as taxpayers, do you really want to be paying for software applications that are freely available and in many ways are better; rather than allocating funding towards human resources for content design, development, and delivery?

Simon Fraser University, Lethbridge College, and many others are now seeing the potential of the MOOC; and if done right, will succeed.