A couple of months ago after an OLPC Austria meetup nubae and me were thinking about which major components were missing from the larger OLPC / Sugar eco-system. One of the projects we were discussing at the time was taking a bunch of great learning materials from a former teacher and scanning them to make them available to the general public. We realized that we had no idea where we would put the images once we had them scanned. As a result of the discussion I started looking at some Web based content management solutions but soon got distracted by other projects.
Several months later I find myself in the OLE Nepal offices in Kathmandu again trying to find a solution for content management within an educational context. In my opinion a suitable solution for Educational Content Management has to address the following requirements:
- the ability to handle tens if not hundreds of thousands of multimedia objects
- easy to search so existing objects can be quickly retrieved
- a version control mechanism, especially for text documents which tend to undergo a lot of revisions
- the ability to define workflows with the simplest one of them being the review of an object
- support for metadata that goes beyond what normal file formats offer
- allow for batch processing (upload, download, tagging, etc.)
- preferably based on software people already know, e.g. a browser or file explorer
Software development, especially in environments with hundreds or thousands of independent contributors such as open source, wouldn't be possible today without solid source code management solutions. However while facing similar challenges as software development a lot of content development today is still done in a way that's very similar to how programs were developed before the arrival of tools like CVS, git or SVN.
I strongly believe that there are a lot of scenarios where effective ECM could really make it quite a bit easier to create educational content based on already available materials. Some of the most obvious examples are OLE Nepal's E-Paath efforts, the Karma project and of course the larger OLPC and SugarLabs initiatives.
Now in the past week I spent some time evaluating one potential solution, Alfresco, but unfortunately I have hit some roadblocks with it. I'd therefore be very interested in your suggestions for and experiences with other Enterprise Content Management products that could be used as an Educational Content Management solution which meets the requirements discussed at the beginning of the article. edu-git anyone?
You can find the original blog post that this article is based on over on the OLE Nepal blog.