John Graham gave a presentation and demo of Open Source Software for Education and Science at yesterday's meeting of the EOE. I was blown away.

John walked us through a free content management system he'd configured in Zope (more on Zope below; it's a framework for building web applications.) Not coded, but downloaded and installed. We saw an extensible, relational database system. Very flexible. Very cool. Topics can hold documents, images, blogs, webpages, syndicate feeds, etc., etc., etc. John edited images online, put in an ISBN and started a discussion on the book entry that popped up, and more.

    Question: Is there documentation? Answer: A lot of these products are only 2 to 3 days old.

    Question: What does this run on?
    Answer: It's truly interoperable. Linux, Solaris, Windows. As of last week, Zope enterprise objects enables you to replicate into Oracle and other databases.

I drew this graphic nearly two years ago. I think its time is almost here. There is no reason eLearning has to be exorbitantly expensive.

The Open Source movement is an amazing effort. I'm glad to see another example of an innovative, robust product coming out of the environment. I plan to devote some time to getting to know more about Zope and its Open Source brethren.

From The Zope Book

What Is Zope?
Zope is a framework for building web applications. A web application is a computer program that users access with a web browser over the Internet. You can also think of a web application as a dynamic web site that provides not only static information to users but lets them use dynamic tools to work with an application.

From a business perspective, there are three key ideas to understanding what Zope can do for you: powerful collaboration, simple content management, and web components.

Zope History
In 1996 Jim Fulton, the CTO of Zope Corporation and Python guru, was drafted to teach a class on CGI programming, despite not knowing much about the subject. Jim studied all of the existing documentation on CGI on his way to the class. On the way back from the class, Jim considered what he didn't like about traditional CGI based programming environments: its fragility, lack of object-orientation, and how it exposes web server details. From these initial musings, the core of Zope was written on the plane flight back from the class.

ZopeNewbies blog



Squishdot is a popular weblog, written in Zope

John Graham is an innovator in the technical field of broadband and wireless collaboration technologies. He is a member of the Board of Directors for Schooltone Alliance, and the director of Project LearningBird. John is one of the founding members of the Ohio Consortium for Advanced Communication Technology who operate NASA's Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) for educational events and research. John founded BroadWare Co. to provide solutions that address the demand for audio and video capabilities over the Internet. As the company's chief technologist, John is responsible for the technical vision of the company. Prior to launching BroadWare in 1996, John provided a variety of consulting services to a broad client base on corporate Internet and Intranet architecture and implementation. He spearheaded large consulting projects for Sun Microsystems and Access Media. John was the Technical Coordinator for the 24 Hours in Cyberspace project, the largest international event for interactive communications and publishing on the Internet and was technology advisor for the 3Com Planet Project in 2000, a global poll on a variety of subjects. Prior to his consulting work, John held positions as the Systems Engineer and Scientist for Park Scientific Instruments, where he collaborated on the design of scanning probe microscopes and traveled worldwide to speak on the subject. Graham participated in, managed or launched the following projects:

Scanning Probing Microscopy Industrial Associates Program Laboratory at the Arizona State University
Exploratorium 2002 Belize Bio-diversity Laboratory Visit.
Exploratorium CERN Anti-matter Decelerization Ring Robot Camera
Jet Propulsion Laboratories Deep Space Probe Network Robot Camera
Jet Propulsion Laboratories Marsyard Robot Camera
Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope Robot Camera
AAEM TelePresence Microscopy Site Materials MicroCharacterization Collaboratory
PlanetFest 1997 Mars Pathfinder Landing
PlanetFest 1999 Mars Polar Lander

Posted by Jay Cross at January 9, 2003 10:54 PM | TrackBack

Zope has been the most interesting content management tool around in the open source space. I have always been curious about elearning applications since the the heart of elearning is content management or rearranging various existing materials and new training around learning objectives. I didn't know there where examples of elearning Zope implementations. I'd just seen the newspaper publishers etc.

Please point to some Zope elearning examples as you describe.


Posted by: Mark Satterlee at January 10, 2003 12:50 PM

Mark, we looked at Zope's capabilities, not a functioning eLearning implementation. Hope I didn't mislead you there.


Posted by: Jay at January 10, 2003 09:35 PM

Hi Jay...I've been using Zope for a while...it's a great product.

Recently, I've started using a content management system built on Zope/CMF. The product is Plone (www.plone.org)...it's somewhat mature, and does most of what we need for content management. Interestingly, a group has been started (www.eduzope.org) that will create a LCMS using Plone and Zope.

With some effort, zope could easily become a tool to emulate capabilities of most LMS'...with better content management, better customization, and increased support from the open source movement.

If you don't mind, let me know how your experimentation goes with zope...perhaps their is opportunity for us to dialogue about Zope's (and open source in general) application to learning.

(As always, your on the front line Jay...:))

Posted by: George Siemens at January 13, 2003 08:12 AM

Zope is seemingly all over the place in education - but usually its work is invisible beneath the surface of the web (a good thing for a CMS framework!)

There are simple-ish websites such as ours (http://www.cetis.ac.uk) but also entire LMSs developed in Zope, such as the very interesting FLE3 Future Learning Environment (http://fle3.uiah.fi/) product from Finland.

I come from an EJB/Oracle/n-tier development background and I was impressed by just how quick and easy (=cheap) Zope is to develop for.

- S

Posted by: Scott Wilson at January 28, 2003 07:24 AM

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