Help me choose a platform for delivering educational programs
March 21, 2014 4:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for the best online platform to deliver educational content. It should incorporate content delivery, goal setting and tracking, collaboration tools, and community engagement. Cost is not an issue.

Hi everyone,

I work for a company that provides professional development education. Formerly done largely with workshops, seminars, etc, we have been moving towards delivering more and more content online, and promoting the community engagement.

As this has evolved over the last three or four years, it has been a rather ad-hoc development resulting in a messy mix of many different products - Kajabi for content delivery, Ning for community, and currently the accountability is simply a planning spreadsheet emailed from student to mentor. Wed like to consolidate our entire operation into a single hub, if possible, and we want to avoid bespoke code development as much as we can.

Content delivery - video (we use Wistia), text, various file downloads. Preferably this would allow "staged release" of content over the duration of a course (a capability of Kajabi).

Goal setting and tracking - Our students track their progress over 90 day blocks. At the beginning of the 90 days, they commit to a major project, then set milestones and sub-tasks that will contribute to achieving that major goal by the end of the 90 days. This is a key component, and needs to be configurable (IE, the student logs in and sees that Major Project A requires Spreadsheet X, Timeline Y, and Task List Z to be completed in order to proceed).

Collaboration - Each student is assigned a mentor who closely monitors their progress, and has access to all of their goal tracking data. The faculty members also need access to the data of the cohort. We want all of this to be displayed in a dashboard-style interface (ie, progress meters to show how far along the student has progressed in the project).

Community - Every 90 days, the entire faculty meets in person for a seminar/workshop, where a really good community atmosphere is generated. We want to carry that atmosphere into the online platform as much as possible. IE, people congratulating each other for reaching key milestones, etc. This currently happens on Ning, but is not driven by any automated system (IE, it's driven entirely by people publicly posting the successes - usually the mentor celebrating their student).

I was advised to look into Bloomfire, and subsequently found this page which demonstrates that there are a lot of potential packages available. If anyone can help me narrow down the options, I'd really appreciate it. Cost is, for the most part, not an issue.

posted by autocol to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The two major players in out-of-the-box online education software are Blackboard (majorly expensive and usually for big institutions) and Moodle (open source, requires dedicated developer resources). From my own usage, I'd recommend the latter.

There are definitely others though!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:58 PM on March 21, 2014

Yes to Blackboard, but I'd add Canvas, and Desire2Learn as the two other major players. Moodle is a bit less corporate probably.
posted by idb at 5:06 PM on March 21, 2014

Here is an open source software called Moodle It is a online learning tool. Has some of the functionality as the aforementioned Blackboard. see if you like it. You may better be able to tailor it for your specific needs than something that comes out of the box.
posted by Jewel98 at 8:23 PM on March 21, 2014

Yeah have a look at moodle and see if the way it organises things can be integrated with your vision. Setting up a vanilla Moodle for a small number of concurrent users is easy and cheap.

Something like this looks fine, could probably be done for cheaper. If you have a reasonable IT department they can do it for you easily.

But it depends on how many people you want to service and how much of a budget for customizations you have. For a vanilla site and off the shelf plugins you'll be looking at about $5k per year to service a school of 250 students, assuming enthusiastic usage across the school.

Things for you to think about anyway. Avoid blackboard, it's extortionately priced and some say the business has quesitonable ethics.
posted by singingfish at 3:58 AM on March 22, 2014

Wow, Blackboard really sucks. I wouldn't just jump to a quick decision on these.
posted by xammerboy at 11:17 AM on March 22, 2014

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