A brand new learning platform built by students: what do teachers want?

Hi there, my name's Alain Meyer, and I attend Zurich International School.

A group of 3 students, including myself, are programming a learning platform to take on the likes of Moodle, Blackboard, Sakai etc. Our product is coming along very well, and I wanted to get some opinions from educators as to what the most important features are to them.

We're attempting to focus on ease of use; so tell me, what is most important to you in online learning systems?

PS. if you're curious about our software, check out http://smartlyedu.com. We'll be sending out an email this weekend with more information.

Thanks!

Tags: built, by, education, learning, online, platform, smartly, smartlyedu, students

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What language are you using?
Ruby on Rails

Are you making it open source?
No, but it has an open (read: free) extension system.

Why not contribute to an existing open source project?
Because they are so far gone by now. I have an entirely new direction that I'd like to take it, and unless I were given permission to take over an open source project, there's no way I could get done what I want done. The entire system at the moment is essentially flawed, so we're starting again with a very clean code base.

Thanks for the feedback, very helpful!
1. No, open source doesn't support the direction we want to go: we're making it an entirely hosted solution. We have certain ideas which can only be carried out on a hosted solution. As far as getting people's information is concerned and hooking into information systems, we'll have it covered.

2. We're going to be using MongoDB, but that's just for us.

3. We have no plans to incorporate a chat system, but we've already created one for a past project, so including one wouldn't be a big deal.
1. SSL across the board, hosted on Rackspace cloud servers as well as Amazon S3. So it'll automatically scale :)

2. Our SLA is exactly the same as Amazon's: http://aws.amazon.com/s3-sla/

3. Not worried; they're not offering the same deal of stuff as us. And I find their suite to be bloated.

4. We don't host on 1and1, we just purchased the domain with them.

5. We allow custom domain use and customization tools built in.

Any other questions? :) We'll be sending out newsletters from now on, so if you haven't already subscribed, go to smartlyedu.com
Alright, if you have any more, I'm always here. I do have a question for you though, what is your reason for not wanting to use an externally hosted solution?

If the software provided you with enough incentive, would you ever consider a hosted solution (granted you saw that what's being done with the software could never be done if you hosted it)?
Oh trust me, student opinion shines through in this software. The entire front end is pretty much only things students actually care about and find useful. They are, after all, the people who will be using it to learn. The backend is designed in conjunction with teachers to be as easy as possible. We know a big problem with current solutions is teachers find it too slow or complicated to post anything. So we plan to fix that.

I'm not going to go too deep in right now as far as details are concerned, but in our emails we'll be showing some screenshots of the product soon. We believe in making very pretty software, since it motivates people to use it.

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