Since I’ve been working on Courses on Facebook, a lot of other web application developers with interest in the education market have approached us hoping to tap into “courses”, to make their product available to our users in the context of participating in their courses. From turning camera photos into scanners, to a virtual whiteboard, there are lots of developers out there trying to make innovative products.
However, it is difficult for most of these applications to gain traction due to a “brick wall” around course data. All accurate course data is closed, kept for school use only. As a result, the only software available that can be used in courses has to be marketed from the top down. Either that, or users have to be so compelled to use the product that they enter and clean data on their own, which is rare. As a result, much of the developer talent avoids the education space.
What if course data and even course membership data could be open? There could be XML tags around them, including <uni_name> <term_name> <term_start> <term_end> <school> <program> <department> <course_title> <course_code> <primary_instructor><instructor id=n>
Opening course data could remove the “brick wall” and increase user adoption of numerous web applications trying to create better or even new ways of sharing information in and around courses.