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Course Data Needs to Open Up

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.

3 Responses to “Course Data Needs to Open Up”

  1. Jeff Bohrer February 1, 2008 at 1:09 pm #

    I think the biggest reason “opening course data” won’t take off is privacy (FERPA) issues. Course membership data is private/protected data (according to the U.S.) and institutions cannot make that available outside their institution — or even within the same institution in many cases.

  2. Tony Hirst February 3, 2008 at 2:25 am #

    In the UK, a group has been looking at developing this sort of course info, using the schema name XCRI

  3. mpstaton March 5, 2008 at 9:51 am #

    Cool. Thanks guys.

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