Thursday, August 5, 2010

Google CloudCourse

by Susan Codone


Google's new release of CloudCourse, its new internal learning platform, hasn't drawn much press attention, but it is being tried out by both corporate and educational users.  Read Write Web reports that CloudCourse is built on Google's App Engine and is a course-scheduling tool, fully integrated with Google Calendar.  CloudCourse also includes approval processes, wait list management, and room and user profile information and can be synced with internal systems that users may have.  The intended audience for CloudCourse is the corporate e-learning market, but educators are taking a look at the application as well.

Read Write Web reports an interview with Irwin Boutoul, a software engineer at Google, who says that Google didn't design the system with universities in mind, instead building it as a course scheduling tool for business enterprises.  Nevertheless, Google would like to see universities pick up this platform and code additional features on top of it to make it more relevant to the higher education market.

CloudCourse does not yet contain all the functionality that will make it an alternative to the other LMS systems available.  Since the source code is open, businesses and universities are free to explore and build upon the application, improving it along the way.  Google itself says that CloudCourse allows anyone to create and track learning activities.  It also offers sync service, to sync CloudCourse to users' internal systems, room info service, to schedule classes in different locations, and user info services, to look up user profiles.  It was developed in Python, using the Django web application framework and the Closure Javascript library.

Irwin Boutboul and Phaneendhar Vemuru, the leaders of the CloudCourse software engineering team, say that they developed CloudCourse to:

  • Provide a course scheduling system fully integrated with Google services
  • Demonstrate what it takes to build an application using App Engine

By releasing CloudCourse as open source, they hope that developers may want to port or build enterprise applications on App Engine.  CloudCourse is available for download and you can join the CloudCourse mailing list.

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