In use by nearly half a million users, the .LRN platform was orginally developed to support universities, and now we also use it with schools, businesses and non-profit organisations.
[Caroline Meeks, Solution Grove]

University of Heidelberg

About the University of Heidelberg

The University of Heidelberg is Germany's oldest university, with a long tradition of educational innovation and openness. A recognized leader in educational reform, Heidelberg leadership believes that a commitment to educational technology is critical to its continued success. Current and future generations of students entering Heidelberg have high expectations for educational technology supporting their academic experience. Heidelberg's mission is in line with the current climate in Europe; the German government is implementing significant reforms that reward universities for pursuing innovation in learning and research.

Why the University of Heidelberg chose .LRN

Heidelberg Medical Center and Computing Center originally teamed up to implement a standard e-learning platform from large commercial software vendor. The university ran several pilots in 2000, and went live with a number of courses in 2001.

Soon after its launch, Heidelberg faculty and administration recognized that the software was designed solely to support a North American educational paradigm. The adaptation to the European market did not reflect the examination of different educational approaches, and was limited to a one-to-one translation of the software. An inherent lack of flexibility ? and the inaccessibility of the code ? prevented Heidelberg from customizing the software to meet its needs. A sudden change in licensing resulting in exponential annual fee increase for existing functionality prompted Heidelberg to look for a flexible open source solution.

Since sharing new ways of teaching and learning across institutions and national borders is nothing new for universities, Heidelberg sought a technology that supported their approach. After examining several open source alternatives, Heidelberg found in .LRN the maturity to meet their day-to-day needs, and the flexibility to support the kind of educational innovation that is the Heidelberg tradition.

What the University of Heidelberg is doing with .LRN

Heidelberg is using .LRN to collaborate within and beyond the walls of the university. Today, .LRN is running 150 courses, and is accessed daily by 3,000 users. Currently, Heidelberg is rolling out .LRN to all 30,000 faculty, students, and staff. Deputy Director of Heidelberg's Computing Center Michael Hebgen is effusive about the results. ".LRN allows us to quickly react to user requests and change the application as needed." Hebgen said. "Most importantly, .LRN allows us to innovate with new features and functions, without waiting for -- and paying for -- a costly upgrade."

Heidelberg University has been heavily involved in .LRN development. Heidelberg University Medical School for example, financed the internationalization effort, the Assessment Package, Bug Tracker, Ticket Tracker, the Workflow Rewrite, and in cooperation with the Computing Center (and external institutions) contributed to the external authentication initiative.

Future plans for .LRN at the University of Heidelberg

Heidelberg is collaborating with several other .LRN institutions to create an assessment tool for release in 2005. Heidelberg also plans to integrate its registration enhancements into an upcoming version of .LRN.