Building the greatest educational groupware

On one hand I would really like to file a lawsuit against creators and supporters of groupware like fronter, because I find myself damaged. Damaged by bad UX, bad integration and proprietary, not transparent restrictions.

On the other hand, I’d just like to create something awesome, that renders all this obsolete and even build a company around it.

We don’t need another social network

We need independently hosted content, that everybody can connect to, using what ever service they like.

It shouldn’t be fancy new dream tech to get a notification on facebook if your professor uploads readings for next week thursday.

Independent File and Content Delivery

I’ve seen universities abuse the shit out of mass-emailing, having their own and very expensive intranets, which didn’t secure anything and ended up using facebook for organising everything. Thereby exposing information that some students objected to, but nothing was given for their opinion.

We just need a platform that stores files and news, able to distribute them as the user prefers. Also it needs to be super easy.

chaining it up with social media

This should rather be called: Enable your users to do what ever the fuck they want to do.

If they want to get a direct message on twitter or an invite on facebook for an event, let them have it!

If they want to share not classified information on the web and tell about how amazing their lecture was? Let them do it!

If a student wants to automatically receive all their material synched to Dropbox, let them have it!

Like a Sphere

It should have infinite points to touch the outside world with for the purpose of exchanging data.

Connecting different installations of this software should be easy for interdisciplinary collaboration between schools or universities. Like some of my favourite projects of decentralisation or diaspora.

Adapting to the user

Embracing the aspiring mobile devices, it would be great to have a platform that scales meaningfully to these clients and that could have built-in support for parsing all the ugly Microsoft Office documents like Google Docs does or at even shape an alternative to them.

The owner of an installation should be able to pick which modules to enable or even which interface to use by default.

The Challenge of not Bloating

Feature rich but not bloated requires some people very, very skilled at UI and UX to do this, I’d probably make it look like Star Trek with a bazillion buttons or just put a terminal emulation in the browser to realise such a goal.

The Challenge of Needs

Everybody has different needs, but we somehow need to fight fragmentation of versions in deployment, dependencies of modules and interoperability of those, which can get a lot harder when you have 500 volunteers working on a project, rather than one company. However open source projects have shown that they have cracked these issues and bloomed.

The Challenge of Interest

Telling people that they should migrate when this project reaches a state near done will not only be hard because they tend to mistrust open source, but also because they’re probably stuck in a 100 year contract with one of the companies this project could kill.

Open Group Wares now

There’s a couple of candidates that are in production a lot of places and can be deployed by any institution, like horde or the tailored for studies in Germany studIP.

Neither of them I found very fun to work with:


It’s a functionality monster, capable of many, many things. Due to it’s size it would be a big task to deploy it and make it do exactly what you want though.


Exclusively German and not very pretty or connectable.

Are there any Sponsors or Contributors out there?

Right now I have no idea where to begin at estimating costs.

I have a vague idea of that this probably could be a good project to do with node.js and a NoSQL database to sync, shard and scale at fast pace.

I just want to hear from everyone who reads this if you’re happy with your current group ware or school/university infrastructure, no matter if you’re student or teacher.

Also if anyone would be interested to contribute or invest in such a project. Crowdfunding would be an interesting way to start on something like this.

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