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CourseWork at Stanford University

CourseWork ( is an open source, modular course Web site development and distribution system, commonly termed a course management system (CMS), that was developed by Stanford University and is the primarily CMS in use today at the University. CourseWork is designed both for faculty with little Web experience, who will be able to develop their course Web site quickly, and for expert Web-users, who can organize complex, Web-based materials and link them to Coursework's communication, authorization, and assessment tools. Using CourseWork, instructors and TAs can set up a course Web site that displays announcements, online readings, a dynamic syllabus and schedule, online assignments and quizzes, a discussion forum for students, and a grade book.

CourseWork was developed as part of the Open Knowledge Initiative. In undertaking this project, Stanford's goal was to create a system for developing and managing academic Web sites that:

  • Offers a scalable, extensible, and supportable option for hosting course materials and activities.
  • Allows full system access to simplify integration with enterprise campus functions such as authentication, file servers, and student information systems.
  • Allows integration with other elements of educational support, including the Libraries.
  • Provides faculty with a platform on which discipline and course-specific activities (e.g., simulations, tests, visualizations, tutorials, etc.) can be developed and hosted.
  • Supports non-teaching academic functions (e.g., advising, tutoring, course evaluations, residential education).
  • Provides students with a common point of access for course activities and course materials.

CourseWork was developed to meet the needs of Stanford faculty, as well as to offer an open source alternative for other schools.

The next generation of CourseWork will be developed as part of the Sakai Project. The components of the CourseWork, CHEF (Michigan) and Oncourse (Indiana) projects will be redeployed into a modular course management and portal environment.

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