I saw the most recent announcement from WordPress this morning regarding the latest, stable version of WPMU (ver. 1.0 -a milestone) and the integration of a phpbb forum with WordPress, known as bbpress. Both of these developments are really exciting for many reasons, but I am going to take a minute here about bbpress in particular, for I have already installed it and played with it a bit (I am going to have to play with WPMU some more before I can say anything worthwhile). The integration of a forum like phpbb into WordPress marks the beginning of what I believe will be some of the most important developments over the next year for open source communities, i.e., more seamless integration between third party applications like WordPress, MediaWiki, Moodle, phpBB, Drupal, Typo3, etc. The ability for these applications to talk with one another and share a database of common users makes the possibilities for integrating all of these technologies into a virtual learning environment increasingly more streamlined and manageable.
I have talked a lot about the flexibility of these open source applications enhancing, if not replacing, higher education’s current addiction to closed, static, and patented course management systems. The loose integration of these disparate tools through some manageable authentication procedure that does not require a password for every application, like Typo3’s Single-SignOn, preserves the individual applications independence and integrity -while making the movement between them fluid. Recoding a program like phpBb from scratch to work with WordPress is great, but I wonder if the integration process would not even require that much work? All the same, this is a great day for the open source possibilities for education. I am all the more certain (and that is now very, very, very certain:) these days that such applications, loosely bound, are the wave of the future for instructional technology.