While LON-CAPA-NG’s approach to providing an educational object economy is unique, we are operating in a competitive landscape of existing components. Each of these components, operating within their respective silos, has characteristics that our system components have to measure up against.

We have a sustainable advantage by providing an end-to-end solution for an educational object economy, which is based on 20 years of experience and research in assessment and learning content management, as well as patent pending innovations. The time and cost to replicate our work are exceptional. The competition is entrenched in providing solutions that are located in specific silos of the industry, while we are providing an integrated approach that crosses the content and platform industry – the best of both worlds, by educators for educators.

Learning Content LON-CAPA Course Management Systems
Textbook eText iTunesU® Online Homework Systems Digital Libraries BlackBoard XpLor® Corporate Open Source
WebAssign®, OWL®, Mastering®, … NSDL, Merlot, … BlackBoard®, Desire2Learn®, … Moodle, Sakai, …
Cost to Learner high high, no resale variable or free variable or bundled free free low or free free free
Cost to Institution free free free free free yet unclear low or free high free, but possibly high Total Cost of Ownership
Enterprise Level Support n/a no limited limited no yet unclear yes yes no, but service companies exist
Immediate Cross-Institutional Sharing of Faculty-Authored Content no no yes limited yes yet unclear yes no no
Content Quality high high variable high variable variable data-driven quality control n/a n/a
Platform Capability n/a variable limited variable weak yet unclear high high variable
Content Granularity course course variable course variable learning object learning object course, limited modularity with add-ons none
Licensing sold restrictive, time and location limited variable restrictive, time limited open open platform open, content variable incl. open proprietary open
Platform Technology n/a proprietary proprietary proprietary open proprietary open proprietary open
Homework Functionality n/a limited limited advanced no yes advanced yes yes
Homework CMS Integration no no no no no plugs into BlackBoard® controlled CMSs yes yes yes
Provides CMS Functionality no no no limited no plugs into BlackBoard® controlled CMSs yes yes yes
Campus Infrastructure Integration no no no no no plugs into BlackBoard® controlled CMSs optional optional, for service fee optional
Data-Driven Content Recommender no no no no no no yes no no


Some people claim that all educational content should be free and open, others claim that all free and open content is unreliable and of lesser quality. We would like to think that both of these extreme claims are wrong.

In LON-CAPA’s repository, granular content with different licenses just coexists: proprietary or Creative Commons, free or with associated payments. Digital rights management may have a bad reputation among some people, but it actually allows faculty to freely select and weave together appropriate content while ensuring that copyright and licenses are respected.

We thus accept content from various sources, and we expect a significant portion of the content to be faculty-generated and free.

In the end, it’s a free and open market. Faculty makes the choices. Let the better content win!

It’s possible!

In the LON-CAPA model system, faculty-generated content coexists with publisher-generated content, while working with the subject editors of all major textbook publishing companies.


For some course management systems, version 7.3 does not run homework problems that were written in version 7.2 without a lossy conversion process.

In our model system LON-CAPA, content that was written 13 years ago still works today. We are still running content that was written 20 years ago, where we did the conversion when the “LON-” was added to “CAPA.” We believe that we have stewardship responsibilities for the content entrusted to us, so we make sure that we can carry it into the future.

The same is true for what faculty has woven together: lower granularity assemblies of content like modules, chapters, assignments, and whole courses, need to remain reusable, so when faculty teaches a course again several years later, they can start where they left off.


LON-CAPA provides an end-to-end solution.

No, it is not exporting content cartridges. While a good idea in principle, those export formats come with limitations:

  • compatibility problems
  • functionality driven by the least common denominator of target systems
  • no usage information flows back once content was exported, so you do not have analytics or recommendation data
  • digital rights cannot be managed in a way that does not disrupt the user experience

In an apparently monolithic structure like this, how can you innovate? The structure itself needs to be modular, so that new content processes and business processes can be plugged into the existing infrastructure.


LON-CAPA is content-driven, for example:

  • You put content into your course, the navigation is dynamically updated.
  • You put a problem into a folder,
    • it goes into the grade book,
    • you can set its due date and point value, etc.
  • Discussions are attached to the content and thus in context.
  • Messages are sent in context.

This is what we mean by: the content drives the system. You select the content, the system runs it.

Content Creators

LON-CAPA supports the dissemination and marketing of educational content from various sources. We assume stewardship of the content entrusted to us, and deliver analytics for your content.

Content can be used in just your courses, just your institution, or among all or selected institutions in the network. It’s your stuff, you tell us.


Content is everything. Well, not quite. It also needs to be managed and delivered. Isn’t it frustrating when the cable is just ever so slightly too short?

E-learning, be it fully online or blended, is suffering from the “last mile problem:” lots of people from various backgrounds are producing lots of great content, but the content only becomes useful when it reaches the learner in a coherent and reliable fashion.

LON-CAPA is about providing an end-to-end connection from content creators to learners – and back! See how content is performing, get the analytics you need, get relevant content recommendations, and get the best content for your teaching goals to your learners.

Course Management

Educational content should not live on an island. While independent learners are welcome in our system, our particular focus is weaving granular content into connected and organized learning venues: courses.

LON-CAPA lets educators manage these courses in a diverse set of environments: schools, colleges, and universities; for-credit, open, blended, or massively online.


LON-CAPA supports CAPA, the most flexible, powerful, and expandable system for formative and summative assessment out there. CAPA covers everything from the most simple multiple choice responses to sophisticated symbolic math, and allows all components to be mixed and matched into complex multipart and multiple-response structures. All components of problems can be randomized, so that different students get different versions of the same problem.

CAPA has a superset of most any homework and exam systems’ functionality, and thus content from several other systems has successfully been ported into CAPA.


No single instructor, no single institution, no single school district, and no single textbook publisher will be able to compete in the changing landscape of education. Fortunately, they don’t have to.

With LON-CAPA-NG, we are assembling a diverse group of collaborators and stakeholders to build the next generation of learning content management.