Less than a decade ago, you went to a bricks-and-mortar music store to buy a CD of your favorite artist. The CD had some tracks you liked, and almost certainly some tracks that you didn’t. In any case, you had to buy the whole CD, which had all tracks, in the order set by the publisher.
Today, most music is sold through a single music store, namely iTunes®, that sells music by most artists from all major publishers; you buy the individual songs that you like, and put together your own playlists in the order that you want. Those playlists work on your computer, your music player, in your car – everything syncs up seamlessly and reliably. Most bricks-and-mortar music stores are closed, and almost all proprietary publisher-specific online music stores are on their way out. The word for this kind of change is “disruptive.”
Now, think about the textbook sector: books and ebooks are CDs; chapters, pages, homework problems are songs. Imagine going beyond proprietary publisher storefronts that let you combine chapters from only their books. Even go beyond just publisher content, and imagine a place where you can sequence granular educational content from a wide variety of sources into playlists for your learners, into customized online coursepacks that reflect your values. Imagine getting recommendations and sharing playlists with your colleagues who teach the same subject. Imagine these playlists working seamlessly and reliably in your course management environment, combined with online assessment, discussions, and social networking.
There you have it: LON-CAPA.
Fine granular modular content (pages, images, homework problems) gets seamlessly woven into lower granularity content (modules, chapters, lessons), and eventually into your courses: reusable and exchangeable at every step. In the end, the course management system is merely the player device for your content, its iPod®.