I learned of this new initiative on the Drupal for Libraries list in a post by Ari Davidow.
Using Drupal with the help of a MacArthur grant, author and educator Howard Rheingold has set up:
Social Media Classroom and Collaboratory
Welcome to the Social Media Classroom and Collaboratory. It’s all free, as in both “freedom of speech” and “almost totally free beer.” We invite you to build on what we’ve started to create more free value. The Social Media Classroom (we’ll call it SMC) includes a free and open-source (Drupal-based) web service that provides teachers and learners with an integrated set of social media that each course can use for its own purposes—integrated forum, blog, comment, wiki, chat, social bookmarking, RSS, microblogging, widgets , and video commenting are the first set of tools. The Classroom also includes curricular material: syllabi, lesson plans, resource repositories, screencasts and videos. The Collaboratory (or Colab), is what we call just the web service part of it. Educators are encouraged to use the Colab and SMC materials freely, and we host your Colab communities if you don’t want to install your own. (See this for an explanation of who “we” are).This provides an interesting perspective on the use of open source tools with value-added service provision.
Here is a brief video (also available on the SMC site):