Monday, April 19, 2010

Open Source Tools for e-Learning

Leo Gaggl, from Bright Cooke is upgrading ACS' e-learning system (Leo likes Caffe L'Incontro). ACS already uses Moodle for learning management and Mahara for e-portfolios (leo calls this combination "Mooara"). To this is being added Alfresco content repository and Jasper Business Intelligence package. These are both open source products. Alfresco is intended to allow course content to be managed and shared. Moodle is limited to, for example, having to copy content from one course to another and manually maintain versions. Jasper will also more sophisticated reporting on courses than is possible in Moodle.

Alfresco will provide some of the features of USQ's ICE system, in terms of version control. However, work will be done to allow Alfresco to reformat content. With that done, this could allow, for example, the course content to be maintained outside Moodle, with version for Moodle, eBook (ePub and KIndle)and print formats. As well as being generated in different formats, such as web pages and PDF, different versions could have different content, such as the front-matter for a published book version.

The Jasper report server will be used to create administrative reports and for analysis of courses.

In addition the new version of Moodle will have a theme for use with smart phones.

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Blogger Peter Sefton said...

Sounds interesting Tom, what kinds of format conversions will you support and will they require templates for users?

April 19, 2010 2:09 PM  

Blogger Tom Worthington said...

Blogger Peter Sefton said:

>... what kinds of format conversions will you support

My understanding, which comes from just a brief talk about the new system, is that it will by default support production of PDF.

What I would like is e-book formats. The obvious ones would be the the Moodle book module format, Epub (for Appple iPads amongst other devices) and the Amazon Kindle format.

Obviously templates could be used for standard course layouts, integration of Slidly type slides and the like.

>... will they require templates for users?

No. But authors could benefit from templates and training.

Many people try to simply tip a whole lot of content into tools like Moodle, without arranging it into a logical structure. They then blame Moodle for the resulting mess.

Also I am amazed by how many e-learning designers produce material which does not meet accessibility standards. I sit in meetings of education experts where the text of their presentation on screen is too small to read, the colours impede rather than aid meaning and the multimedia formats fail to play, with no alternative formats provided.

April 20, 2010 2:12 PM  

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