Large scale open source learning systems : Notes and cryptic thoughts


Large scale open source e-learning systems at the Open University UK Niall Sclater (2008)

Welcome to a mega-university (Daniel, 1996)

Requires exceptionally feature rich, robust and scalable e- learning systems.

Founded in 1069 not 1970(JV)

(Slight slip on the iPad there, but an interesting idea that we might be able to trace the origins of The OU to 1069 rather than 1969, which would place The OU as an older institution of the founding universities of Bologna in that century and the Oxford and Cambridge Colleges of a century later)

‘Creativity is mistakes’

(Greyson Perry 2011. Search this blog for more)

I applaud the mistakes we make typing at a thousand words an hour on a keyboard that’s akin to ice-skating in well-worn calf-skin slippers. This aren’t Freudian slips they’re breaks and laughs in our stream of consciousness; ideas we didn’t know that had formed that break-out.

The OU 2008 to 2011

Was 180,000 OU students in 2008 now it is 210,000.

Was 7,000 associate lecturers now more like 8,000 or is it 10,000?

Online conferencing and e-assessment expertise disparate systems vs consolidation and unity of design LMS to restrict, present and monitor enrolled students.

+ collaborative activities through forums, blog and wikis.

Control as a means to acceptance therefore Open Source rather than commercial software vs fears about systems nor people being ready for it after the failure of UKe university.

Mark Dougiamas and Moodle with the leadership drive and qualities of Linux Tordvalds.

  • Understand the entire application
  • Optimize at every opportunity
  • Spot new requirements

Ensure that they are fulfilled

  1. Functionality
  2. Usability
  3. Documentation
  4. Community
  5. Security
  6. Support
  7. Adoption

Enabling socio-constructivist learning

  • Prisoners and the visually impaired.
  • Enhancement to the calendar system so that students can keep track of their work and tutors can keep track of them.
  • Additions of an eportfolio and audio both now semi-defunct.
  • Issues over deadlines, over responsibility for key functionality, over whether to incorporate blogs or not, the value or otherwise of comments functionality and the delays over seeking consensus.

To Wiki OU or to wiki SP?

NB How to move from a primarily print-based educational paradigm to one that also effectively exploits the dynamic, interactive and communicative aspects of the Internet. p9

Rather like saying that we want to integrate text books that pop-up and exercise books that deliver assessments as a kind of origami; at some stage like a glob of stuff in a lava-lamp the new platform will spawn an entirely distinct way of learning.(JV)

Many in the faculty have been engaged for large parts of their working lives in the development of text for a large part of their working lives and do not have the inclination or skills to think about delivering parts of their courses as podcasts or wikis. p9

NB Enhancing the learning experience for students.

Ensuring central quality control, copyright clearance, branding and good design and high- quality audio recordings often means that faculty and tutors feel they have less autonomy and can be less creative than they wish. p10

Or abandon the institutional LMS for PLSs. p11

Not so much food for thought, than a smorgasbord; not so much an hour and a half to ponder, but the weekend and beyond, including walking the dogs and when asleep.

I dream in page flips on an iPad.

I’ve been engaged in some bizarre dream world in which multiple varieties of fish leap from one pool to another. I presume this is some intellectual dance that is going on and ought to take time out to reflect on this.

I blame it on the level of digital interactivity, not just this QWERTY keyboard typing thing (which I do with my eyes shut as a party piece), but the way I constantly exchange hands when using an iPad, flipping the page from portrait to horizontal, opening the page out or closing it down, wiping the tip of my little finger across the page to flip a page or roll down through content.

I even wonder if six years playing the flute and piano with some seriousness has not made this adaptation all the more easy?

All I need now is a mouth-piece, something like a gum-shield or orthodentic plate so that I am given additional control to select and highlight by moving my tongue.

Never so far fetched as you may imagine.

Now answer the following:

What criteria should we use to assess whether our LMS is meeting our requirements?

Might we be better served by a different (possibly open source product)?

What are the benefits and the challenges of our institution’s engaging with an open source community, given its inevitable compromises and delays?

In what ways are we using our LMS to control the experience of learners, and how are we using it to empower them?

How can we avoid getting tied up in discussions surrounding technologies and keep our focus on finding solutions that enhance the learning experience for our students?

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