Using Off-Line Solutions for
Online and Blended Learning
Brenda Mallinson
Outline
Context & Environment
The Problem
Possible Solutions
Successes & Challenges
Reflection & Discussion
PHEA ETI
Project Background
Vision to “support interventions in universities to make
increasingly effective use of educati...
7 participating sub-Saharan Africa HEIs
26 sub-projects 11 involving online / blended courses
University of Ibadan
(Nigeri...
Context & Motivation
• The first experience of engaging with online learning for
majority of academics
• Phase B (Implemen...
Capacity Building Programme
Sensitisation
Design & Dev of
Effective Online
Courses
Supporting Course
Dev & Internal
Review...
Environmental Problems Experienced
Course Developers Students
• Unreliable internet access and limited bandwidth
• Unrelia...
VLE/LMS - elements
• Course / module comprises:
– Static resources (materials / resources)
– Dynamic activities (communica...
Possible Solutions
• Offline version of virtual learning environment
– Poodle (MAFLT)
– Stand Alone Moodle (SAM) – USQ; Jo...
Poodle (Portable Moodle)
• A version of Moodle that mounts on portable
drives e.g., USB sticks, memory cards, HDD's, etc.
...
Outcomes
• VLE Skills development at own pace & in own time
• Offline Course development
• Training – academic staff and s...
Reflection
• Who are your
stakeholders?
• What is the potential
impact of online /
blended course provision
for them?
• Ho...
References
• Alexander, S.N. & Dias, G. (2012) Offline-Capable version of the Moodle e-Learning System. Department of
Comp...
Thank You!
Questions?
Brenda Mallinson
brendam@saide.org.za
Slideshare - http://www.slideshare.net/brenda6
This work is li...
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Offline solutions for online learning eLA 2014

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  • The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa is a joint project of seven U.S. based foundations with the primary goal of strengthening the capacity of higher education in Africa. Consortium members: Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation. http://www.foundation-partnership.org/

    The participating HEIs were largely on-campus institutions who were planning to adopt a hybrid approach to using educational technology, by delivering a blend of online and face-to-face components. The majority of planned online courses were to be deployed at an undergraduate level, with the minority planned for the post-graduate level (PHEA, 2009). Mounted over 140 online / blended courses.
  • The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) Educational Technology Initiative (ETI) supported the use of educational technology at seven sub-Saharan African universities over 5 years. This included 11 projects involving mounting of online/blended courses. A feature was that the HEIs identified their projects themselves – with guidance provided by the support team. Mounted over 140 online / blended courses.
  • For many academic staff this was their first experience of online learning. The initiative developed and delivered a series of capacity building workshops to support the participants to in course design and development for blended or online delivery. The effect of the capacity building initiative was measured in the progressive design and development of actual online courses and a quality improvement review.
    Moodle chosen by all 7 HEIs – either migration or new installation.
    Ran ALL the capacity building on-site, f2f, in a lab, but working within a virtual learning environment (Moodle)
    Why? The medium is the message
    All the HEIs were predominately on campus, with only a few having distance programmes in addition to their f2f
    Unreliable internet access - Sometimes facilitated a workshop the whole week without internet - Discovered ‘Poodle’ early on 
    Unreliable power – generators - Implications for Course Delivery? Importance of flexible approach
    What if there is no internet for students? Importance of Intranet - Poodle http://maflt.org/poodle

  • One of the major activities of the initiative was to build academic staff capacity (skills and competencies) to be able to teach effectively using technology. The initiative adopted a longer term perspective to focus on the development of lasting capacity and enabling systems and processes.
    Overall Project over 5 years; 3+ years capacity building
    Note: Continuous Support was CORE to the initiative
    Blue = Saide Support; Brown = Saide Consultants or outside agencies; Green – not organised by Saide;
    Multimedia – Nicholas Kimolo; Online Facilitation Course – CET, UCT; M4TAT – IT4ALL (Toronto, Canada);
  • Despite the recognised potential of Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) to support online and blended learning at African higher education institutions (HEI), many institutions do not realise the full potential of using these tools for a variety of reasons (Ssekakubo et al, 2011). Barriers to effective VLE deployment to support teaching and learning include unreliable Internet access for users and poor VLE user skills. Academic staff and students with limited Internet connectivity (either due to high cost, poor infrastructure, or unreliable connectivity) struggle to access their VLE, and therefore have limited engagement with their course resources and activities housed within the VLE. In addition, the access time period to acquire and master the appropriate user skills is inhibited.
    Poodle http://maflt.org/poodle

  • Moodle modules can be divided in to two broad categories as below.
    1) Static Moodle Resources – Any reading material which require purely viewing at user’s end can be considered as a static Moodle resource. Offline Moodle will make all such pages available offline.
    2) Dynamic Moodle Modules - Dynamic Moodle content include assignment uploads, forums etc. Offline Moodle currently supports the Forum module synchronisation.
    Admin - Offline Log Module
    In a normal Web Application, if the user is Offline, when a request is made to the server, browser will return the error „Unable to establish a connection to the Server„. Even at times when the Internet connection is unavailable Moodle users can continue to work, mainly because such actions that require a connection to the server will be logged by offline log module.
  • Poodle - http://maflt.org/poodle ;
    www.jolongo.org allows users to keep their forums and some resources offline and answer to posts that will be synchronized with the Moodle server
    Flashtrack - http://www.tescfoundation.org/resource_kit/stories/mobile_learning.php
    It is argued that the identified barriers may be alleviated by recent technological developments where offline versions of certain VLEs have been developed. One such software innovation, ‘Poodle’ (portable Moodle) has been developed by MAF Learning Technology and made freely available to the Moodle user community. Poodle runs Moodle courses off a USB flash drive without an Internet connection (Ward and Clark, 2010) and leaves no electronic footprint on the hosting device (MAF-LT 2013). Another offline solution is ‘FlashTrack’ developed by Thomas Edison State College (TESC). The FlashTrack® drive allows students to complete assignments and access course materials while they are offline (TESC 2012). In this paper, these technological initiatives are explored in terms of their functionality and potential for use at African HEIs.
  • Challenges reported with Poodle use included lack of synchronisation (forums) when the user returns online to the live VLE course, an identified additional function for further development. Areas of success mentioned were that it is highly efficient in terms of offline course design and development for academic staff, and effective for Moodle training for staff and students. The offline independent development of Moodle user skills for both staff and students, and the potential for students to access and read course materials offline was also noted.
  • The 3 Project Management Critical Success Factors – Support from top management; User involvement; Clear Requirements;
    Blended model - What are the implications for course delivery?
    Importance of flexible approach - justify use of LMS – more accessible on Intranet
  • Offline solutions for online learning eLA 2014

    1. 1. Using Off-Line Solutions for Online and Blended Learning Brenda Mallinson
    2. 2. Outline Context & Environment The Problem Possible Solutions Successes & Challenges Reflection & Discussion
    3. 3. PHEA ETI Project Background Vision to “support interventions in universities to make increasingly effective use of educational technology to address some of the underlying educational challenges facing the higher educational sector in Africa” Time span: 2009-2013 One of the Specific PHEA ETI objectives: • Build academic capacity in quality online course design and delivery through use of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
    4. 4. 7 participating sub-Saharan Africa HEIs 26 sub-projects 11 involving online / blended courses University of Ibadan (Nigeria) University of Jos (Nigeria) University of Education Winneba (Ghana) Catholic University of Mozambique (Beira) University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) Kenyatta University (Kenya) Makerere University (Uganda)
    5. 5. Context & Motivation • The first experience of engaging with online learning for majority of academics • Phase B (Implementation) planned for: – Initial Sensitisation – Series of Capacity Building Workshops (over 3 years) • Interspersed with – Support for Design & Development of online courses – Quality Improvement Process • Customised for each participating HEI – Environmental Context – Specific Project Purpose
    6. 6. Capacity Building Programme Sensitisation Design & Dev of Effective Online Courses Supporting Course Dev & Internal Reviewing Multimedia Design & Development VLE (Moodle) in Depth Quality Improvement of Online Courses Quality Improvement of Multimedia External Review & Feedback OER Deployment Online Facilitation Moodle Front End Administration External Team Support Internal Team Support Peer Support
    7. 7. Environmental Problems Experienced Course Developers Students • Unreliable internet access and limited bandwidth • Unreliable local power supply • Sustained effort required to become familiar with VLE • Off campus access to internet for: * course development / participation * course resources Leading to: • Interrupted access to own course/s in the VLE • Preferred online course access for development / participation / engagement taking place mostly on campus (generator & intranet) • Incurring costs for off-campus (home / café) access • Limited time to become familiar with VLE & course resources • Further exclusion from the affordances of online T&L
    8. 8. VLE/LMS - elements • Course / module comprises: – Static resources (materials / resources) – Dynamic activities (communication, engagement) • Site & Course Management – Authentication – Calendar – Tracking – Grades – …
    9. 9. Possible Solutions • Offline version of virtual learning environment – Poodle (MAFLT) – Stand Alone Moodle (SAM) – USQ; Jolongo – Offline Moodle – FlashTrack (TESC) • Enabling access to – Full course with learning pathway – Identical structure and functions – Resources & materials • Online or synchronization for: – Uploading assignments – Communications e.g. forums
    10. 10. Poodle (Portable Moodle) • A version of Moodle that mounts on portable drives e.g., USB sticks, memory cards, HDD's, etc. • Offered at no cost by MAF-LT – http://www.maflt.org/products/poodle • Leave no electronic fingerprint when proper shutdown procedures are followed • Installation and setup guide provided • For Moodle v1.9.3 and v2.1
    11. 11. Outcomes • VLE Skills development at own pace & in own time • Offline Course development • Training – academic staff and students • Accessing course and resources • Leaves no ‘foot print’ on host device Successes: (Poodle – offline Moodle) • Provide each lecturer with a flash stick for course development • ICT support needed to upload from lecturer flash stick to server • Provide each student with their courses on a flash stick • Producing multiple copies – time consuming Considerations: • Internet access still needed for communication & interaction • Synchronisation not yet available in Poodle (other initiatives may provide this) Challenges
    12. 12. Reflection • Who are your stakeholders? • What is the potential impact of online / blended course provision for them? • How can you develop or enhance processes at your institution to address the challenges? User Involvement Executive Management Support Clear Statement of Requirements
    13. 13. References • Alexander, S.N. & Dias, G. (2012) Offline-Capable version of the Moodle e-Learning System. Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. Available online at http://www.nitc.lk/old/archive2012/images/pdf/10%20Surangi.pdf • CoICT (2011) ‘Poodle Becomes Panacea To Internet Connection’. Issue 02, eLearning Newsletter, CVL, UDSM • Cole, J. and Foster, H. (2008). 2nd Ed, Using Moodle: Teaching with the Popular Open Source Course Management System. O’Reilly Community Press, CA 95472 • Farley, H., Janke, D., Murphy, A. & Fowler, J. (2012) Using Portable Moodle and eReaders to Enhance Learning at a Distance for Incarcerated Offenders. Available online at goo.gl/BclTv5 • Graf, S. and List, B (2005). An Evaluation of Open Source E-Learning platforms Stressing Adaptation Issues, Proceedings of ICALT 2005. Fifth IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies, 5-8 July 2005, pp. 163 – 165. • Jolongo – offline Moodle client. Available online at http://www.jolongo.net/ • MAF Learning Technologies (2012) Poodle: A Portable Moodle Solution. Available: http://www.maflt.org/products/poodle • Moodle.org (2013) Offline Moodle. Available online at http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Offline_Moodle • Open University UK (2012) Offline Moodle Project Development Centre. Available http://hawk.aos.ecu.edu/mobilemoodle/v0.5/index.html • Sclater, Niall (2008). Enhancing Moodle to meet the needs of 200,000 distance learners. In: Silesian Moodle Moot, 30-31 Oct 2008, Technical University of Ostrava, Celadnzech Republic. • Ssekakubo, G, Suleman, H and Marsden, G. (2011). Issues of Adoption: Have E-Learning Management Systems Fulfilled their Potential in Developing Countries? SAICSIT 2011, October 3–5, 2011, Cape Town, South Africa. • TESC (2012). Thomas Edison State College, About FlashTrack. Available: http://www.tesc.edu/academics/catalog/FlashTrack.cfm • Ward, B and Clark, J (2010). Poodle: Portable Moodle for Offline Delivery of Content. Available: http://www.maflt.org/news/watch-recorded-presentation-about-poodle-maf-lts-solution-using-moodle- courses-without-internet
    14. 14. Thank You! Questions? Brenda Mallinson brendam@saide.org.za Slideshare - http://www.slideshare.net/brenda6 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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