Drupal for Higher Education and Virtual Learning
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Drupal for Higher Education and Virtual Learning

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A fast presentation from DrupalCamp Timisoara 2010

A fast presentation from DrupalCamp Timisoara 2010

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  • 1. Drupal for Virtual Learning And Higher Education
  • 2. Next generation virtual learning Most Virtual Learning solutions include at least the following: - a repository of learning objects: various resources used to build a course or a training - an infrastructure for communication: email, chat, videoconferencing
  • 3. Next generation virtual learning Usually we get fast and scalable solution for these reqs: - from proprietary platforms - $$$$$ - building up our own meshup solutions using open source technologies
  • 4. The challenge ● A typical modern university VLE: ● Must accomodate tens of thousands of users ● Must store hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of objects (not necessarily documents) together with semantic metadata ● Must deliver content over the net – distance learning, online courses ● Must integrate with academic regulations, has special workflows ● Must have excellent community features
  • 5. Drupal ● Drupal is a solution already implemented in many universities ● Stands out as a higly flexible framework ● Is a platform for social web applications ● Semantic web ready
  • 6. Next generation virtual learning Recent solutions: Open Source, well financed, large support communities Some examples: Fedora Commons: http://www.fedora-commons.org/ An application providing the infrastructure to create huge repositories – Cornell University, DuraSpace Foundation BigBlueButton: http://bigbluebutton.org/ A university oriented videoconferencing server based on several open source technologies (Flex, Asterisk, Red5 etc.)
  • 7. Here comes the juice ● Fedora Commons and Drupal ● Islandora: a set of Drupal modules developed at Robertson Library at the University of Prince Edward Island: http://islandora.ca ● Fedora REST Api: a module developed by Don Gourley at Digital Humanities Observatory ● BigBlueButton and Drupal: http://drupal.org/project/bbb - sanduhrs from erdfisch.de. Still in development, but doing the job
  • 8. What can we do with them? Develop a Drupal based virtual leaning application for higher education or corporate training. FEDORA COMMONS: Create huge repositories with thematic and semantically organized collections of resources: - we're talking about millions of objects: documents, images, complex objects (several pdfs + images + xls files + whatever you need to store) - store metadata, develop controlled vocabularies for your collections - index and search with Apache Solr - get objects from the repostory into Drupal and do whatever you want with them
  • 9. What can we do with them? Develop a Drupal based virtual leaning application for higher education or corporate training. BigBlueButton - Get 100 people together and do a videoconference delivering a training with full duplex communication and high quality VOIP - Broadcast whatever course materials you have and share desktops - Have user roles in the events: moderators, participants etc. - in the near future: record conferences
  • 10. ● A platform for creating large archives (repositories) ● We can store, access (with access policies) and manage any kind of resources ● It is extensible, it provides a set of APIs for developing tools, ingesting and retrieving data ● It is open source and has a big and growing community
  • 11. http://encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org
  • 12. http://dho.ie/drapier/ - Drupal and FC
  • 13. Some technical details ● FC is implemented by using Java services (Tomcat) ● Everything is a data object ● Each data object can have datastreams ● A datastream holds digital content or metadata about the data object ● Each data object may implement various relationships to any number of other objects
  • 14. Some technical details ● Each data object is represented by a XML file ● FC manages the XML: stores data about ● How to find components of the object (datastreams) ● The history of object's alterations ● Access and use policies, checksums ● The whole deployment can be restored from a backup of these XML files
  • 15. Digital objects - basic components ● PID: A persistent, unique identifier for the object. ● Object Properties: A set of system-defined descriptive properties that are necessary to manage and track the object in the repository. ● Datastream(s): The element in a Fedora digital object that represents a content item: eg. Dublin Core metadata, high- res image, low-res image etc.
  • 16. FOXML: a simple XML format that directly expresses the Fedora Digital Object Model ● Each data object is represented by a FOXML file ● FOXML files are also used to ingest or export objects ● The schema reflects the basic structure of a digital object
  • 17. <digitalObject PID="uniqueID"> <!-- there are a set of core object properties --> <objectProperties> <property/> <property/> ... </objectProperties> <!-- there can be zero or more datastreams --> <datastream> <datastreamVersion/> <datastreamVersion/> ... </datastream> </digitalObject>
  • 18. Fedora Commons has a steap learning curve, just like Drupal Detailed documentation on: http://www.fedora-commons.org
  • 19. ● FC is a toolkit for building repositories ● Needs some serious development effort to build the data models ● It is easier to work with it by using some of the front-ends ● Islandora: a front end based on Drupal ● Fedora REST Api: an implementation of FC API's allowing for custom development of FC front-ends and data consuming applications based on Drupal
  • 20. Islandora ● Provides a basic front end to FC (there is still a lot of work to be done at FC level to create a new repository) ● Provides authentication and roles based on Drupal user tables ● Allows the creation of views from FC collections (no UI, just XSLT templates) ● Allows the ingestion of new objects into collection ● Integrates Apache SOLR search
  • 21. Islandora ● Demo using Islandora VirtualBox appliance ● Download it from: http://islandora.ca ● Local IP: 192.168.56.101 ● OpenSolaris: root/opensolaris ● Islandora: admin/demo
  • 22. Islandora ● Pros ● Almost out of the box solution ● It is pretty versatile for searching, browsing and ingesting new objects ● It is a very good starting point for developing FC based applications with Drupal ● Cons ● Does not store anything in Drupal tables, it just links to records. ● There is not so much integration with other Drupal modules like CCK, Taxonomy, Views ● Does not fully implement FC APIs, so extenting is an issue
  • 23. Fedora REST API module ● More Drupal like approach contributed a few weeks ago ● Developed by Don Gourley – Digital Humanities Observatory, Ireland ● Still as CVS project application, I hope it will get on: http://drupal.org/node/793616 ● Provides a full implementation of FC APIs, unlike a similar Drupal CVS application: http://drupal.org/node/771670
  • 24. Fedora REST API module ● What it does: ● Provides an interface to access all FC REST methods (more details in a moment) ● Implements a content type “fedora object”for representing a digital object from FC ● Hook implementations for mapping any digital object to Drupal nodes ● Admin interface for mass importing of objects from FC collections ● Basic tools for developing a fully integrated interface to DC: – Workflows – User access – Taxonomies, CCK etc
  • 25. Fedora REST API module ● Two main Fedora Commons APIs ● API-A: Fedora Access – “fulfill a client's request for dissemination” – Methods for repository access, object access (find, get history, get profile), datastream (retrieve actual content or metadata) etc. ● API-M: Fedora Manage – Create, modify, delete objects or components of digital objects – Manage datastreams, relationships and objects ● Fedora REST API exposes a subset of API-A and API-M as a RESTful Web Service
  • 26. Fedora REST API module ● A live implementation: http://dho.ie/drapier/ ● A local demo with FC demo collection – some basic functions ● Check Don's Git workspace: http://github.com/dongourley/fedora_rest
  • 27. Delivering training ● BigBlueButton
  • 28. BigBlueButton ● http://drupal.org/project/bbb ● Content type to hold session/conference schedule ● Implements BBB API: meeting intiation, status, joining, reports
  • 29. Solutions for a large scale app ● Repository: Fedora Commons ● Repository front end: Drupal based front end for Fedora Commons – Islandora/Fedora REST API ● Indexing and search: Apache Solr ● Video conferencing: Big Blue Button ● Virtual Learning Platform: Drupal