Delivering e-learning at large scale
Dr Ross Mackenzie
The Open University, United Kingdom
International conference on e-l...
Outline
• The Open University
• Learning & Teaching Online
– OU Virtual Learning Environment
• OpenLearn
– Open Education ...
Dr Ross Mackenzie
• Lead the team that develops
and supports systems for
online learning at The Open
University
• Have bee...
4
The Open University
• The OU is the biggest university in the UK with:
– more than 250,000 students
– more than 7,000 tuto...
The Open University
• Distance Learning / Supported Open Learning
• Technology Supported Learning
– Always using new techn...
OU/LTS image
7
Learning and Teaching Solutions
• OU Media and Learning Systems development house
• Produce and deliver all the learning m...
OU VLE
• Based on Moodle
–open source learning management system
• Scale of Activity
– 24 x 7 operation
– More than 1M tra...
10
11
OU OpenLearn
• Freely distributable learning materials
• 800 study units
– Drawn from across OU curriculum
– Study time 3 ...
13
14
15
16
17
Moodle
18
19
Moodle
• Originally launched in 2001
• Recently (this month) updated to version 2.0
• Used by 50,000 organisations in 212 ...
Moodle – Open Source
• Distributed under a GNU General Public License
– source code is always available
• Gives the abilit...
Adopting Moodle for use at OU
• Adopted by the OU in mid-2005
• Didn’t do everything that the OU needed, but were able
to ...
Extending Moodle
• Authoring Learning Materials
• Collaborative Tools
• Online Assessment
• Portfolio
23
Learning Materials
• Authored in XML – using Microsoft Word
– OU custom module allows authors to create learning
materials...
25
Collaborative Tools
• Key to much of the OU learning experience
• Forums
– Allows dialogs between students and learners
• ...
Forum
• Threaded discussion environment
• Groupings can be limited to tutorial groups, whole
course or entire OU community...
28
Blog
• OU enhanced standard moodle blog to allow comments
to be added
• Can be set up within the context of a course or as...
30
Wiki
• Original Moodle wiki had lots of functionality
• OU use indicated that this overhead was distracting
students from ...
32
Online Assessment
• OU has invested heavily in the assessment elements of
Moodle
• Re-engineered Moodle Gradebook
• Have r...
34
Portfolio
• Tools to allow students to
– Store
– Save
– Share documents
• Initial version had too steep a learning curve, ...
36
OU Moodle Architecture
• Three layer architecture – Red Hat-based
• 5 webservers – 4 load-balanced serving users, 1 runnin...
Webservers
Database servers File servers
Storage Area Network 38
OU VLE - More than Moodle
• Real time collaboration via Elluminate (now Blackboard
Collaborate)
• Google Apps for Educatio...
Elluminate/Blackboard Collaborate
• Real time collaborative tools – audio / video / whiteboard
• Tightly integrated with M...
41
Google Apps for Education
• Being introduced for all students to provide
– email
– large storage capacity
– collaborate do...
43
Assignment Handling
• Much of the OU’s continuous assessment is based on
essays – almost all students now submit electroni...
Supporting Users
• Critical in
deploying
e-learning
at scale
• Learners
• Teachers
45
Moving to Moodle 2.0
• Will be moving to Moodle 2.0 over the next 12 months
• Taking the opportunity to re-engineer and im...
More Information
• About The Open University
– http://www.open.ac.uk
• About Moodle
– http://moodle/org
• About OpenLearn
...
Any Questions?
Dr Ross Mackenzie
r.a.mackenzie@open.ac.uk
48
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Delivering e learning at large scale - final

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Keynote presentation at 5th National and 2nd International conference on e-learning and e-teaching (ICELET2010) held on December 1-2, 2010 in Tehran, Iran.

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Delivering e learning at large scale - final

  1. 1. Delivering e-learning at large scale Dr Ross Mackenzie The Open University, United Kingdom International conference on e-learning and e-teaching (ICELET2010) Tehran December 2010 1
  2. 2. Outline • The Open University • Learning & Teaching Online – OU Virtual Learning Environment • OpenLearn – Open Education Resources 2
  3. 3. Dr Ross Mackenzie • Lead the team that develops and supports systems for online learning at The Open University • Have been at The Open University since 1995 • Previously at Oxford University and at Cornell University in New York. 3
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. The Open University • The OU is the biggest university in the UK with: – more than 250,000 students – more than 7,000 tutors – more than 4,500 academic/support/admin staff • Since launch in 1969 more than 2 million people worldwide have studied with the OU • Headquarters in Milton Keynes (80 km north of London) – Regional Offices throughout the UK 5
  6. 6. The Open University • Distance Learning / Supported Open Learning • Technology Supported Learning – Always using new technologies • TV & Radio in the 1970’s • Personal Computers in 1980/1990’s • Online in 2000’s 6
  7. 7. OU/LTS image 7
  8. 8. Learning and Teaching Solutions • OU Media and Learning Systems development house • Produce and deliver all the learning materials used on OU courses • 400 staff – editors / instructional designers / software developers 8
  9. 9. OU VLE • Based on Moodle –open source learning management system • Scale of Activity – 24 x 7 operation – More than 1M transactions/day – More than 50,000 students/day 9
  10. 10. 10
  11. 11. 11
  12. 12. OU OpenLearn • Freely distributable learning materials • 800 study units – Drawn from across OU curriculum – Study time 3 – 30 hours • OpenLearn platform also based on Moodle 12
  13. 13. 13
  14. 14. 14
  15. 15. 15
  16. 16. 16
  17. 17. 17
  18. 18. Moodle 18
  19. 19. 19
  20. 20. Moodle • Originally launched in 2001 • Recently (this month) updated to version 2.0 • Used by 50,000 organisations in 212 countries, and in 82 languages • Estimated 40,000,000 users 20
  21. 21. Moodle – Open Source • Distributed under a GNU General Public License – source code is always available • Gives the ability to any organisation to modify Moodle to meet their own needs, and if they wish to share developments back with the community • Moodle is PHP-based which means it is relatively easy to modify 21
  22. 22. Adopting Moodle for use at OU • Adopted by the OU in mid-2005 • Didn’t do everything that the OU needed, but were able to modify it as needed • Established a development team in Milton Keynes to allow Moodle to be developed for use at the OU – all OU modifications shared back with community 22
  23. 23. Extending Moodle • Authoring Learning Materials • Collaborative Tools • Online Assessment • Portfolio 23
  24. 24. Learning Materials • Authored in XML – using Microsoft Word – OU custom module allows authors to create learning materials with embedded • Images • Videos • Quizzes – Don’t need specialist web authoring skills – Aligned with OU print production processes 24
  25. 25. 25
  26. 26. Collaborative Tools • Key to much of the OU learning experience • Forums – Allows dialogs between students and learners • Blogs – Personal web log – can be limited to OU community or made open to the outside world • Wikis – Collaborative working environment 26
  27. 27. Forum • Threaded discussion environment • Groupings can be limited to tutorial groups, whole course or entire OU community • OU rewrote forum to ensure that it would be able to handle very high traffic levels 27
  28. 28. 28
  29. 29. Blog • OU enhanced standard moodle blog to allow comments to be added • Can be set up within the context of a course or as a personal tools for students to use 29
  30. 30. 30
  31. 31. Wiki • Original Moodle wiki had lots of functionality • OU use indicated that this overhead was distracting students from their learning activity • OU Wiki is a ‘minimalist’ tool tuned to the needs of the learner 31
  32. 32. 32
  33. 33. Online Assessment • OU has invested heavily in the assessment elements of Moodle • Re-engineered Moodle Gradebook • Have redeveloped Moodle quiz engine (for Moodle 2.1) • Developed an extension to the quiz to allow richer question types (OpenMark) 33
  34. 34. 34
  35. 35. Portfolio • Tools to allow students to – Store – Save – Share documents • Initial version had too steep a learning curve, later simpler version had better adoption 35
  36. 36. 36
  37. 37. OU Moodle Architecture • Three layer architecture – Red Hat-based • 5 webservers – 4 load-balanced serving users, 1 running cron • Database cluster – postgreSQL 8.3 • NFS cluster • Storage Area Network 37
  38. 38. Webservers Database servers File servers Storage Area Network 38
  39. 39. OU VLE - More than Moodle • Real time collaboration via Elluminate (now Blackboard Collaborate) • Google Apps for Education – providing email and other collaborative and storage facilities • Assignment Handling – document tracking and handling movement of assignment between students and tutors. 39
  40. 40. Elluminate/Blackboard Collaborate • Real time collaborative tools – audio / video / whiteboard • Tightly integrated with Moodle • Used with c. 12000 modern language students • Trial use in most areas of the University 40
  41. 41. 41
  42. 42. Google Apps for Education • Being introduced for all students to provide – email – large storage capacity – collaborate document authoring environment 42
  43. 43. 43
  44. 44. Assignment Handling • Much of the OU’s continuous assessment is based on essays – almost all students now submit electronically • Handling system relays essays to correct tutor • Returns to student after marking • System handles over 1 M assignments / year 44
  45. 45. Supporting Users • Critical in deploying e-learning at scale • Learners • Teachers 45
  46. 46. Moving to Moodle 2.0 • Will be moving to Moodle 2.0 over the next 12 months • Taking the opportunity to re-engineer and improve a significant number of elements of the OU VLE • Adding new functionality to improve personalisation, support for user generated content, mobile devices 46
  47. 47. More Information • About The Open University – http://www.open.ac.uk • About Moodle – http://moodle/org • About OpenLearn – http://www.open.ac.uk/openlearn/ • My Work blog – http://bit.ly/rossmac 47
  48. 48. Any Questions? Dr Ross Mackenzie r.a.mackenzie@open.ac.uk 48
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