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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.

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.

Published in: Education, Technology

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  • 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. Outline • The Open University • Learning & Teaching Online – OU Virtual Learning Environment • OpenLearn – Open Education Resources 2
  • 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
  • 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. 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. OU/LTS image 7
  • 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. 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
  • 11. 11
  • 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
  • 14. 14
  • 15. 15
  • 16. 16
  • 17. 17
  • 18. Moodle 18
  • 19. 19
  • 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. 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. 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. Extending Moodle • Authoring Learning Materials • Collaborative Tools • Online Assessment • Portfolio 23
  • 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
  • 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. 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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. Webservers Database servers File servers Storage Area Network 38
  • 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. 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
  • 42. Google Apps for Education • Being introduced for all students to provide – email – large storage capacity – collaborate document authoring environment 42
  • 43. 43
  • 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. Supporting Users • Critical in deploying e-learning at scale • Learners • Teachers 45
  • 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. 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. Any Questions? Dr Ross Mackenzie r.a.mackenzie@open.ac.uk 48