Exam View Presentation: JISC Sharing Stories September 2012
Exam View Alex WalkerWeb Developer (Learning Technologies) City of Glasgow College
About the CollegeGlasgow Metropolitan Central College Glasgow College of College of Commerce Nautical Studies • Formed in 2011 when three colleges merged. • One of Scotland’s biggest colleges.
About the College Bb 8.0 m 1.9.8 m 1.9.8469 Courses 672 Courses 609 Courses628 Sta! Accounts 363 Sta! Accounts 157 Sta! Accounts
Aims of the Project• Extending the functionality and "exibility of the VLE by letting students see their own results.• Creating a ‘single point of access’ for students to access their information.
Bene#ts of the Project• Extending the functionality and "exibility of the VLE.• Creating a ‘single point of access’ for students to access their information.• Having live access to data lets students take quick, remedial action.
Bene#ts of the Project• Encourages sta! to input results into Student Records system promptly.• Adds value to the VLE, keeps users coming back.
What We Had Before• Students could contact their lecturer to #nd out their results - lots of admin time for lecturers.• Printed copies posted to students. Uses lots of paper, takes time to arrive.
The Challenges• As a funded project, other institutions must be able to use it.• Di!erent institutions use di!erent student record systems and VLEs.
The Solution• Build Exam View in a layers.• Front-ends for various VLEs.• Back-ends for various student record systems.• Common ‘language’ so di!erent layers can communicate.
The SolutionMoodle Plain HTML Blackboard Block Page Front-End UNITe MySQL Web(Oracle) Database Service
‘Front End’ Responsibilities• Integrating into a main system (Moodle, Blackboard etc)• Knowing which user to request exam results for.• Displaying exam results to the user.
‘Back End’ Responsibilities• ‘Speaking to’ the student record system.• Requesting exam results for a given user.• Translating exam results into a format the front-end can understand.
The Solution PresentationStudent Model Layer Data Layer Layer Request for Exam View page get_student_id get_student_results(student_id) Call to database or data API Unformatted data layer return process_records results (resultRecord[ ]) Page displayed to user
Challenges• Exam View does require technical skills and liaising with sta! in your institution.• Many institutions guard their student record system, and rightly so.
Challenges• Jumping through hoops was required to get access to our student record system.• An independent UNITe consultant gave us the (big) query to pull data from our UNITe installation.
Challenges• How powerful is your Student Record system?• What happens when 5,000 students try to get their exam results at once?
Challenges• Sta! and students log in to MyCity using their Novell accounts (LDAP).• User accounts were set to expire the day after a student’s course #nished.• Students couldn’t log in to get results after their course #nished.• Communication is key.
Challenges• Initial plan was to show results in a block in Moodle’s sidebar.• This space was far too small.• Created a block that links to a separate results page.
Launching Exam View• Initially piloted at Glasgow Metropolitan College.• College used Blackboard as a VLE, but was piloting Moodle with #ve second-year HND courses.• Installed on the pilot Moodle.
Launching College-Wide• In 2011, we launched a new VLE built on Moodle 2, called MyCity.• Migrated existing materials across and switched o! old VLEs.• Exam View launched college-wide in early 2012.
How Exam View Evolved• Our college developed a front-end for UNITe, called Enquirer.• After the merger, we decided to go through Enquirer rather than through UNITe’s Oracle database.• We just wrote a new back-end to look at Enquirer. Nothing else changed.
Publicising Exam View• There’s nothing magical about the link in ExamView’s block.• The results page looks at the logged in user, then displays the results.• You can create a link to /blocks/ examview/index.php from anywhere.
Publicising Exam View• No sta! development required.• Sta! workfold hadn’t changed: still entering results into the student record system in the same way.• Sta! aware of Exam View feature through MyCity news posts and all-sta! emails.
Analytics• Analytics installed on every page of MyCity.• We monitored the use of Exam View over summer 2012.
Use of ExamView• A few institutions have launched, or are launching ExamView.• We’ve been contacted by people in Scotland, England and Algeria.
What’s in the Box?• A ‘moodle block’ folder, ready to add your chosen back-end to.• Several sample back-ends that read UNITe’s database, a MySQL database, or a simple PHP array.• Loads of documentation.
Before Using ExamView• This isn’t a simple “drag and drop to install” block.• It requires technical knowledge to connect ExamView to your exam results database.• Lots of documentation, but moderate development skills are assumed.
Before Using ExamView• You’ll need to explain the situation to your MIS people. Get them on board early.• Make sure your student accounts don’t expire the day their course #nishes.
Installing Exam View• Exam View is available from our development blog. newsletters.cityofglasgowcollege.ac.uk/examview• Version 0.91 for Moodle 1.9• Version 1.01 for Moodle 2.0 - 2.2
Documentation ! Exam View System Architecture! Page 1 Using Exam View with Moodle and UNITe In addition to the Getting Started guide, this is a fast-track guide for getting Exam View working with UNITe and Moodle. Exam View Install the Moodle Block Rename the ‘moodle_block’ folder to ‘examview’ and copy it to the Block folder of your Moodle installation. To install it, log in to Moodle and go to Administration Notiﬁcations. This will get Moodle to recognise the Exam Architecture View block. Creating a Database User for Oracle UNITe uses an Oracle database, so we’ll be using that to get our data. First, you Diagrams need to set up a user account that Exam View will use to connect to the database. You should do this using SQL Plus. Documentation is available here. You may need to consult your college’s UNITe administrator to get this done. You should give your new user account read-only access to the database. Making Exam View Read from Oracle In Exam View’s block folder, open frontend-moodle.php. At the top there are Alex Walker two include() lines. Make sure the back-end one reads backend-oracle.php. Version 1.1.0 Now, open backend-oracle.php. Near the top of the ﬁle, you’ll ﬁnd three 24th November 2010 variables. • $oracle_server should contain the address and instance of Oracle you 1.0 Initial Version 1.0.1 Added optional ‘feedback’ element to Exam Results array in network communication diagram. want to connect to you. For example, 10.0.0.7/ULIVE. 1.1.0 Updates to Exam View data structure. Applies to software version 0.9.1 and later. • $oracle_username is the username you set up in Oracle for Exam View. • $oracle_password is the password you set up in Oracle for Exam View. There is another variable called $oracle_query. The supplied query should work with any UNITe installation, provided you have set up the username, password and permissions correctly. You can, of course, change the SQL as necessary.
What’s Next for Exam View• Refactor code to make it properly object oriented, using an Interface for front-end and back-end.• Rewrite Moodle block to better use Moodle 2’s theme framework.• Use a view for UNITe’s Oracle database, rather than the big query.