Drupal for Higher Education and Virtual Learning


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A fast presentation from DrupalCamp Timisoara 2010

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Drupal for Higher Education and Virtual Learning

  1. 1. Drupal for Virtual Learning And Higher Education
  2. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 11. http://encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org
  12. 12. http://dho.ie/drapier/ - Drupal and FC
  13. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 18. Fedora Commons has a steap learning curve, just like Drupal Detailed documentation on: http://www.fedora-commons.org
  19. 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. 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. 21. Islandora ● Demo using Islandora VirtualBox appliance ● Download it from: http://islandora.ca ● Local IP: ● OpenSolaris: root/opensolaris ● Islandora: admin/demo
  22. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 27. Delivering training ● BigBlueButton
  28. 28. BigBlueButton ● http://drupal.org/project/bbb ● Content type to hold session/conference schedule ● Implements BBB API: meeting intiation, status, joining, reports
  29. 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