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http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
The Joined up Web - Newcastle
University, a case study
Dr Tony McDonald
Faculty of Medicine Computing Centre (FMCC)
Medical School
University of Newcastle upon Tyne
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
Background
• Networked Learning Environments (NLE)
project (TLTP 3-86)
• Four Consortium partners
Newcastle University Medical Programme
scalability issues led to development of curriculum database
Nottingham University Medical Programme
Durham University Biomedical Sciences
Northumbria University Subjects Allied to Medicine
‘non-funded’ partner - Sheffield University Medical School
• Scalable Systems
- eg no individual web pages written
- extract from Database and output to other formats (HTML, RTF, PDF, XML-RPC, SOAP,
etc)
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
Development
Software/Hardware systems
• Core System - Zope
– Object orientated web delivery system
• Rapid development of systems (Sheffield site created in
< 1 week).
• Excellent database connectivity / very rich permissions
structure. Plug-in ‘products’, separation of code/content
• Extensive use of ‘open-source’ / free software
– Zope, Python, PHP, MySQL, Omnimark
– UNIX servers / Solaris
– Important for moving to other sites
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
Choice of
Content Management System
• Project start - July 1998
• System requirements:
– Low cost, scalable, easy to use
• System chosen - Zope
– Freedom from file ‘tyranny’ (.php3, .pl, .html etc.)
– Excellent permissions system
– Extensive database connectivity
– Novel features - ‘undo’, ‘versions’
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
Integration -
MIS
• Pivotal to a scalable system
– Eg module codes, works for 10, works for 10,000
• Possible users/Simultaneous users distinction
• Data Dumps - preferable to ‘live’ systems
– Data warehousing
– Student & staff info.
• Leads to authentication systems
• DON’T
– Write single pages for a course, derive from
database
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
Integration -
Other ‘MLEs’
• Data dumps from MIS
• Need primary key
– eg Module code, student UCAS number
• Reuse existing management material
– eg module -> exam info, student-> course taken
– Don’t reenter student data
– Don’t reenter module, course data
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
Working with other sites
• Scalability
– Entering data a ‘no-no’
– Data source of staff/student/module information is
essential
– Zope allows editing site wherever a browser is
available
– Data Ownership (hosting our data at Newcastle? - no
chance!)
– Different Data structures not a problem
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
NLE in action
• All sites hosted at Newcastle
– Designed for portability in mind
• Notts bought server to run their NLE
• UNIX backend, MySQL, Zope, Python, PHP3
• Consortium sites have great autonomy
• Can use ZEO to distribute load over other
servers
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
Successes
• Newcastle using NLE technologies
extensively
– MOFS (6200 modules, authenticated editing,
resource upload and PDF output)
• Nottingham purchased server
• Addition of non-funded partner - Sheffield
University
• Generally high regard from staff/students
• Remote Admins taking to Zope quite well
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
Problems
• NIH?
– Not generally a problem
• Data Ownership
– Reluctance to share data, eg staff ‘pet’ projects
– Not always evident who owns the data
• Resistance to change
– Senior mgmt might agree, but at ground zero…
• F2F communication - Invaluable
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
The ‘NLE’ way
• Scalability
• One source of data, ideally one data owner
• Repurpose existing data
• Create conduits (eg editing/uploading
screens), not terminii (eg “I’ll upload that for
you”)
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
Summary
• Obstacles (data ownership, data structures)
can be formidable, but committed people at
the sharp end make a real difference
• Open source systems help greatly
– Easy to move to other sites, open data structures,
lower cost
• Need bottom-up and top-down driving
– Staff/student & Dean/PVC
• Hosting many sites at one location
– No big deal (disk, processor and OS permitting)
http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc
Information Sources
• Zope - Object Orientated Web Delivery Platform
– http://www.zope.org/
• MySQL - Open Source RDBMS
– http://www.mysql.com/
• Python - Scripting Language
– http://www.python.org/
• Omnimark - Text Processing Language
– http://www.omnimark.com
• Roxen - Graphically Rich Web Server
– http://www.roxen.com

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IWMW 2000: Newcastle University Case Study

  • 1. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc The Joined up Web - Newcastle University, a case study Dr Tony McDonald Faculty of Medicine Computing Centre (FMCC) Medical School University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 2. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc Background • Networked Learning Environments (NLE) project (TLTP 3-86) • Four Consortium partners Newcastle University Medical Programme scalability issues led to development of curriculum database Nottingham University Medical Programme Durham University Biomedical Sciences Northumbria University Subjects Allied to Medicine ‘non-funded’ partner - Sheffield University Medical School • Scalable Systems - eg no individual web pages written - extract from Database and output to other formats (HTML, RTF, PDF, XML-RPC, SOAP, etc)
  • 3. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc Development Software/Hardware systems • Core System - Zope – Object orientated web delivery system • Rapid development of systems (Sheffield site created in < 1 week). • Excellent database connectivity / very rich permissions structure. Plug-in ‘products’, separation of code/content • Extensive use of ‘open-source’ / free software – Zope, Python, PHP, MySQL, Omnimark – UNIX servers / Solaris – Important for moving to other sites
  • 4. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc Choice of Content Management System • Project start - July 1998 • System requirements: – Low cost, scalable, easy to use • System chosen - Zope – Freedom from file ‘tyranny’ (.php3, .pl, .html etc.) – Excellent permissions system – Extensive database connectivity – Novel features - ‘undo’, ‘versions’
  • 5. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc Integration - MIS • Pivotal to a scalable system – Eg module codes, works for 10, works for 10,000 • Possible users/Simultaneous users distinction • Data Dumps - preferable to ‘live’ systems – Data warehousing – Student & staff info. • Leads to authentication systems • DON’T – Write single pages for a course, derive from database
  • 6. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc Integration - Other ‘MLEs’ • Data dumps from MIS • Need primary key – eg Module code, student UCAS number • Reuse existing management material – eg module -> exam info, student-> course taken – Don’t reenter student data – Don’t reenter module, course data
  • 7. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc Working with other sites • Scalability – Entering data a ‘no-no’ – Data source of staff/student/module information is essential – Zope allows editing site wherever a browser is available – Data Ownership (hosting our data at Newcastle? - no chance!) – Different Data structures not a problem
  • 8. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc NLE in action • All sites hosted at Newcastle – Designed for portability in mind • Notts bought server to run their NLE • UNIX backend, MySQL, Zope, Python, PHP3 • Consortium sites have great autonomy • Can use ZEO to distribute load over other servers
  • 9. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc Successes • Newcastle using NLE technologies extensively – MOFS (6200 modules, authenticated editing, resource upload and PDF output) • Nottingham purchased server • Addition of non-funded partner - Sheffield University • Generally high regard from staff/students • Remote Admins taking to Zope quite well
  • 10. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc Problems • NIH? – Not generally a problem • Data Ownership – Reluctance to share data, eg staff ‘pet’ projects – Not always evident who owns the data • Resistance to change – Senior mgmt might agree, but at ground zero… • F2F communication - Invaluable
  • 11. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc The ‘NLE’ way • Scalability • One source of data, ideally one data owner • Repurpose existing data • Create conduits (eg editing/uploading screens), not terminii (eg “I’ll upload that for you”)
  • 12. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc Summary • Obstacles (data ownership, data structures) can be formidable, but committed people at the sharp end make a real difference • Open source systems help greatly – Easy to move to other sites, open data structures, lower cost • Need bottom-up and top-down driving – Staff/student & Dean/PVC • Hosting many sites at one location – No big deal (disk, processor and OS permitting)
  • 13. http://nle.ncl.ac.uk/nle/doc Information Sources • Zope - Object Orientated Web Delivery Platform – http://www.zope.org/ • MySQL - Open Source RDBMS – http://www.mysql.com/ • Python - Scripting Language – http://www.python.org/ • Omnimark - Text Processing Language – http://www.omnimark.com • Roxen - Graphically Rich Web Server – http://www.roxen.com

Editor's Notes

  1. The FMCC was set up to provide C&amp;IT support for the Medical Faculty at Newcastle