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XEDU an Implementation of an Open Learning Management SystemMAgust F B


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Document on Subject : "XEDU an Implementation of an Open Learning Management SystemMAgust F B"— Transcript:

1 XEDU, an Implementation of an Open Learn
XEDU, an Implementation of an Open Learning Management SystemM.Agustí, F. Buendia, J.V. BenllochE.Bisbal, M.LluesmaDepartamento de Informática de SistemasFacultad de InformáticaUniv. Politécnica de ValenciaUniv. Politécnica de ValenciaSpainSpainmagusti, fbuendia, jbenlloc}@embisas, mlluesma}@ – Learning management systems (LMS) can bedefined as “a suite of services designed to deliver, track,report on and administer learning content, student progressand student interactions". Current LMS are based oncourseware tools which mainly use Internet and the Web aslearning platforms. However, they use proprietary/closedtechnologies and formats such as HTML that are notadequate for developing and managing sophisticatededucational applications. Moreover, they also lack adaptivefeatures in order to allow an individualised learning. Thecurrent work proposes a LMS which is based on standardand open Web technologies such as XML, Java andJavascript. It also includes features to adapt the delivery ofeducational contents depending on specific user profiles. Animplementation called XEDU is being developed which runson Apache Web Server and MySQL database.I. INTRODUCTIONLearning management systems (LMS) can be defined as“a suite of services designed to deliver, track, report on andadminister learning content, student progress and studentinteractions" [1]. The importance of these systems isgrowing as far as terms such as “Internet-basedEducational Systems”, “Educational Service Providers”,“Distance-learning “ or “On-demand Education” arebecoming popular. Information and communicationtechnologies (ICT) such as Internet and the Web providean ideal framework for current LMS. They are mostlybased on courseware tools either commercial or comingfrom university research groups.Some of them use proprietary multimedia authoringtools like Authorware™ or Tooolbook™ that bound thereuse and exchange of educational contents [2]. In othercases they are based on formats such as HTML that seemadequate for presenting and accessing information in aopen environment like the Web but lack a data structuringcapability. Moreover, they also lack adaptive features suchas navigation support or presentation control mechanisms.The current work proposes a LMS which is based onstandard and open Web technologies such as XML, Javaand Javascript. XML (eXtensible Markup Language) [3] isa language which describes a class of objects called XMLdocuments. These documents have been used to representmultiple kinds of information and their application isparticularly important in educational contexts [4]. Animportant issue in this work consists of specifying most ofLMS information items in XML-based notations. There arealso related technologies such as XSL, Xpath or Xpointerthat support the management of XML documents. They areused to process LMS information and to display it indifferent formats and platforms. Technologies as Java andJavascript are also applied to more complex XMLprocessing services and they also improve the portabilityof such LMS. The mai

2 n issues of the proposed LMS are:· Stri
n issues of the proposed LMS are:· Strict detachment between authoring proceduresand material formats, and their delivery. That meansthat the same course material could be exported todifferent "Course Delivery Systems".· Use of open formats to define every kind ofdocument from user input data to student trackingand scheduling information. Therefore, thesedocuments should be able to be processed by meansof external tools.· Adaptation of navigation and presentation issuesaccording to user preferences, learning goals orknowledge levels.· Integration with several communication tools (e-mail, search engines, forum, news).The implementation of these LMS requirements is calledXEDU [5] and it runs on Apache Web Server [6]. Relatedserver technologies such as PHP and Cocoon are alsoinvolved in its development. It is not a "professional" free-error product but it is being applied in a local project [7]and a Socrates European project called Theiere [8] in orderto experiment the use of XML-based notations in learningenvironments.The remainder of the paper is structured as follows.Next section describes some related work about LMS.Third section presents the proposed model of LMS.Implementation details are reported on section 4. Finally,section 5 presents some remarking conclusions.II. RELATED WORKSThere are several proposals of “open and flexible” LMSin the sense they have features such as the use of non-proprietary formats, the distributed access and choice ofthe learning time/place or the personalization of teachingmaterial for individual users. We are particularly interestedinto the organization of the teaching material (not onlycourses) and the facilities to manage it irrespective of thedelivery medium.Commercial products such as TopClass [9], or Learning Space [11] permit the use of open andnon-proprietary formats of the Web like HTML and theyare involved in the introduction of metadata standards [12]Current Learning Space version is AICC compliant [13]and it can interface directly with any course that has beenwritten to AICC standards to provide AICC tracking andmanagement functionality. WebCT provides tools such asIMS Content Migration Utility which allowsadministrators to bring in or export content and assessmentinformation from WebCT courses in IMS [14]ContentPackaging and IMS Question & TestInteroperability format. Authorware 6 includes the SCOMeta-data Editor, which is based on the IEEE LOM [15]IMS Meta-data and ADL SCORM Content-level. However, these proposals mainly aim at using thesemetadata standards as mechanisms to improve theinteroperability with their courseware products and theybound the information to be managed in these openformats. Moreover, most of the commercial proposals relyon HTML links (or sequences of Web pages) to organizethe course material and this hardens the way to managesuch information.Other options have developed more advanced “open”features and not bounded to courseware issues. Forinstance, Microcosm [16] provides a link service toconnect multiple distributed learning applications, orGentle [17] (now ELS) that is

3 based on the Hyperwaveserver which permi
based on the Hyperwaveserver which permits the organization of documents intoclusters and collections, and the management of links asindependent entities. ADL [1] proposes a ShareableContent Object Reference Model (SCORM) which definesa Web-based learning "Content Aggregation Model" and"Run-time Environment" for learning objects. It combineselements of IEEE, AICC and IMS specifications andexpands them to include additional course structurecapabilities. The Open University of the Netherlandsproposes the use of EML [18] (Education ModelingLanguage) to codify units of study (e.g. courses, coursecomponents and study programs) in an integral fashion. Ithas an XML binding and an Edubox-player has been builtthat interprets EML files and creates a concrete learningenvironment. Our work is close to this proposal in thesense that we rely on a XML-based notation to representevery kind of learning information but we intend to copewith a wider range of learning structures [20] rather thanstrict EML "units of study".III. LMS MODELThe XEDU LMS is based on a model whose mainservices are described as follows:Resource AuthoringThis service addresses all the aspects related to theauthoring of educational resources (see Figure 1). Suchresources are defined as every information item that is usedfor education purposes. They are divided in two types:contents and structures. Contents represent the own dataassociated to the educational resources (based onmultimedia formats, meta-data information's or binaryprograms) while structures concern their organization (inform of lists, kind or part taxonomies, or algorithms) [20]It is important to remark that courses are only a type oforganization and they are managed such as any otherstructure.There are several possibilities to represent contents andstructures, for instance using “learning objects” and“packaging structures”[14], “units of study” [18] or“elements” and “templates" [19]. The current LMSfunctionality is independent from the particular resourceimplementations. At this moment, we are using LMMLcontents [21] and own structures [22]. These elements aredeveloped outside the system and the LMS only providesprocedures to make them accessible. Resource Structures Multi- Figure 1.- Resource Authoring services.Resource PublishingThe publishing of educational resources depends on theselected structure (e.g. a course), the system configurationand the user characteristics (see Figure 2). Each structurehas assigned a specific presentation schema and a set ofnavigational tools. These structure schema are tailoredusing a system configuration in which display parametersare set up (e.g. text fonts, screen background or framesassigned to each structure component).The presentation aspects can also be dynamicallyadapted depending on the user preferences, conditions orstatus. The navigational aspects such as the selection oflinks or their direction can be also adapted. Resource & navigation Graphical Figure 2.- Resource Publishing services. User managementIn this section, the services for managing theinformati

4 on about the user are described (see Fig
on about the user are described (see Figure 3This information comes from documents that containpersonal data [23] or the user knowledge about a giventopic. Users can also introduce their preferences. User Figure 3.- User Management services.Course/data administrationThese services are addressed to organize the aspectsaround a course, from the selection of the structures andcontents to be taught to the tracking of the user accesses(see Figure 4). They also involve the enrollment of users ina given course, the checking of prerequisites, its temporalscheduling or the setup of evaluation procedures. Finally,course certifications are produced and analysis of systemand user performance can be made. Course/Data Figure 4.- Course/Data Administration services. XEDUWeb Server(servlet list) XMLResource XEDU tools (DTDs, XSLscripts, PHP scripts) XEDU Web Page(client) Figure 5. - XEDU implementation.IV. LMS IMPLEMENTATIONThe implementation of the previous services isperformed in the context of the XEDU framework [24]XEDU is being developed and its general structure isshown in Figure 5The main system is a Web application that runs on anApache Web Server and it uses a MySQL database. Thisapplication is formed by several Java servlets whichprocess the XEDU information elements and a "Control"applet which calls for them. The "DBResource" servlet isaddressed to manage the information related to educationalinfrastructure and stored in the database either for teachersor students. It is invoked when the required data are in adatabase format and they are converted to a DOM modelwhich is transferred to the calling applet. There is anotherservlet ("XMLResource") that reads the informationcoming from XML documents (e.g. administrativeprocedures) and obtains the equivalent DOM model. TheCocoon servlet [6] is also applied to perform resourcemanagement since it allows the teacher to build its owneducational structure for a given topic. There is available astarting empty XML template and he can introduce, bymeans of XSL scripts, a component hierarchy for this topic(see Figure 6). Such hierarchy is used like the contentrepository and its component can be organized in differentways according to the student requirements. � version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"? Menu.dtd id id title url id=" XML ( id=" XML (PDF) id=" XML ( id=" Figure 6.- Topic structure example. The "ForumTool" servlet deals with the management ofthe different communication forums in which a specificuser is involved. They are implemented as XMLdocuments and their management is similar to the othereducational resources. The "SessionTrace" servlet isaddressed to store the session information that a usertracks. Figure 7 shows an XML document which gathersthe session date, the interval of time and the accesses to theresource items.&#x?000;xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?&#x!DOC;&#xTYPE;&#x log;&#x SYS;&#xTEM ;&#x"000;log.dtd" &#xlog0;&#xsess;&#xion ;Úte;&#x="18;&#x/11/; &#x"000; &#xtime;&#x sta;&#xrt="; :42;&#x:14";&#x end;&#x="9:;B:5;"/0; &#xtrac; st;p=";갭&#x:8"/;

5 &#x/ses;&#xsion; &#xsess;&#xion ;Út
&#x/ses;&#xsion; &#xsess;&#xion ;Úte;&#x="20;&#x/11/; &#x"000; &#xtime;&#x sta;&#xrt="; :56;&#x:14";&#x end;&#x="9:;W:1;"/0; &#xtrac; st;p=";갭&#x:1"/; &#x/ses;&#xsion; &#x/log; Figure 7.- Trace information example.The resource publishing is based on the "Control" appletwhich configures the Web pages accessed by the users.They are divided into several areas or frames as Figure 8shows. There is an upper frame that gathers the title and aset of general options such as Presentation, Classroom,Administration and Communication. The lower framestores utilities such as Search, E-mail or Help. When theuser clicks on a option like Classroom, the left frame isassigned with an index map attached to the materialstructure. The main frame is used to show the contentinformation (e.g. the content of a practice activity aboutXML). Figure 8.- XEDU frame configuration.The introduction of user information can be performedin two ways: batch or interactive. The first option is basedon XML documents that store the user data and areuploaded to the server to be processed. The interactiveoption uses forms which are generated from the XMLtemplate in a dynamic way. Every user has a login and apassword that are checked using a PHPLib function. SSLsecurity services are planned to be included. At themoment, there are three user roles: student, teacher andadministrator. Students have different options such ascurrent course material and assignments, administrativetasks (e.g. course enrollment) or communication tools(forums, e-mail, ...). Teachers are concerned with thematerial insertion ("DBResource" servlet) and the settingof assignments. Administrators control the system runningand they have options such as the configuration ofcommunication tools and the system error management.Whenever a user, like a teacher or a student, accesses tothe system, he is asked for resuming the “last” structureoption he reached in a previous access. This information isstored by means of the "SessionTrace" servlet.Administrator users have special rights that allow them tosupervise the system log. An example of this informationis shown in Figure 9 Figure 9.- System error screen.V. CONCLUSIONSThis paper shows the design and implementation of anOpen and Flexible LMS called XEDU. It takes advantageof standard Web technologies such as XML, Java andJavascript. The first one permits the strict separationbetween resource elaboration and its publishing in differentformats. The use of Java and Javascript programminglanguages improves the XEDU portability. XEDUversions for Windows and Linux environments have beendeveloped. Currently, we are checking its application inseveral computing subjects at the Informatics School(Polytechnic University of Valencia). Teachers who areresponsible for introducing learning material are focusedon its elaboration and they are not concerned about thepresentation details. This feature eases their task. On theother hand, students have the possibility to deliver theirassignments in a format that can be easily processed by theteacher.VI. REFERENCES[1] Ad

6 vanced Distributed Learning http://www.a
vanced Distributed Learning http://www.adlnet.org/ Wiest, S, Zell, A. Improving Web-Based Training Using anXML Content Base, Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 2001, Tampere,Finland, 2001, pp-2045-2050.[3] XML Extensible Markup Language, http://www.w3.org/XML/ Cap, C H. XML goes to School: Markup for Computer AssistedLearning and Teaching. European Journal of Open and DistanceLearning, 2000 (http://www1.nks.no/eurodl/eurodlen/ index.html). Campus Virtual XEDU, http://roger.disca.upv.es/cvv/principal.htm Apache XML Project, http://xml.apache.org/ [7] UPV PID 11006. XML-based development of educationalresources. http://roger.disca.upv.es/IndiceV4/ Principal.html[8] Theiere, (2000) Thematic Harmonisation in Electrical andInformation EngineeRing in Europe EAEEIE (2000). THEIERE:Thematic Harmonisation in Electrical and Information EngineeRingin Europe (EU reference 10063-CP-1-2000-1-PT-ERASMUS-ETNE). Proposal. http://www.eaeeie.org/ theiere/ WBT Systems http://www.wbtsystems.com/[10] WebCT http://www.webct.com/[11] Learning Space http://www.lotus.com/home.nsf/welcome/learnspace Duval, E. Standardized Metadata for Education: a StatusReport, Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 2001, Tampere, Finland, 2001,pp- Aviation Industry CBT (Computer-Based Training) Committee(AICC) http://www.aicc.org/index.html[14] IMS Global Learning Consortium, http://www.imsproject.org/ IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC)http://ltsc.ieee.org/ H. Davis, G. Hutchings, and W. Hall, “Microcosm: AHypermedia Platform for the Delivery of Learning Materials,”http://www.bib.ecs.soton.ac.uk/data/1332/html/html H. Maurer, Th. Dietinger, “How Modern WWW SystemsSupport Teaching and Learning,” Proc of the ICCE 97 (Ed. Z.Halim, T. Ottmann, Z. Razak), Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia,December, 1997, pp 37–51.[18] EML (Educational Modelling Language), http://eml.ou.nl/introduction/ Rodríguez-Artacho, M., Verdejo, M.F., Mayorga, J.I., CaleroM.Y., Using a High-Level Language to Describe and Create Web-Based Learning Scenarios Frontiers In Education Conference FIE'99 IEEE Computer Society San Juan, Puerto Rico, Nov 1999.[20] Buendía, F.; Diaz, P. Benlloch J.V;, A Framework for theInstructional Design of Multi-Structured Educational Applications,ED-MEDIA 2002, World Conference on Educational Multimedia,Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Denver, USA, 2002 (acceptedas full paper)[21] Süß,C., Kammerl, R., Freitag, B.A Teachware ManagementFramework for Multiple Teaching Strategies. In: Proceedings ofED-MEDIA 2000, World Conference on Educational Multimedia,Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Montreal, Quebec, 2000[22] Buendía, F.; Benlloch, J.V; Gil, J.A. and Agustí, M. (2001)XEDU, a XML-based framework for developing didactic resources.. EAEEIE’ 01 Annual Conference on Education in Electrical andInformation Engineering. May. 2001 Nancy.[23] Vcard overview http://www.imc.org/pdi/vcardoverview.html[24] Buendía, F., Diaz, P., Sahuquillo, J., Benlloch, J., Gil, J.A.,Agustí, M. XEDU, a Framework for Developing XML-basedDidactic Resources. Proceedings of EuroMicro'01, Warsaw, Poland, 2001, pp. 427-434