Introduction to AusEd's Strategic Plan
Discuss about the Learning Management System Feasibility Study.
Technological epochs have moved greater miles to enabling and giving students a 24/7 access to resources and information that is helpful in finding, creating content, curating and connecting with people. This connection allows them to create, conserve and disseminate knowledge accordingly. AusEd Inc., a non-for profit organization that has mandated itself to offering holistic education through online platform has a strategic plan that is anchored on two pillars: increasing income through diversification of income and/or funding sources apart from AusAid and NZAid. Projections indicate that this will be achieved if they extend their education services to areas characterized by poor and unreliable networks and internet connections and through by improving students assessments, and by minimizing expenditure on non-core activities. This pillar calls for AusEd to take part in the design and utilize any available open source software.
A good online program blossoms through purposeful and careful processes of technology selection, design, paradigm shift, policy updates consideration of faculty workload, removal of barriers emanating from the institution and that which harbor interdisciplinary cooperation and synergistic teamwork and relentless commitment to the development of human capital- including teaching and non-teaching staff kill development.
In order to meet its strategic plan’s needs, AusEd plans to implement two technological plans: project off Moodle and project photo exams. The off Moodle project is to be an add-on to Moodle and that which will allow students to maintain local databases on their personal computers of Moodle discussion forums. On the other side of the flip, the photo exam project is aimed at enabling students to complete exams on personal computers and be photographed on regular intervals. These photographs will come with reliable and be secured until transfer to a central location with an internet connection is established.
Getting connected devices in the hands of students and lecturers from the different study groups and sites is important, and all stakeholders must share a common vision so that the development needs of each learner is ultimately met. Solid network infrastructure will act as the foundation for successful education policies implementation. Proper infrastructure, including people, buildings’ capacity, tools, policy and systems will then build ion technology.
AusEd run various offices and study centers in different part of the world. These centers are used to give students a chance to meet face to face with both colleagues, staff and their lecturers, to form study groups, access resources and technology.
Technological Plans for AusEd
Other facilities such as that are offered include; student computers and work stations, support staff to assist students with academic enquiries, photocopying, scanning and printing facilities, multimedia meeting areas with state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities, tutorial meeting rooms available for study groups, wireless networking to enable connection of student devices and laptops to the Internet and AusEd systems, student social areas to engage with other students and staff, and presentation areas available for information sessions and meetings.
In order to meet its strategic needs, the projects are aimed at providing easily customizable environment through which examiners in the institution will create a database of questions. These questions will be distributed over the institution’s network system, and will be used to generate examination papers for both students’ use and examination purposes. Through the same module, lecturers will create a pool of study materials that the students will access from whichever place across the campuses for their study purposes (MOODLE NEWS, 2017). The integration of Moodle into the current system will automate and facilitate efficient and effective interaction of students and respective faculties in respect to studies, examinations, results and assignments among many more services that could be offered by the Moodle system (laptop.org, 2014). The project will also provide robust infrastructure for both online and offline examination and academic analytical activities.
This technical solution will be installed on all learners’ laptops and will allow them to use Moodle courses in places with unsatisfying internet connections and or when they are offline.
- Provide inbuilt mechanism for generating evaluation materials for use by students, supported by features and templates that will lead to a comprehensive database.
- Offer online examination facilities that are critical to judging students.
- Provide a mechanism through which students can access the reading materials whether offline or even in areas with poor internet connections.
- Provide students with a platform through which they can chat with one another- discussion forum and through which they can engage their lecturers as well.
- The system will provide plug-in mechanisms that will support other features such as taking exam photos.
- Published question papers and reports will be stored in form of pdf, docx and other appropriate formats.
The offline-Moodle project is tied around creation of a software that will offer students, staff and lecturers the possibility of accessing their portals and online resources even when they are not online, and with no need of any stable internet connection. The software works as a client-server connection in which a master module installed on the master Moodle server while the client side is a standard version of the software (SWITCH , 2011). The module in the client side part of the system will be enriched with various interfaces to enhance coupling with the server. This part will also be able to retrieve list of available courses and import a copy of the same.
The system will have three actor and will have an interface each, the management, lecturers and the students.
The management will be responsible for publishing papers, managing such templates and will be the overall database/system administration, managing all external features provided by plug-ins, supervise question bank and courses being offered, supervise schedules and running online exams, maintain students’ records, and manage online chat interface by providing feedback to students’ queries.
Facilities and Offices Available for AusEd Students
Lecturers on their side will be responsible for submitting revision questions and course materials for courses assigned to them, administering exams to students, answer instantly to students’ queries scheduling the learning processes of their courses, and mange or track their students’ records.
Through the students’ module, student will be able to access course materials, subject and unit-wise questions from the question bank and solve such either online or offline, access any external tools and plug-ins as embedded in the system by the admin, check their course progress, partake inbound online examinations, view question papers in the question bank in various formats as presented or uploaded by their lecturers, and participate in group discussions and instant feedback to messages from their peers, admin and lecturers through the online chat module.
The Moodle project will require the following hardware resources:
160 MB and above free disk space for storage purposes.
Backups: at least 5 GB memory capacity for regular data backups at a remote location as a way of ensuring system security.
Memory: a minimum of 256 MB, 1 GB and more is highly recommended. With such high memory, the system could support up to 50 concurrent users for every 1 GB of RAM although this is dependent on specific hardware and software installed in the system. Concurrent here means the web server is in a position to process simultaneous processes running in the system’s memory- it can meet needs of several users within a window of a few seconds.
All web servers require a software application to run from and in most cases, Apache is used. This system will be compatible with any web server that support PHP.
Operating system: while such projects could run on many operating systems, the offline-Moodle project will run on Windows and Linux operating systems. Linux operating system will be used because it is a free software- which ha[pens to coincide with the institution’s strategic goal of using and participating in the development of open source and free software applications as much as possible, with the additional advantage of a free Moodle software.
Windows operating system usually comes with the internet information system as a web server and MySQL as its database. This means that after the IIs (the Internet Information Software) is installed, Moodle will then be installed with a lot of ease through the following simple steps.
- Set PHP on the web server.
- Install fast CGI on the server
- Configure PHP script to map the IIS.
- Create a Moodle project in IIS.
- Configure PHP so that it works well with Microsoft SQL server-2005
- Create a Moodle database and a login database.
- Create a PHP configuration. Install Moodle and configure URL extension
On the students’ side, personal computers used will be required to have access to broad band internet connection and a USB webcam. Additionally, they shall be required to have:
Hardware Resources Required for the Moodle Project
A processor with 3.0 GHz and above. Processors such as Pentium IV, their equivalent and dual core processers are recommended.
Operating systems such as Windows XP service pack 3, Windows Vista service pack 2, Windows 7 or any latest operating system whose all necessary updates have been correctly installed and updated.
Ned for speed: as indicated above, all the devices are required to have a fast connection to the internet due to the following reasons:
Inadequate broadband access negatively impacts employee productivity and efficiency.
It disadvantages students in low-internet and poorly connected areas (Office of Educational technology, 2017).
The total value of return on investments of the offline Moodle and the photo-exam projects to deliver the functionalities for which it is designed for, and in consideration to evaluation, procurement and testing costs, system installation and training of the staff and the students on how to interact with the system securely, constitutes cost effectiveness of the project (Bill & Jonathan, 2010).
Apart from costs to be incurred when purchasing several hardware resources, other cost will be incurred in the following undertakings:
License fees- payable yearly or in accordance to software vendor-client’s agreement. But since Moodle is an open source software, there will be no subscription fees needed for this purpose.
Hosting fee- this fee will be paid by AusEd to a third party firm that will be hired to host the institution’s system together with managing the security and backup aspects of the system. In order to minimize these fees, the institution shall buy its own server hardware machines or contract an Internet Service Provider (ISP), or one of their Moodle partners could be selected to do the hosting.
The distinct learning centers and discussion for a shall each host self-host Moodle, but again, in order to minimize these cost, and to make an efficient and open platform for all, one Moodle project will be enough, but shared by all institutions through the cloud.
Additional fees- additional fees will be included with data integration, and migrating from the current system to the new one. Depending on the ISP contracted, this cost will range from $100, 000 to $140 000.
Pre-assumption: it will be assumed that student and lecturers have personal computers, laptops and tablets, and that the non-teaching management staff will continue using the currently installed desktops in the learning centers, further reducing the costs.
Given the specific requirements for an efficient learning environment powers and capabilities provided by the hybrid Moodle project, quality hardware that support fast internet connections, secure, with enough memory capacity to support backup data as well as the learning materials, and the feedback mechanism must be used.
The chosen hardware are cost friendly, user friendly, and offer enhanced issues that are needed for the success of the project as well as sustainable.
Bill, R. & Jonathan, S., 2010. Learning Management System Feasibility Study:Part II of the Open Source Collaborative, Moodle Assessment Report. North Carolina Community College System Office: Learning Technology Systems, August.1(3).
laptop.org, 2014. Customizing Moodle to include efficient Examination Processes. [Online]
Available at: Customizing_Moodle_to_include_efficient_Examination_Processes
[Accessed 19 05 2018].
MOODLE NEWS, 2017. Want to use Moodle for students without internet access? Check out MoodleBox – Moodle on Raspberry Pi #Moodle. [Online]
Available at: https://www.moodlenews.com/2017/want-to-use-moodle-for-students-without-internet-access-check-out-moodlebox-moodle-on-raspberry-pi-moodle/
[Accessed 18 May 2018].
Office of Educational technology, 2017. building Infrastructure for Learning. [Online]
Available at: https://tech.ed.gov
[Accessed 19 may 2018].
SWITCH , 2011. SUPSI.6 Moodle offline. [Online]
Available at: https://projects.switch.ch/aaa/projects/detail/SUPSI.6
[Accessed 20 May 2018].
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