Saturday, 15 December 2012

December 2012 Learning Systems Update

[Have just realised that I didn't publish this when I wrote it - I can only blame the excessively large number of pre-Christmas lunches I indulged in during December].

Welcome to the final Learning Systems Update of 2012.

We’ve just rounded off a very busy and productive year for the learning systems team by releasing a major VLE update.

A major part of the update was moving the system underlying the VLE from Moodle 2.2 to Moodle 2.3 – giving us a lot of new functionality associated with the newer version of Moodle.

We’re also adding in a lot of new local OU features – some of which I’ve been promising for several months. 

There are quite a number of improvements related to quizzes

We’ve added a long awaited feature that sends a reminder email to students who have attempted a summative quiz but haven’t remembered to submit it.

We’ve added a number of new administrative features to the quiz, and we finally get STACK questions as part of the Moodle quiz.  This will dramatically improve our ability to both assess and teach mathematics online.   We’ve already done quite a lot of publicity around this, but if you want to know more or see a demonstration contact me, or Phil Butcher or Tim Hunt.

Our structured content tools get a number of improvements too

We can now produce ePub3 interactive eBooks – so we can better support learners with iPads, we’ve improved our support for videos, and we have also improved our systems so that we can handle very big files more efficiently.

There are also the VLE enhancements that we need to allow users of the soon-to-be released OU Anywhere apps to get their course materials.

As always there are release notes on the Online Services website that will give you chapter and verse on both the new features and existing features in the VLE.

Availability and performance levels for the VLE continue to be good for the both the old and new VLE platforms, and we are seeing approximately 5M transactions each week almost all on the new VLE and something like 40-50,000 unique users visiting us in any 24 hour period.

As we move into the New Year there will some big changes for the learning system team.

We’ll be completing our development work for the March VLE update, and we’ll also be starting to do some of our preliminary testing of Moodle 2.4, in anticipation of moving to that as part of the June update.

In addition, In January I and the learning systems team will be moving from Learning and Teaching Solutions to join the IT Development team.   This will ultimately mean quite a lot of changes to the way we work. 

However, while I hope in the short term the change won’t be apparent to any of our users, it will, in the longer term, enable us to both develop and support our systems even more effectively than we do at the moment.

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