The Buddy Google gadget is a networking application that enables students to find others with similar academic interests and communicate with them.
The Open Forum search Google gadget gives students the opportunity to find help/information across some public OU resources based on keyword search.
The collaborative tools status Google gadget informs students as to whether there is any unread content within collaborative activities on their course VLE sites.
The Google Collaborative activity is a Moodle 2 module (source code) that enables the sharing of a centrally managed Google document with Moodle course groups. This activity acts in a similar manner to a Moodle wiki – the system creates/controls the document whilst giving the correct level of access to users who can interact with it and add content as they wish. Google documents offer feature-rich collaboration and the activity supports standard documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
The Portfolio activity Moodle 2 module (source code) is a key part of the portfolio toolkit offering at the Open University. The module helps module teams to deliver structured material to a student’s portfolio; files/folders either on their desktop pc or stored in the cloud using Google Docs.
A number of project developments have now cleared testing and have been added to our VLE code-base ready for the next system release (which is the beginning of December).
- Portfolio activity Moodle module
- Google collaborative activity Moodle module
- OpenSocial gadget connector for Moodle
- VLE Study planner gadget
The code source generated from the project now has a place to live:
Some of these developments are up in the github area now – note that documentation is a bit sparse at present.
We will hopefully have some blog posts up in the next few weeks detailing these developments and demonstrating their features.
Some will be demonstrated as part of the JISC Innovating e-Learning pre-conference activity week.
It’s been a long (long) time since the last blog post about the project and there is a list of a whole lot of things that we have been working on to disseminate. So here goes with item number 1 – the study planner gadget.
As mentioned, back in May, in a blog post by our project director Niall Sclater (The Distributed Learning Environment Comes a Step Closer) we have produced a Google (OpenSocial) Gadget that displays a student’s Moodle course website(s) study planner(s). Since this initial version there have been a number of minor updates and improvements and now the gadget is in testing ready for release, the end of, next month. There were some useful lessons learned during the development and I’m going to try and document them in this post, along with an overview of how the gadget works.
The Moodle calendar is used as a personal calendar tool by students and also contains event information from curriculum modules such as assignment and tutorial dates. This data is also exposed via the module websites (Moodle courses). All this calendar information can be downloaded in iCalendar format or as a feed and imported into supporting calendar applications such as Outlook.
One aspect of the DOULS project is to improve the integration between our institutional VLE (Moodle) and Google Apps for education (which is available to all students as part of our email provision). A development task in the project is to update the calendar export process so that students can get the data from the VLE into their Google calendar much more easily.
Once in the Google calendar the events should synchronise with data on the VLE so if any events are changed, for example a tutorial start time, then the Google calendar should reflect this change. There are a number of advantages to using the Google calendar over the Moodle calendar alone as you can then: use the Google calendar gadget to view the information on your homepage (which links in to the other part of the project), get text alerts for upcoming events, sync the calendar with an Android phone. Read more…
The paper-prototype is available to download from the documents page in pdf format.
During December some usability testing was undertaken with end-users, taking them through the paper-prototype. Some of the key points raised were:
- Getting information on events such as assignment deadlines into Google calendar was seen as useful
- There needs to be help and support around using the gadgets
- Alerting users when assignments were due was seen as useful, but there wasn’t necessarily an understanding of the features of the TMA gadget
- It should be made clear what information is being shared with Google when using gadgets.
During November Judith (our DOULS project manager) organised a number of meetings with various stakeholders throughout the university to discuss ideas for VLE gadgets with the intention of producing a candidate list of gadgets ready for research and development. These meetings included staff from a number of areas of the university including IET, student services, communications, LTS, LIO, MCT faculty and KMi SocialLearn.
We now have a initial candidate list of gadgets and our next steps are:
- Investigate feasibility of all options
- Undertake usability testing of some of the concepts
- Liaise with Personalisation strand of the VLE development programme
- Identify any issues and dependencies for the options
- Take list to steering group to approve final choices for development. Read more…