Uni Open Platform
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Firoz Kaderali
FernUniversität in Hagen
- doc.zip [ .zip - 1,3 MB - 2003.04.01 ]
- Installation manual Uni Open Platform 2.2.0 [ .txt - 13 KB - 2008.02.04 ]
- Installation manual OnlineAssistent based on PostNuke [ .txt - 9 KB - 2008.02.04 ]
An Open Source E-Learning Platform
The academic approach
Uni Open Platform is a flexible Open Source e-learning environment tailored to master the daily tasks in educational institutions. The Uni Open Platform was developed during the project "Virtual University", funded by the state of North-Rhine-Westphalia. Uni Open Platform is a web-based system for the administration of courses, students, and educational staff. It is currently in operation at four educational institutions. Among these institutions is the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hagen, which developed the platform under the name ET-Online.
Uni Open Platform is a practical solution for faculties that wish to participitate in the e-learning community. While
commercial providers for e-learning solutions keep their customers locked in rigid license agreements, Uni Open Platform
gives them total freedom. Furthermore, commercial solutions often lack urgently required features while containing
functionalities that are not always needed. Uni Open Platform provides you with the possibility to adapt the software
to your special needs. Or even better, somebody else with the same needs as you may have already implemented it.
That's Open Source!
Uni Open Platform is part of the CampusSource initiative started by the state of North-Rhine-Westphalia. The goal of this initiative is to promote the development of Open Source software for the academic and educational sector.
Uni Open Platform provides functionalities for the web-based administration of courses and students. All important features relevant to students and faculty staff can be accessed with a standard web browser. Uni Open Platform presumes that learning material is created with standard authoring software. The advantage of this is that the system virtually supports any kind of course material that can be accessed from a web server. Uni Open Platform provides the flexibility that is essential in today's e-learning community which is still lacking commonly accepted standards.
Uni Open Platform can be divided into four distinct modules:
- a view of personal information for students - the Uni Open Platform Assistant,
- an easy-to-use administration frontend for the faculty staff,
- an independent download tool for course contents - the Offline Navigator,
- an extension module for the web server to allow automated periodic release of course material.
Uni Open Platform Assistant
The Uni Open Platform Assistant offers the students a personalised view of relevant information and data. Of course, all student´s private data is encrypted before it is sent through the Internet (SSL encryption). The students have access to the following features:
- Access to personal data:
Here the students can specify private data like address, telephone number, email address, etc. This information is essential for university staff who want to contact a student. The students can also choose if they want to be included in contact and mailing lists for the courses they enrolled for.
- Results from assignments:
The students can check the points they received for their individual assignments.
- Course list:
The students get a personal list of their courses, including information about the tutor and the possibilty to directly go to the homepage of the course.
- Contact list:
The contact list allows students to see if any fellow students live in the same geographic region. This allows the students to build work groups.
- List of tutors and mailing lists:
Here the students get a list of all their tutors and their email addresses, as well as all course specific mailing lists.
- Personal list of appointments:
University staff have the opportunity to enter course-specific dates into the database (e. g. deadlines). The students get a personal list of appointments which are relevant to them.
The Offline Navigator is a tool for the automated download and organisation of course material. After startup and authentication the students get a list of all courses they enrolled for. Each course comprises several components which can be downloaded separately. Typical course components are lecture scripts in HTML and PDF format, assignments and their solutions, exercises, multimedia elements, etc. The students can select the components they wish to obtain from the list and then initiate the download process. The Offline Navigator decompresses the incoming components and stores them on the local hard disk of the student's PC. Furthermore, a table of contents is created that can be used to navigate through the different courses. Since the Offline Navigator is a Java Application (not a Java Applet!) it can run on diverse operating systems.
The administration frontend
The administration frontend is used by faculty staff such as professors, tutors, secretaries, system administrators. It allows to search for and enter student and course data like registration numbers, addresses, email addresses, points for assignments, course modules, etc. The frontend is completely based on HTML which allows the staff to access the database from any web browser.
The automatic release module
It has been found, that it is advantageous to keep all students who are working in the same online course in a mutual study rhythm. Otherwise, a common basis for learning and discussion would eventually start to fade because some students would advance faster in the learning material than their fellow students. Technically, a mutual learning rhythm can be enforced by dividing lectures into components and releasing these components in periodic time intervals. This process can be automated in Uni Open Platform by configuring the automatic release modul.
Due to the internationalization of our platform is no longer not only available in German, but also in English. The preferred language can be easily selected by a user (e.g. student, tutor, admin).
As a result of the integration of the Uni Open Platform with the content management system Postnuke, students are offered a collaborative environment for synchronous as well as asynchronous communication and the possibility to share documents. The main focus of this integration is to enable community building. Postnuke offers various functionalities to accommodate this process.
Uni Open Platform is a two-tier web application consisting of an Apache web server with a PHP extension module and a PostgreSQL relational database. Each of these components is available under Open Source licenses. These technical components are renowned in the IT-world for beeing robust and widely supported.
Uni Open Platform license model
Uni Open Platform is published under the CampusSource-license model which employs the Gnu General Public License (GPL).