Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Learning Systems Update - February 2013

Since the last update in December, the Open University Learning Systems team has relocated from the Learning  and Teaching Systems Unit to the IT Department, we've completed the development work for the March VLE update, we've started work on developing the bridge software linking the VLE with the Elluminate replacement and we've seen our busiest ever day on the OU VLE.

First traffic, on Monday 4th Feb – we recorded almost 1.7M transactions from over 67,000 unique users over that 24 hours.  We also took the opportunity to try and make some meaningful estimates about the number of students we see online at the same time.  This peaked, mid-evening, at over 5000 simultaneous users.

The next VLE release is currently in pre-release testing, and the upgrade is expected to happen early on Tuesday 5th March 2013.

In this release we’ll be
•          Moving to Moodle 2.3.3 as underlying platform
•          Introducing a redesigned version of the OU blog, to improve consistency with other collaborative tools within the VLE
•          Making changes to our XML-based Structured Content authoring system – enabling video download in addition to online view, and reducing our support for Microsoft Word as we continue the move from Word to Oxygen as the OU's main XML authoring environment
•          Introducing a Statement of Participation, which will be used for Non-Accrediting Learning
•          Making improvements to wide range of module administrative tools
•          Releasing the first version of the Wolfson Open Science Laboratory platform

As always, there will be a full set of release notes made available, to the OU community, around the time that the update goes live.

We’re also working towards a limited update to the VLE in April to introduce a new bridge to support pilot use of the OU’s replacement for Elluminate.

Towards the end of April there will also be a fairly major update to the OpenLearn platform – within the Moodle part of the platform the biggest changes will be support for badges and also a number of collection management tools.

At the moment the team are mainly working on the developments that are expected to appear in the June VLE update – which will, assuming we don’t uncover any performance issues, be based on Moodle 2.4.

And finally, as regular readers will know, I’ve recently made the decision to hand over the reins of the Learning Systems team, and I’ll be leaving the Open University at the end of March.  I’m expecting the advert for my replacement to appear on the OU jobs website real soon – do get in touch with me if you want to know more.

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