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A Successful growth of the E-Learning System at University of Moratuwa

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A Successful growth of the E-Learning System at University of Moratuwa
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   1 A SUCCESSFUL GROWTH OF THE E-LEARNING SYSTEM ATUNIVERSITY OF MORATUAWA K.Sarveswaran 1 , G.I.U.S. Perera 2 and M.S.D. Fernando 3   1, 2, 3 Department of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka BACKGROUND A successful e-Learning system primarily consists of a Learning Management system anda Content Management system. A Learning Management System addresses the useradministration and related managerial requirements. This may include student registrationand management, student enrollment, subject management and offering management.Content Management systems mostly cover the learning content managements. When weconsider the e-Learning concept, all the content provided for learning should be in the softform namely; soft versions of a document, e-book, audio or video file etc. This could be aneasy solution to the perceived lack of updating of content. Despite that the content of somesubject areas do not change regularly, many modern subject contents required to beupdated frequently.In recent years, especially since 2002, many educational institutions focusing on a neweducational phenomenon called blended learning. In traditional educational system,knowledge sharing was done in an instructor-led manner. The blended learning, whichadvanced the virtual class room learning trend, shared the knowledge through confrontingeach other, virtual class rooms and through various social activities like Wiki, Forum,Chat, etc. Many studies have been proven that the blended learning is more effective thantutor-led and virtual class room knowledge sharing methodologies [1].The blended learning approach also acquires the social constructivist learningphenomenon. According to that phenomenon, learners are considered to be activeparticipants seeking meaning and instructors tailor their teaching strategies to studentresponses and encourage students to analyze, interpret, and predict information. Alsoteachers rely heavily on open-ended questions and promote extensive dialogue amongstudents [2]. METHODOLOGY Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lankaventured on a Learning Management System project called LearnOrg in 2002 by group of undergraduate students under the supervision of Prof. Athula Ginige and Mr. ShanthaFernando. Initially it was developed in Active Server Pages. In addition to studentregistrations and management, two subjects were also offered through the LearnOrg toDepartment of Computer Science and Engineering, Department of Electronics andTelecommunications Engineering and Department of Electrical Engineering. Instead of radical overturning of the existing traditional system, the project was developed graduallyby changing the undesirable aspects of the existing system while keeping the good side[3]. These revisions and evolutions were done based on the requirements of UnderGraduate Studies and Academic staffs. 1 K.Sarveswaran, Postgraduate student, Department of Computer Science & Engineering,University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. Tel: +94-714-872350, email :sarves@cse.mrt.ac.lk     2In April 2006, LearnOrg 2.0 was released and since that the University of Moratuwastarted to provide blended learning. The LearnOrg 2.0 was developed using Opencomponents namely PHP, MySQL and it is deployed on a Linux server. Proactive andReactive security measures were also taken while do the development and deployment. Anopen source package called Moodle also integrated as Content Management System withthe LearnOrg. Since that, other departments of Faculty of Engineering started to join themto LearnOrg community.The Moodle (Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Language Environment) satisfies tenheuristics of Jakob Nielsen [4] and it was deployed in more than 23000 sites in 160countries. Moreover it supports for 70 languages and it has a very active and useful userand developer community [5]. Therefore Moodle was selected as the Content ManagementSystem and this has integrated with the LearnOrg with the single sign-on facility. Apartfrom providing learning materials, the Moodle facilitates online quizzes and socialactivities like forum, wiki and chat. It also assists to simulate in-class activities like, groupactivities and assignments. In January 2007, the Faculty of Information Technology also joined with LearnOrg. RESULTS There are lots of successful stories with the LearnOrg. Academic needs for an entireacademic year (2006 / 2007) were catered through the integrated e-Learning system. Alsomany online quizzes for postgraduates and undergraduates were done through the systemsuccessfully and more than 600 students finished their enrolments within 5 minutes twicein the academic year. In addition to that, more than 3000 users are registered within a yearand also nearly 500 courses were offered during this period to internal post graduate andundergraduate students. Figure 1 shows the growth of LearnOrg community. Due to thesesuccesses the LearnOrg-Moodle becomes very popular among students and staffs and userstatistics confirms their active participations.Figure 1. Community growthThere had been many bench tests made on the LearnOrg and most of the results werepositive. Some results hinted that the further improvements are necessary. A ManagementInformation System will also be integrated to LearnOrg in very near future. Futureimprovements and additions definitely will take the e-Learning system of University of Moratuwa into new dimensions.   3   REFERENCES [1]   Josh Bersin, The Blended Learning Book: Best Practices, Proven Methodologies, and LessonsLearned, Pfeiffer, ISBN: 978-0-7879-7296-7.[2]   www.funderstanding.com/constructivism.cfm, (accessed : 26.03.2007)[3]   Fernando M.S.D., e-Learning and University education: A Case study on blended learning, 1 st  international conference of open distance learning, Colombo, 2005.[4]   Jay Melton, The CMS Moodle: A Heuristic Evaluation, Prefectural University of Kumamoto,www.pukumamoto.ac.jp/~jay/pres/ 2004/jaltcall/moodleheuristics.pdf (accessed: 28.03.2007).[5]   www.moodle.org (accessed: 28.03.2007).
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