This project is concerned with the analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation of an e-learning management system to provide a user friendly environment for prospective students to acquire knowledge at any educational level and to bridge the gap between teachers and students.
The web has become a public square, a library, a doctor’s office, a shop, a school, a design studio, an office, a cinema, a bank, and so much more. (Berners-Lee, 2018). Trinidad and Tobago’s education system has a real opportunity to move forward in terms of digital infrastructure and digital education as smaller countries have the greatest chance of achieving system wide transformations. E-learning is a fairly new concept for Trinidad and Tobago’s education system and with proper design and implementation using ideas from existing e-learning applications, a world-class digital education programme can be established and executed right here in Trinidad and Tobago.
This interim report charts the progress of my ELearning Management System project. This report provides a critical analysis of the tasks that were undertaken along with supporting evidence of all work done and includes comments on any setbacks that may have delayed progress. It also look at what still needs to be done to complete the project.
PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT OF E LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
The concept of e-learning is defined in many different ways fundamentally because the actors that use it are very diverse, each with its idiosyncrasy and scope of application. From the perspective of its conception and development as a training tool, e-learning systems have a pedagogical and technological duality. Pedagogical in that these systems should not be mere containers of digital information, but should be transmitted according to pedagogically defined models and patterns to face the challenges of these new contexts. Technological in that the entire teaching-learning process is based on software applications, mainly developed in web environments. From the perspective of its use, one could distinguish the vision that its final users have, that regardless of their maturity and training, they will see the e-learning system as a source of services to achieve their educational commitment. The scope of e-learning may be limited by reducing it exclusively to the Internet, as (Rosenberg, 2001) defines it as: “the use of Internet technologies for the delivery of a wide range of solutions that improve knowledge and performance. It is based on three fundamental criteria:
We can do it today.
The e-learning network works, which makes it capable of being instantly updated, stored, retrieved, distributed and allows to share instruction or information.
It is delivered to the end user through the use of computers using standard Internet technology.
It focuses on the broader vision of learning that goes beyond traditional training paradigms. ”
After browsing some e learning platforms and applications on the web, some questions came to mind about the design:
Do the websites have the same engagement from the learners?
Do they offer the same ease of access and learning ability?
After much review, three of these websites, Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/), Moodle (https://moodle.org/) and Memrise (https://www.memrise.com/) had the design attributes and features which I would like to be implemented in my project. According to (Patel, 2019), there are some features of educational websites that play a critical role which I would like to implement based on Khan Academy, Moodle and Memrise:
Online Enrolment– An e learning website must have a sign up or login page for students and teachers.
Reports and Analytics– By analysing data with online reports of the user online behaviour and activities, an assessment can be made to determine if the site is providing the users with the environment and content as desired.
Student Evaluation and Feedback– Use tests and quizzes built into a course for continuous evaluation. According to (Hattie & Timperley, 2007), feedback should provide answers to three questions: “Where am I going? (What are the goals?), How am I going? (What progress is being made toward the goal?), and Where to next? (What activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?)”.
High Quality Content– Limiting the size of modules for courses will ensure more engagement from learners as smaller modules will have a better feel of making progress, ensure hands on learning by incorporating interactions and activities and make the website more engaging by use of images and graphics visuals
Gamification and Triggers– Use gaming mechanics to capture learner interest and increase engagement and retention.
Social Community– Most people spend a great amount of time on social media. Including a discussion forum for all users will enhance their social interactions with each other.
Support to Learners in a timely manner– Details of technical support and email contacts must be included so as to provide support for all users (Wang, 2019).
SUMMARY OF PROGRESS UP TO DATE
For this project, the student is required to submit both a written report and a software artefact. This section looks at the work done to date in the development of these two deliverables.
The supervisor assigned to me for this project is Gani Nashi. We have had numerous discussions via email. Our discussions included the project idea and the requirements for the project. I plan to complete scheduled Skype meetings as well as constant email communication to provide feedback on my progress thus far. Using the feedback provided by the supervisor, my project will have to be thought of from a developers view and not building a website to teach a specific topic. See Appendix 1 for a log of meetings thus far.
Work Done since EPP
I decided to change my project idea from the initial project idea outlined for the project planning module. Even though the idea was changed, there are similar resources and skills required, action plan, risk identification and analysis and legal, social, ethical and professional issues to be considered. The Background research had to be modified to align with my current project idea.
Functional Requirements (Back End Design)
The main actors in the use of the proposed website will be the administrator, teacher and student. In this E-Learning system you will be able to add a student in a class, upload a file, a course, department, subject and video. This project will contain a lot of advanced modules which makes the backend system very powerful. The list of requirements for this project was also influenced by the work done in the background research section above. TABLE 1 below gives a description of the modules proposed for the E-Learning system.
Manage activity logs
Admin can manage the activity logs
Admin can edit/delete the activity logs
Admin can see the list of all activity logs
Teacher can see his activity logs
Tracks all the information and details of classes.
Admin can add new classes
Admin can see the list of classes details
Only admin can edit and update the record of the classes
Admin will be able to delete the records of the classes
Tracks all the information of the teacher. Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD) operations will be developed for teachers. This is a role based module where admin can perform each and every operation on data but the teacher will be able to view only his/her data. Access level restrictions will be implemented for students.
Admin can add new teacher records
Admin can see the list of teacher details
Only admin can edit and update the record of the teacher
Admin will be able to delete the records of the teacher
Administrator to manage Assignments
Admin can manage the assignment
Admin can edit/delete the assignment
Admin can see the list of all assignments
Teacher can see his assignment
Administrator to manage departments
Admin can manage the departments
Admin can edit/delete the departments
Admin can see the list of all departments
Teacher can see his departments
Provides all the functionality related to events and tracks all the information and details of events
Admin can add new events
Admin can see the list of events details
Only admin can edit and update the record of the events
Admin will be able to delete the records of the events
Administrator can add subjects and a teacher can see subjects
Admin can manage the subjects
Admin can edit/delete the subjects
Admin can see the list of all subjects
Tracks all the information and details of the students. Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD) will be developed for operations of the students.
Admin can add new students
Admin can see the list of students details
Only admin can edit and update the records of the students
Admin will be able to delete the records of the students
TABLE 1- PROPOSED MODULES
Based on the modules to be created, TABLE 2 below gives a description of the functional requirements for each user.
Login for Admin
Forgot password for Admin
Edit Profile for Admin
Change password for Admin
Dashboard for Admin User
MANAGE ACTIVITY LOG: Add New Activity log, edit the existing activity log, view details of the activity log and see a listing of all activity logs
MANAGE TEACHER: Add new teacher, edit existing teacher, view details of teacher and see a listing of all teachers
MANAGE CLASS: Add new class, edit existing class, view details of a class and see a listing of all classes
MANAGE ASSIGNMENTS: Add new assignment, edit the existing assignment, view details of the assignments and see a listing of all assignments
MANAGE DEPARTMENTS: Add a new department, edit the existing department, view details of the department and see a listing of all departments
MANAGE EVENT: Add a new event, edit the existing event, view details of events and see a listing of all events
MANAGE FILES: Add new files, edit existing files, view details and a listing of all files
MANAGE STUDENT: Add new student, edit the existing student, view details of the student and see a listing of all students
MANAGE SUBJECT: Add a new subject, edit the existing subject, view details of a subject and see a listing of all subjects.
REPORTS OF THE E-LEARNING MAMAGEMENT SYSTEM: Reports of Activity logs, Teachers, Classes, Assignments, Departments, Events, Files, Students and Subjects.
TEACHER REGISTRATION: Any Teacher can register on the website using the registration module
TEACHER LOGIN: This is the login form from where the Teacher can login into the system
TEACHER ADDS CLASS: This is the Teacher Add Class form
TEACHER ASSIGNMENTS ADD: This is the Teacher assignments add form of the project
TEACHER CLASS: This is the Teacher class in this project
TEACHER EVENT: This is the Teacher Event where a teacher will be able to add an event and see an event report
TEACHER SEND MESSAGE: This is the teacher Send Message form where the teacher will be able to send a message
TEACHER QUIZ SCREEN: This is the teacher quiz screen form where a teacher can add a quiz and see a quiz report
CHANGE PASSWORD: This is the change password module from where a teacher can change his account password.
VIDEO UPLOADING for teachers: Teachers can also upload videos to aid in teaching.
STUDENT REGISTRATION: Any Students can register on the website using the registration module
STUDENT LOGIN: This is the login form from where students can login to the system
STUDENT VIEW ANNOUNCMENT SCREEN: Students can view announcements
STUDENT ASSIGNMENTS REPORT: This is the Student assignments report of the project
STUDENT COMPOSE MESSAGE SCREEN: Student compose message screen
STUDENT EVENT SCREEN: A student will be able to see an event report
STUDENT INBOX SCREEN: A student will be able to see a message
STUDENT QUIZ SCREEN: Student can see the quiz report
CHANGE PASSWORD: A student can change his account password from this module.
TABLE 2-FUNCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF USERS
3.2.2 Non-Functional Requirements (Back end design)
TABLE 3 below gives a description of non-functional requirements proposed for the e learning management system.
The system should be protected in such a manner that one registered user should not be able to access another registered user’s information ensuring privacy of information.
Users of the system should not have direct access to the database to query it nor view data in it. The only access to the database should be via the application interface.
The application should be accessible on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers on any device.
The application should be developed so that one can easily add new products and easily facilitate changes to product information.
The appearance and delivery of the content should be consistent to reduce the learning curve. Layouts, buttons and the positioning of key elements should be consistent in each page.
How difficult it will be to learn and operate the system.
Number of users supported will mainly depend on the server load, server processing capacity and its memory. It should scale maximum number of users.
24 X 7 availability should be there so that student can use it at any time according to his/her convenience.
TABLE 3: NON-FUNCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE SYSTEM
Initial Designs (Back End Design)
The first step in the design process involved identifying use case diagrams for each user. The use cases were completed using the program ARGOUML.
Image 1 below shows the Use case diagram for the Administrator.
Image 2 shows the use case diagram for Teachers
Image 3 shows the use case diagram for Students
Secondly, the entities and the list of data that would need to be stored must be represented. The requirements analysis provided most of the information for this phase in the development process, as functional requirements formed the basis of the data required. The Entity Relationship Model is frequently used for the conceptual design of database application and many database design tools employ its concept. An entity relationship diagram was created based on the functional requirements outlined above. Image 4 and 5 below shows draft ERD’s which needs to be completed to align with the final database design.
Following the completion of the normalization process, a logical model of the database was constructed. This includes each table and attributes as well as integrity constraints (primary and foreign keys). Table 4 in Appendix 2 is the logical scheme for my project thus far.
Wireframes (Front End Design)
Wireframes are low fidelity, greyscale designs that rely on basic shapes to denote element placement. They are used to plan a website’s structure and experiment with ideas before moving on to costlier and time-consuming steps like design and development (Maier, 2018). Free wireframe software (www.lucidchart.com) was used to create a simple wireframe.
Image 6 below shows a wireframe developed thus far for log in and registration pages.
The practical work done on the application to date includes the installation and configuration some development tools. The development software utilised thus far are:
XAMPP- This will be the primary tool for developing MySQL databases, administrating the database and for running the website on a local machine.
Sublime text- Software for writing codes. The programming code is PHP which is the server scripting language for enabling the core functionalities of the website
Netbeans- for version control only. The PHP add on had to be implemented in Netbeans. A folder was created in Netbeans in which updated PHP coding was synced with sublime text.
The database tables were created manually using the information from the design phase of the project. The primary and foreign keys were also created. The tables were populated with data to ensure the datatypes were correct and to ensure all entity integrity and referential integrity rules were enforced. Images 7 and 8 in Appendix 3 shows screen shots of database tables created. The database tables may be changed during the testing phase of development.
Coding for the registration and login pages were also completed. Screen shots of coding completed thus far are included in Appendix 4.
Version Control was implemented using Netbeans and BitBucket. Backups are done at the end of each major change to the application. See Appendix 5 for the Version Control log to date.
On May 25, 2018, the European Union implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) while the UK implemented the Data Protection Act 2018, to ensure “the protection of the natural person with regard to the processing of their personal data” (legislation.gov.uk, 2018). Following this act, steps were taken to ensure compliance in both the design and the implementation of the E Learning Management system. These include persons having access to their data via viewing their profile, having the right to change their data via editing their profile, protecting their data using authorisation scheme via username and passwords as well as encrypting confidential data.
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Any studies involving human participants must seek Ethics Approval from the University’s Ethics Committee. This is required to “safeguards the dignity, rights, privacy and health and safety of participants, researchers and third parties” (Approval, 2019). The procedure requires applicants to submit the completed application form along with supporting appendices to the supervisor who will review this and submit it to the Ethics Committee with Delegated Authority (ECDA). The application may take a minimum of 10 working days, and in some instances, up to 6 weeks, for review and subsequent approval by the Chairman of the ECDA. Given the inherent risk this may pose to this time sensitive project, I have opted to forgo Ethics approval. This means that research will be limited to published secondary sources and all testing and evaluation will be conducted by myself without the need for other human participation. The initial “Ethical Issues” was covered in the EPP.
Work to be done
Review of Project Plan
The project plan serves as a roadmap for this project. Given how time sensitive this project is, it is crucial that one reviews the project plan frequently to ensure that an excellent project is delivered on time. Thus far, the project plan has been very useful in guiding my journey through the project by identifying the tasks that should be focused on each week.
A change in my project idea was made at the beginning of Semester C on May 28th 2019. An extended project plan was completed on January 11th 2019 for the Project Planning Module and changes to the timeline for completing the project had to be made to my original project plan. Having started the CS Project unit, the module guide has provided specific dates for the assignments as well as recommended dates for meetings with the project supervisor. This resulted in the dates for these tasks being updated in the revised project plan. A description of the work done from the beginning of the semester is given below.
Work on the project started on May 28th 2019. I recently completed the PSEP module in Semester B. The PSEP module was very challenging and my initial plan of completing some tasks outlined in the EPP was not realized.
At the beginning of the semester, an “About you (formative assignment)” was uploaded and this is where I indicated my new project idea. My designated supervisor made contact via email and my new project idea was explained in an email reply. It was here that my project supervisor indicated that my project idea was realistic but the idea of creating an ELearning platform for teaching was not suitable as a software developer project. At this point, extensive research was conducted on existing ELearning Management Systems (LMS) to complete a requirement analysis for the project.
Based on research conducted, UML use case diagrams and an Entity Relationship Diagram were completed. This was mentioned in initial designs previously.
The required software for coding, version control and for creating databases were downloaded and configured for my machine.
Wireframes were sketched mostly on paper to determine the best front end design for the system. Existing websites were reviewed for front end design ideas.
Database tables were created based on the functional requirements. I plan to complete testing of the entries during the week of 24th June 2019- 28th June 2019.
Coding and completion of registration and login pages.
The major items outstanding are:
Page Layout to be designed in HTML
CSS to be used in the designing part as well
Overall the project is approximately 25% complete. The project is somewhat behind the schedule at the time of writing this interim report. At this stage, half of the designs must have been completed, but the work was delayed as a result of a late change to my project idea. My intention is to allocate extra time before the end of June to bring the project back on track. I have reviewed the project plan and Gantt chart to align with the new project and a new revised one is in Appendix 6.
The project concludes with the submission of a written report (final report) which describes and reflects the work carried out as part of the project. This report is 8000 words in length and must be submitted as a pdf document by 28th August, 2019. The structure of the report is provided in the assignment briefing sheet with additional details found in the project planning microsite. Thus far, work has commenced on the background research, risks, legal, social, ethical and professional issues as well as some initial work on the design and implementation chapters. Some additional work needs to be done to complete the requirements analysis such as use case and activity diagrams, as well as additional work on the design chapter to include the application of Nielsen’s Heuristics when designing the application as well as the inclusion of an interactive prototype. The implementation, testing and evaluation chapters also need to be completed.
Approval, U. E., 2019. UH Ethics Approval. [Online]Available at: http://www.studynet2.herts.ac.uk/ptl/common/ethics.nsf/Teaching+Documents?Openview&count=9999&restricttocategory=Quick+Guide+to+Ethics+Approval[Accessed 23 June 2019].
Berners-Lee, T., 2018. 30 years on, what’s next #ForTheWeb?. [Online]Available at: https://webfoundation.org/2019/03/web-birthday-30/[Accessed 19 June 2019].
Hattie, J. & Timperley, H., 2007. The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), pp. 81-112.
legislation.gov.uk, 2018. Data Protection Act 2018. [Online]Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/12/section/2/enacted[Accessed 23 June 2019].
Maier, M., 2018. What are Wireframes? 5 Reasons Wireframes are Important. [Online]Available at: https://www.arcintermedia.com/shoptalk/tips/what-are-wireframes-5-reasons-wireframes-are-important/[Accessed 23 June 2019].
Patel, S., 2019. How To Design And Build Successful eLearning Websites: Key Tips And Principles To Follow. [Online]Available at: https://elearningindustry.com/build-successful-elearning-websites-key-tips-principles-follow[Accessed 22 June 2019].
Rosenberg, M. J., 2001. E-Learning: Strategies for Delivering Knowledge in the Digital Age. New York: McGraw Hill.
Wang, S., 2019. 3 Ways To Retain Online Leaners. [Online]Available at: https://elearningindustry.com/retain-online-learners-3-ways[Accessed 22 June 2019].
APPENDIX 1 – MEETING LOGS
June 1st, 2019
Supervisor sends introductory email discussing a bit about himself and the expectations for the project
June 3rd, 2019
Sent introductory email to the supervisor including details about me and the project that I plan to undertake as well as a copy of my EPP.
June 3rd, 2019
Supervisor responds with suggested improvements to my project idea.
APPENDIX 2 – LOGICAL SCHEMA
TABLE 4- LOGICAL SCHEMA
user_id, user_level_id, user_username, user_password, user_name, user_add1, user_add2, user_city, user_state, user_country, user_email, user_mobile, user_gender, user_dob, user_image
student_id, student_course_id, student_rollno, student_name, student_father_name, student_dob, student_mobile, student_photo, student_details, student_username, student_password
*student_id is a foreign key that references user_id in the users table
etype_id, etype_title, etype_description
exam_id, exam_title, exam_etype_id, exam_month_id, exam_description
quiz_id, quiz_class_id, quiz_teacher_id, quiz_title, quiz_description
qq_id, qq_quiz_id, qq_question, qq_option1, qq_option2, qq_option3, qq_option4, qq_correct, qq_description
qr_id, qr_quiz_id, qr_student_id, qr_total_question, qr_answer, qr_date
course_id, course_title, course_total_semester, course_description
APPENDIX 3- DATABASE TABLES
IMAGE 7- FULL LIST OF DATABASE TABLES
IMAGE 8- USER DATABASE TABLE
connection.php (PHP file for connection to database)
APPENDIX 5- Version Control Log
UPDATED PROJECT PLAN AND GNATT CHART