Can Joomla! Help me Save Money on E-learning Projects?
Let's begin by asking ourselves what is the similarity of a web portal which offers online “Media Manager” courses and a virtual campus portal of a university with more than 4,000 professors, and more than 45,000 students enrolled in different courses?
Answer: Independent from the platforms which give support to the educational agendas, they both can be developed using Joomla as a friendly entrance point for the users.
Does this mean that if both projects share the same structure I can perform those which are more modest leaving them prepared so their growth is more agile, economic and easy to approach? Certainly!
There are already extensions available for Joomla which permit us communicate in a basic way with some of the Learning Management Systems (LMS) that are most used in the market and they are even licensed as open source. So we now have an easy way to start working. The synchronization of the users in between both platforms… can be solved with a standard extension from the market!
Moodle, is the LMS that we will find in the majority of the cases, but it will not always be alone as Claroline is another option quite used in the open source projects. So we can find one of these with both or even with these and some other LMS in the same client.
Our stage will be completed with a planning system
Our scenario was completed with a system of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to support the tax and accounting of the project and with some auxiliary procedures such as: those responsible for the issuance of certificates, a virtual store of optional materials which support the courses or merchandising from the campus, etc..
The virtual aspect of the templates
The visual appearance of all applications templates that form the project will be integrated into a single style guide. In this way the user will not notice if you're being treated by the CMS, an LMS or by another system. For the user it would be inside a comfortable and unique environment.
We must also unify the authentication in a way that the user can access the system from the LMS or from Joomla (SSO, Single Sign On). Also the visual aspect of these points of entrance of the whole collective of applications will be identical, in order to increase the sense of unity of the resulting product.
This implies (the next point) the unification of the user profiles. The experience indicates us that the most secure way to guarantee the success of this milestone is to include in the profile of Joomla all of the fields necessary for the correct functionality of the other systems.
Some of these data will be very similar to those of the Joomla, therefore we will not show them in the CSM profile and perhaps we wont be able to show the profiles of the LMS. Linking this option with visualizing the information centralized in the profile of Joomla.
Secure? All this information will be shown in the Joomla profile? Perhaps not. If the ambition of the project permits it we can add some of the managers of social networks or forums which we most like such as the CMS extensions and in this case we might wish that this would be the profile of this extension which we would extend the information unified from the rest of the system.
Reached this moment it seems to get complicated but its not true. We can unify the statistics in a fast way if we had the foresight to work under a single domain from any analytical tool offered by the major search engines and if the client has the need of generating reports inside the same portal we can always exploit the logs crossing the information which the client demands.
The interaction between Joomla and the LMS must permit us show the content without being educative resources properly said will allow the users to access in a centralized way the information most usual, such as, course contents, professor and student information, courses taken, curricular career, etc…
Let's not forget that in this moment the unification of the agendas of the courses in the same extension in which we desire to show the agenda of the acts and events we organize like, Virtual Campus. Thus each student can visualize the activities we believe can result interesting together with those, that belonging to the courses that you are already enrolled in, it is transmitting us that without doubt that the student is interested in these.
Now we have mounted the educational part, the communication with the student and unified various of the points which allows us to guarantee the usability of the project it is the moment that we think in our business (or of our clients), it is time to plan on how to focus the payment of the courses.
We talked awhile ago of the coexistence of mounting a virtual store in which we offer merchandising or helping material that wouldn’t be included in the proper course to the students. That is we have already thought of a payment gateway, in a service connection with the ERP, etc… On this basis we will build connectors to the register services and contracting of our LMS. A small effort with a huge result. We will have unified all of the sales system, charging, etc… of our whole project in one extension.
Thus, modularly and scalability previously provided we can plan any project of assisted learning without the limitations of changes in the LMS platform as our project grows, we can also make independent the hardware in each of the large blocks on which we are working on growing with our hosting provider while we do it in the complexity of our educational platform.
Original Article: https://magazine.joomla.org/es (August 2013)