Custom eLearning Solution for a U.S. Educational Institution

  • Single robust solution for online education management
  • Consistent and contemporary user experience
  • Rich tracking and analysis tools
Expertise
Content & Document Management
Business Intelligence
eLearning & Online Training
Verticals
Education

A US-based educational institution hires Iflexion to develop an online educational courses solution for their students.

Calendar
18
Duration
Months
Gears
90
Efforts
Person-months

Context

One of the US-based educational facilities decided to expand their services and offer online educational courses for their students. They had a legacy application developed by programmers of a local university a number of years ago and requested Iflexion, well known for its educartional web application development experience to fix its defects and add some new features.

Having analyzed the existing program with the outdated user interface, poor functionality and inability to support a large number of users, our experts came up with a proposal to replace it with a custom eLearning solution.

Solution

The online solution developed by Iflexion team provides application, course and user management features. It has a built-in News System and Courses Calendar, and a number of modules:

  • Syllabus module for creating and managing the syllabus
  • E-tests module that facilitates real-time online exams
  • Grade Book module with different types of graphic representations and scoring systems for tutors and students

The Online Courses application is used by the teaching staff of the university and offers comprehensive educational materials, a range of online tests, advanced tools to track students’ achievements, a number of communication tools, and other functionality.

System Highlights

  • Presentation Tool allows a tutor/teacher to create HTML-based educational presentations that comprise two kinds of materials: explanations and interactive tests. Presentation materials can include text, images, and sound files. The presentations can be exported either into HTML files viewed offline, or can be deployed to the main suite with online access for students.
  • Communication Tools (Learning Chat Rooms, Message Box) enable users to post and discuss educational questions in a real-time mode. Tutors can send mail, including mass mail to all students at once.
  • Educational Features (Course Modules, Learning Oriented Maps (LOMs), Content Pages) enable tutors to visualize material and make the learning process interesting and easy. They can create and fill in online educational modules with test questions; upload ad hoc educational maps with glossaries, terms and learning questions; and import converted .doc, .pdf and .ppt files.
  • Tracking and Analysis Tools (Grade Tracking System, Course Statistics and Analysis) display all modules, tests, LOMs, and Paper Tests students have taken. They are represented by tables, charts and diagrams. Thus one can see how students’ grades change within a certain time period and identify problems. The tutor can see the status of the assignments (Non-Started, In Progress, Finished, and Non-Scored) and reset scores.
  • eMom Module allows tracking students’ success through an advanced grade tracking and reporting system that alerts tutors about low scores or missed e-tests to draw their attention so that students do not fail the course. It includes a number of surveys that help to establish effective communication with these students, find out what kind of problems they have and adjust their schedule if needed.
  • Auxiliary system tools (File Converter and Log Files) facilitate the use of the system and provide capability to analyze user behavior. Tutors can convert .doc, .pdf and .ppt files into html pages with different types of content (text, images, and terminology), which can be further uploaded to the application, as well as track students’ activities, which are logged to a relevant file. The system also logs tutors’ activities (available for system administrators).

Development Process

The main goal of the project was to develop a powerful custom eLearning solution that would have an attractive interface, advanced functions, and would be easy to use. One of the main requirements was high performance, as it was important for the Customer that the solution supported a large number of users simultaneously.

Also, as a secondary goal, the solution had to provide Application Service Providers possibilities (the application server had to provide online educational courses for any other organization and students). The principal requirements were for the system to have customizable web-design, multiple browsers support (incl. PDA-based), and usability.

The design concepts of the solution were created in cooperation with the Customer’s subject matter experts and Iflexion business analysts.

The solution has scalable JAVA Servlet (Pages) API-based architecture and supports wide range of browsers and operational systems (full set of well-known MAC, Linux, Windows browsers, PDA browsers, with page optimization for mobile resolutions. The application features user-friendly and light-weight web design, custom GUI (colors, fonts, etc.), and multilingual support.

Technologies

The Online Courses is a web-based application supporting different browsers. Its architecture is based on a three-layer framework, which uses customizable JSP Tag Libraries for the presentation layer, Java and Servlet API classes for business logic, file system and MySQL for content and data storage. The implemented framework is already reused in other web-based Java applications, which proves its scalability and lower cost of integration.

Results

The project was completed on time and budget, and we successfully fulfilled all the Customer’s needs. The Customer emphasized that they were happy with the level of service and communication provided by Iflexion considering the difference in time zones. After completing the custom eLearning solution, we have continued our collaboration by implementing new features requested by the Customer. Moreover, Iflexion specialists suggested several ideas to advance the software design and they were highly appreciated by the investors, so a new project was funded. This new successfully developed software facilitated the work of the teaching staff of the university computerizing their classes’ management. 

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