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Contrib: OpenSyllabus


Introduction:

OpenSyllabus (shorthand: OSYL) is a Rich Web Editor used to create, read and edit a syllabus (course outline).
Everyone knows that [syllabi|^Sillabi.PNG] are an universal gateway to teaching and learning in universities.
OpenSyllabus is a valuable proposition for the instructors, the students and the community (more details).


News:

Alpha Version Released

The first release of OpenSyllabus (Alpha) is now available. You can download the source code or a preconfigured bundle for testing purposes.
This is a slighlty improved version of what has been presented in July 2008 at the 9th SAKAI Conference in Paris, France.
Multimedia Tour Demo

Project organization:

HEC Montréal, Université de Montréal and Sakai Québec (Québec-Canada) joined their efforts and brought their expertise to the OpenSyllabus project.
The project management is based on Scrum, an iterative method used with agile software development.

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HEC Montréal contact : for global information, you can contact Emmanuel Vigne (emmanuel.vigne@hec.ca ) Project Director or Pascale Blanc (pascale.blanc@hec.ca ) Project Manager. For technical project information, you can contact Rémi Saias, (remi.saias@hec.ca) ScrumMaster

Lead(s):


Sakai Conferences:

  1. Paris - July 2008 - Three presentations were given at the 9th Sakai conference:
    1. Open Syllabus : A Prototype Tool to Create Structured Syllabi in Sakai: Slides  /  Video (RealPlayer)   /  Multimedia Tour Demo
    2. How to Share Electronic Course Syllabi : Open Syllabus, SCORM and IMS-CP: Slides
    3. Sakai & GWT - Toward Improved UX & Easy Web 2.0 Development all in Java: Slides
  2. Newport Sakai Conference - December 2007: OpenSyllabus presentation: [Slides|^OpenSyllabusDec2007.ppt] 


Description:

The OpenSyllabus project seeks to adapt to Sakai an easy to use tool to create and publish model-based syllabi that is currently used at HEC Montréal. OpenSyllabus differs from the actual syllabus tool found in Sakai release 2.4 in three dimensions.

1. For the instructor : contrary to Syllabus which offers no guidance to the instructor, OpenSyllabus is a template that organizes the material and resources usually found in a course outline in predefined sections (introduction, contact information, learning material, assignments, weekly themes or lectures, etc.). Instructors can thus deposit their electronic resources (ppt, pdf, url, etc.) directly to the right syllabus section and qualify their use (reading, exercise. general resource, etc.).
2. For the students: OpenSyllabus offers a unified interface with a standardized vocabulary for easy navigation through the syllabus for all the course material.
3. For the administrative staff and the general public: OpenSyllabus offers a centralized location were all the university syllabi can be found (current and archived ones). OpenSyllabus seamlessly present public or private versions of the syllabi (depending on the viewing rights) and merge information intended for all registered students of a course or for the students attending a specific section. OpenSyllabus shares the openness objectives found in the MIT OpenCourseWare project.

The prototype exploits Google Web Toolkit library (GWT) to provide a quick and friendly user interface.  The structure and the content of the syllabus are described in a structured XML file.  OpenSyllabus/GWT shell can create, display and modify the XML file which is then stored in Sakai.  The XML file also contains the unique URLs to access all the other resources (Power Point, citation, forum, etc.) contained in the syllabus.  The prototype can thus exploit all the resources and features available in Sakai yet can keep the information in a XML format for possible sharing or export.


Documentation:


RoadMap:

This roadmap is a big-picture view of functionalities, ideas and hopes we expect to include in mid and long-term future. It is based on feedback from current OpenSyllabus developers and Sakai community members. The following items are listed in the order of our actual priorities:

  • Course Outline Sharing (CO sharable content)
    Ressources and texts could be shared among different Course Outlines. For instance, different COs can inherit basic content (resources & texts) from a Master CO. Thus, a course delivered by different teachers could share one Master CO. This allows each teacher to build a different CO from the inherited Master CO. Inherited content could not be edited but new content could be easily added.
  • Integration to Academic Information System
  • UX improvement
    • Drag & Drop Mechanism for syllabus structure tree
    • OSYL setting management tool
      It is a friendly tool dedicated to SAKAI administrators for managing OSYL configuration.
      It allows the setting of different configurations according to :
      • university or department standards
      • different course outline structures
      • specific vocabulary and terminology
  • Resources copyright Management
  • Resources tagging attributes : available at library, available at bookstore, etc
  • Course display format :
    • Course Outline Export Format (PDF, XML)
    • Global/Lengthy Course Outline View
  • Integration to other related Sakai Tools :
    Citation Tool, SCORM Player, Forum, Wiki , Exercises, Podcast, new Sakai Portal MyCamTools, etc.
  • Mathematical Equations Enabling
  • Learning Module Encapsulation and Sharing
  • User Feedback Management
  • Offline capabilities (Google Gears ?)

Current and future releases

OpenSyllabus is now at its first Alpha release, published in september 2008.
The next versions will be greatly enriched and some efforts will be made to make it as close as possible to the original concept of syllabus management presently used at HEC Montreal.

This is an overview of different points we will be addressing in order to meet this objective.


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