MINISTRY OF

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					                    E-Learning Platform Evaluation
                REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATION: CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

          Ministry of Education and the Distributed Electronic Learning Consortium

                                      Issue date: Friday, January 10, 2003

Ministry Contact Person                                   Closing time and location
For ease and equity of response, all enquiries            Submissions must not be sent by facsimile or e-mail.
related to this Request for Submissions are to be         Submissions and their envelopes should be clearly marked with
directed (before Friday, January 17th, 2003) in           the name and address of the Vendor and the title. Do not
writing, via e-mail to:                                   submit software at this time.

Mark Hawkes                                               Five (5) complete copies of each submission must be received
Project Coordinator                                       no later than 2:00 PM Pacific Time on: (Friday, January 31,
Mark.Hawkes@gems8.gov.bc.ca                               2003), at the following location:

Responses to Vendor enquiries received during             MAIL ONLY:                             COURIER/BY HAND:
the first week of this Call will be broadcast e-
mailed to Vendors who submit an e-mail                    Ministry of Education                  Ministry of Education
confirmation of interest by Friday, January 17,           Resource Standards Branch              Resource Standards Branch
2003. Responses will be limited to information            PO Box 9186 Stn Prov Govt              5th Floor, 620 Superior Street
not already included in the Call For Submissions                                                 Victoria, B.C. V8W 9H9
document.                                                 Attention: Mark Hawkes                 Attention: Mark Hawkes



Table of Contents


                     SECTION A:         REQUIREMENTS AND RESPONSE...............................2

                     1.    PURPOSE OF CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS......................................2

                     2.    OVERVIEW...............................................................................2

                     3.    BACKGROUND .........................................................................2

                     4.    SUBMISSION FORMAT ..............................................................3

                     5.    MANDATORY CRITERIA ...........................................................4

                     6.    REQUIREMENTS AND FEATURES ..............................................4

                     7.    VENDOR RESPONSE .................................................................4

                     8.    EVALUATION PROCESS ............................................................8

                     APPENDIX A:           CRITICAL REQUIREMENTS .....................................12

                     APPENDIX B:          DESIRABLE FEATURES ...........................................14

                     APPENDIX C: GLOSSARY OF TERMS ............................................16

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Section A:      Requirements and Response

     Purpose of Call For Submissions
        The purpose of this Call for Submissions is to identify one or more suitable e-Learning platforms for
        the development, management, and delivery of online courses and content. Members of the DEL
        Consortium, all the school districts in the Province, and possibly other jurisdictions, will be invited
        to make purchase commitments to one or more of the identified platforms, as they see fit, in order to
        aggregate provincial demand for the product(s). The Ministry will then negotiate appropriate
        licenses with the vendor(s). A contracted third party, such as the Open Learning Agency, on behalf
        of the Ministry, the Consortium, and the other participants, will centrally host selected platforms.

        Platform solutions may include third party “modules” that supplement the features of the core
        program.

        The Ministry and the DEL Consortium are NOT interested in funding the custom-development of a
        solution.

     Overview
        The Resource Standards Branch is one of several branches in the Standards Department of the BC
        Ministry of Education. One of its goals is to maximize cost-savings for the BC education system by
        working with school districts to expand software and video licensing and brokering programs.

        Responsibilities:
         Sets standards for Ministry of Education Recommended learning resources;
         Manages the distribution of curriculum content, documents and resources and technological
           infrastructure;
         Responsible for brokering and licensing of software and video programs on behalf of BC’s
           schools and school districts.


        The BC Distributed Electronic Learning Consortium (DEL Consortium) is an alliance of e-
        learning platform users, including school districts and K-12 distance education organizations, such
        as Distance Education Schools’ Connect Program, the Consortium of Online Learning (COOL), and
        the Open School division of the Open Learning Agency.

        Responsibilities:
         Encourages dialogue about online learning amongst British Columbia School Districts, Open
           Learning Agency and The Ministry of Education;
         Encourages collaborative efforts in online course development;
         Provides advice and direction for online learning in British Columbia;
         Develops networks with other provinces;
         Identifies and develops a means to share best practices in online learning.

     Background
        Approximately 30 of BC’s 60 school districts offer online and distance-based learning opportunities
        to about 10,000 students, with a mix of single courses and full programs. The students served are

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   mainly in grades 8-12, with the majority of those being in the upper three grades. Some districts
   have been authorized by the Ministry to offer courses outside of the province.

   There are nine regional distance education schools in the province of British Columbia. The mandate
   of the distance education schools is to deliver approved curriculum via Ministry of Education (Open
   School) developed curriculum resource materials designed specifically for independent distance
   learners. These curriculum materials are constantly reviewed and revised as necessary to meet the
   Ministry’s Instructional Resource Packages (IRP’s) that contain the most current provincially
   mandated curriculum outcomes and assessment/evaluation strategies.

   Distance Education programs and resources are offered by the following organizations:

   CoNNect is an enhanced distance education program for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
   The nine distance education schools have worked together very closely to develop a province-wide
   model of delivering an electronically enhanced program to its students through their network.

   The Cool School Consortium involves 29 school districts and private schools that develop courses
   and deliver programs, including online courses in regular school settings, alternative school settings
   and in distance education programs. COOL School has developed 40 courses from Grade 8 to 12.

   The Open School, a division of the Open Learning Agency, develops both print and online courses
   for distance delivery, and currently has 19 online courses available for the K-12 system.

   The OLA also operates an Online Consortium Hosting Service that involves 28 school districts in a
   shared licensing and centrally hosted model.

   Both the traditional distance education environment (individuals or small groups at a distance from
   the instructor) and the self-paced, “alternate school” model (a facility with teachers onsite) exist in
   the province.

   Changes to the government’s distance education policy in the spring of 2002 have resulted in close
   to a 100% increase in the number of students participating in distance education programs in the
   province. Growth is expected to continue in 2003 and beyond. Increasingly, districts are sharing
   developed content with each other and across platforms.

Submission Format
   The following format, sequence, and instructions should be followed in order to provide consistency
   in Vendor response and ensure each submission receives full consideration. All pages should be
   consecutively numbered.

   Each submission should include:

   a. A Table of Contents, including page numbers.
   b. A short (one or two page) summary of the key features of the submission.
   c. The body of the submission, including the Critical Requirements checklist and descriptions, the
      Desirable Features checklist and descriptions, and the Vendor Response.

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Mandatory Criteria
  Submissions must meet the following mandatory criteria in order to be accepted for the evaluation
  process:

       a. The submission must be received at the closing location by the specified closing
          date and time.
      b. The submission must be in English and must not be sent by facsimile or e-mail.
       c. 5 copies of the submission must be submitted.
       d. The submission must contain completed Appendix A and B Critical
          Requirements and Desirable Features checklists, with accompanying written
          descriptions of how these requirements and features are met by the Vendor’s
          software.
       e. The submission must include written responses to the questions and
          requirements in the Vendor Response section.


Requirements and Features

6.1     CRITICAL REQUIREMENTS AND DESIRABLE FEATURES
      Please complete the checklists in Appendices A and B and provide a written description of how your
      solution meets each of the requirements and features listed therein. Third party software “modules”
      may be included with any basic e-learning platform solution in order to satisfy particular critical
      requirements or features.

Vendor Response
   In order to receive full consideration during evaluation, submissions should include a detailed
   response to the following questions and requirements:


7.1    DESIGN
       7.1.1 Ideas and approaches
             a. What ideas and approaches distinguish your product from others in the marketplace?

       7.1.2 Instructional Design
             a. Describe how your product supports a variety of instructional delivery models. (e.g.
                constructivist pedagogy, individual self-paced, small group, a virtual class involving a
                group of students and an instructor at a distance)

               b. Describe how your product supports a range of learning pathways determined by
                  instructor, student, or based on students’ collective or individual performance.

               c. Describe how your product supports a variety of learners.

               d. How can your product be adapted to support different age groups?

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      7.1.3 Future Development Directions
            a. In general terms, what future changes and enhancements do you envision for your
               product?

             b. How does your development approach distinguish your product from others in the
                marketplace?

             c. What degree of client input to future product development and customisation do you
                offer?

7.2   ADMINISTRATION
      7.2.1 Content
            a. How does your system support re-use of common content, yet allow instructors to
               supplement their course with new/custom content?

      7.2.2 Course Management
            a. How does your product facilitate grouping users and courses into logical entities
               (classes, programs, schools, districts, etc.)?

      7.2.3 Reporting
            a. How does your product detect and report broken Web links?

7.3   TECHNICAL
      7.3.1 Data
            a. How does your system track and store user data (i.e., IDs and Passwords, home school
               or class or organization, student generated data such as assignments, etc.)? Describe
               how your system provides the ability to track the usage of course materials by students,
               and to perform additional analysis and reporting both of aggregate and individual
               usage. Describe any facilities for statistical analysis of student-related data and the
               display the progress of individual students in the course structure, including both
               activities and the time stamps of when the activity occurred. Describe how your system
               allows instructors to access student demographics and share comments.

             b. How is user information extracted?

             c. How does your system store course content?

      7.3.2 Integration
            a. Describe how your products integrate with other third party products.

             b. Can your system be integrated with existing SIS systems? If so describe in detail the
                systems supported and methodologies used.

             c. Describe the API (application programming interface) implemented to allow integration
                with student information systems, e-learning portals, centralized registration systems,
                content management systems, etc.



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7.3.3 Compliance with Content Development and Exchange Standards
      a. How do your products conform to standards and specifications for e-learning and data
         systems? (e.g. SCORM, IMS, etc.)

7.3.4 Graphical Interface Customisation
      a. How do your products allow for graphical interface customisation of the organization
         or program home page and course home page?

       b. Describe how your product gives users the ability to change the structure, navigation,
          and graphics that determine how a course looks.

       c. Describe how your product enables users to brand courses and content with institutional
          logos and navigation to provide a consistent look-and-feel across the entire institutional
          site and integration with additional institutional resources.

7.3.5 IT Architecture
      a. Describe in detail the IT architecture of the product. Include the recommended
         hardware, network, interfaces and the standards supported.

       b. Briefly describe how the administrative system works, including user access levels
          (e.g., administrator, instructor, student or other), and the levels of privileges that users
          have at each level.

       c. Does your system allow for customisation? If so, how?

       d. Describe how your product will scale to meet a growing program.

       e. Describe in detail how your product is implemented.

7.3.6 System Requirements
      a. Describe in detail the overall system requirements to operate your system, include
         details of various operating systems and databases supported. Include details about any
         software requirements for end users desktops.

7.3.7 Database Requirements
      a. Describe in detail the database systems supported, including hardware and OS
         requirements to support the three implementation scenarios indicated in the Pricing and
         Licensing section of this document.

7.3.8 Hosted Services
      a. Is your system available/supported as a hosted application? If so, provide details of
         implementation, along with all local hardware requirements and network requirements
         including ports used and firewall issues, if known.

       b. Describe in detail the network requirements to support your system including minimum
          bandwidth per client required and any systems/features you have in place to optimize
          bandwidth requirements.

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             c. Include details of port (TCP and/or UDP) usage, any known firewall issues, and detail
                any differences between a hosted or local solution.

             d. Does your system require any LAN protocols (NetBIOS, Netware etc.)?

7.4   CORPORATE
      7.4.1 Experience
            a. If applicable, briefly describe one or two projects where your product has been
               implemented within various educational environments (e.g. workplace training, higher
               education, K-12 education, workforce re-entry programs, etc.), in the last five years,
               preferably in Canada.

             b. Please provide a company profile, including a copy of your last audited financial
                statement.

             c. Please provide three client references.

7.5   PRICING AND LICENSING
      7.5.1 Specific Quotes
            Please provide your lowest possible price quote for each of the following implementation
            scenarios (2 year license period, plus annual renewal option, thereafter):

             a. 8 School Districts with 3,000 seats
             b. 30 School Districts with 10,000 seats
             c. 2-3 year global, provincial pricing structure for BC

      7.5.2 Pricing Model/Formulas
            Please provide formulas and estimates of the capital, start-up (including any limits on the
            numbers of students, instructors, or concurrent connections to the server), and operating
            costs for the following components of your solution:

             a. Application Software
             b. Technical Training
             c. On-going support and maintenance
             d. Additional items

             Be sure to describe your current range of pricing strategies (for example, by number of
             instances, number of registered users, number of concurrent users, etc.).

      7.5.3 Included
            a. Please describe any components other than those listed in the Critical Requirements and
               Desirable Features checklists, which will be included in your solution at no extra
               charge.

      7.5.4 Additional Cost Pricing
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             a. Please provide costs for any additional components not included in the above listing.

8. Evaluation Process
   This section details the process and the criteria by which submissions will be evaluated. Vendors
   should ensure that they respond fully to all criteria in order to receive full consideration during
   evaluation.

   Project Stages

Stage 1: Written Submission Pre-screening
         (Project Leader)
         a. Verification of Mandatory Requirements (objective)

Stage 2: Written Submission First Cut
         (Evaluation Team: Project Committee)
         a. Verification of Critical Requirements (objective)

Stage 3: Written Submission Evaluation
         (Evaluation Team: Project Committee + 1 Technical/Administrative expert and 1
         User/Designer expert)
         a. Evaluation of Critical Requirements description (subjective)
         b. Evaluation of Desirable Features description (subjective)
         c. Evaluation of Vendor Response (subjective)
         d. Short-list approximately 3-5 platforms (based on scores)

Stage 4: Product Evaluation
         (District Evaluation Teams: 1 Technical/Administrative expert and 1 User/Designer expert
         each)
         At least two teams will evaluate each short-listed platform. A third team will be used if there is
         wide disagreement between the first two. Each team will evaluate between 1 and 3 platforms.
         a. Optional demonstrations of short-listed platforms will be held in a central location, with
             provision for online participation. Demonstrations are for evaluator information only and
             will not be evaluated or scored.
         b. Re-evaluation of all criteria:
             - Hands-on evaluation of Critical Requirements and Desirable Features in short-listed
                 platforms
             - Re-evaluation of Vendor Response (including vendor answers to pricing questions) in
                 consideration of hands-on evaluation
         c. Selection of 1-3 finalists (DEL Consortium Committee)

Stage 5: Demand Aggregation
         The results of the evaluation process will be made available to the DEL Consortium members
         and all school districts and they will be asked to make firm purchase commitments for a 2-year
         term, with an option for subsequent annual renewal. Other jurisdictions such as Independent
         Schools, the Post Secondary sector, and the province of Alberta, may also be invited to
         participate.
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Stage 6: License Negotiation
         The Ministry of Education will negotiate licenses for the selected software, according to
         demand, on behalf of the DEL Consortium, the school districts, and any other participating
         parties.

Scoring And Weighting

Overview:

1. CRITICAL REQUIREMENTS (19): Maximum: 10 each, Sub-Total 190, Overall Value: 40%
      Stage 3: Overall Upset: 70%, (133)
      Stage 4: Individual Upset: 50% (5)

2. DESIRABLE FEATURES (19): Maximum: 5 each, Sub-Total 95, Overall Value 20%

3. VENDOR RESPONSE: Sub-Total 190, Overall Value 40%

       Question Categories:                                Maximum
       -Design                                               10
       -Administration                                       10
       -Technical                                            45
       -Corporate                                            25
       -Pricing/Licensing
            i. Small Scale Implementation Quote                10
           ii. Medium Scale Implementation Quote               25
          iii. Large Scale Implementation Quote                45
          iv. Model/Formulas                                   10
           v. Included Components                               5
          vi. Additional Cost Components                        5

                                                     Total: 475

Detailed Description:

Stage 1: Written Submission Pre-screening
         Any submission that does not meet the Mandatory Requirements will be eliminated from
         consideration. No evaluation will take place at this stage.

Stage 2: Written Submission First Cut
         Any submission that does not include ALL of the Critical Requirements will be eliminated
         from consideration. No evaluation will take place at this stage.

Stage 3: Written Submission Evaluation
         The goal of this stage is to short-list products for hands-on evaluation in Stage 4. The same
         criteria will be used for both Stage 3 and Stage 4. Submissions will be evaluated according to
         vendor’s descriptions of how their solution meets the Critical Requirements and the Desirable
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         Features, and according to the responses to the questions/requirements in the Vendors
         Response section. Critical Requirements may be in final development at this stage, but must
         be fully functional for the hands-on product evaluation in Stage 4, a few weeks later.

         a. Critical Requirements: max score: 10 each (x 19)

                      SUB-TOTAL: 190 points (40% of total value), Upset Score: 70% (133)

         A minimum, overall score for Critical Requirements will be set by the Evaluation Team.

         b. Desirable Features: max score: 5 each (x 19)

                      SUB-TOTAL: 95 points (20% of total value)

         c. Vendor Response: (190 points maximum, 10/10/45/25/100)
         -As described in the Overview.

         A submission may be eliminated at Stage 3 if the Evaluation Team determines that pricing is
         excessive compared to similar packages

                      SUB-TOTAL: 190 points (40% of total value)

         Any submission that receives a total score below a criterion level to be set by the Evaluation
         Team (e.g.: 50%, for 3a + 3b + 3c) will be eliminated and will not make the short-list. These
         scores are for the purpose of short-listing only and will be re-evaluated at Stage 4. A maximum
         of 5 solutions will be short-listed for in-depth evaluation.

                      SHORT-LISTING TOTAL: 475 points

Stage 4: Product Evaluation
         The purpose of this stage is to identify the one or two products that provide the best value and
         functionality for the lowest price.

         a. Critical Requirements: max score: 10 each (x 19), Upset Score: 50% (5)
            (re-evaluation)

                      SUB-TOTAL: 190 points (40% of total value)

         Products that fail to meet the upset score for ANY critical requirement at Stage 4 will be
         eliminated from consideration. A minimum, overall score for Critical Requirements will be set
         by the Evaluation Team.

         b. Desirable Features: max score: 5 each (x 19), no upset
            (re-evaluation)

                      SUB-TOTAL: 95 points (20% of total value)

         c. Vendor Response (190 points maximum, 10/10/45/25/100)
            (re-evaluation)
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   Vendors’ Responses will be re-evaluated using the same scoring and criteria as in Stage 3.

   Vendor’s answers to the Committee’s questions regarding proposed pricing and licensing
   models will be evaluated at this stage.

            SUB-TOTAL: 190 points (40% of total value)

A maximum of 3 submissions will be put forward for the consideration of the DEL Consortium
and school districts. A minimum total score will be set accordingly, by the Evaluation Team.

            FINAL TOTAL: 475 points




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Appendix A:              Critical Requirements
The following are critical requirements for an e-learning platform solution. (See Appendix C for a glossary of
terms)

1.    Learner Communication Tools

                     Requirement              Y N             Reference to Vendor Response
1.1 Discussion Forums

1.2 File Exchange

1.3 Internal Email


2.    Learner Productivity Tools

                     Requirement              Y N             Reference to Vendor Response
2.1 New User Orientation

2.2 Self-progress Review


3.    Student Involvement Tools

                     Requirement              Y N             Reference to Vendor Response
3.1 Group-work

3.2 Self-assessment

3.5 Student Portfolios


4.    Administrative Support Tools

                     Requirement              Y N             Reference to Vendor Response
4.1 Registration


5.    Curriculum Support Tools

                     Requirement              Y N             Reference to Vendor Response
5.1 Curriculum Management

5.2 Instructional Design Tools


6.    Instructor Support Tools

                     Requirement              Y N             Reference to Vendor Response
6.1 Automated Testing and Scoring

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                 Requirement             Y N           Reference to Vendor Response
6.2 Course Management

6.3 Online Grading Tools


7.    Standardization Specifications

                 Requirement             Y N           Reference to Vendor Response
7.1 Client Browser Required

7.2 Instructional Standards Compliance

7.3 Migration Considerations


8.    Technical Administration Specifications

                 Requirement             Y N           Reference to Vendor Response
8.1 Authentication

8.2 Course Authorization




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Appendix B:             Desirable Features
The following are desirable features for an e-learning platform solution. (See Appendix C for a glossary of
terms)

9.    Learner Communication Tools

                   Requirement                Y N             Reference to Vendor Response
9.1   Online Journal/Notes


10. Learner Productivity Tools

                   Requirement                Y N             Reference to Vendor Response
10.1 Bookmarks

10.2 Resume Course function

10.3 Searching Within Course

10.4 Work Offline/Synchronize


11. Learner Real Time Tools

                   Requirement                Y N             Reference to Vendor Response
11.1 Application Sharing

11.2 Group Web Browsing

11.3 Real-time Chat

11.4 Video Services

11.5 Voice Chat

11.6 Whiteboard


12. Student Involvement Tools

                   Requirement                Y N             Reference to Vendor Response
12.1 Student Community Building

12.2 Student Helpdesk


13. Administrative Support Tools

                   Requirement                Y N             Reference to Vendor Response
13.1 Secure Transactions


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                  Requirement            Y N          Reference to Vendor Response
13.2 User Defined Reporting Capability


14. Curriculum Support Tools

                  Requirement            Y N          Reference to Vendor Response
14.1 Course Layout Templates


15. Instructor Support Tools

                  Requirement            Y N          Reference to Vendor Response
15.1 Instructor Community Building

15.2 Instructor Helpdesk


16. Standardization Specifications

                  Requirement            Y N          Reference to Vendor Response
16.1 Accessibility Compliance




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Appendix C:            Glossary of Terms

E-learning Platform Requirements Glossary
Accessibility Compliance
Accessibility compliance means meeting the standards that allow people with disabilities to access information
online. Persons with disabilities (e.g. the blind) use a device to 'read' the screen.

Accessibility for persons with disabilities entails providing for a version that can be processed by a screen
reader such as JAWS. Many screen readers have difficulty rendering frames, tables, and images (without alt text
tags). The practical accessibility difficulties are compounded by the fact that many persons with disabilities do
not have the recent equipment and software.

Application Sharing
Application sharing allows a software program running on one computer to be viewed, and sometimes
controlled from a remote computer. For example, an instructor using this feature can demonstrate a chemistry
experiment or a software utility to an online student and allow the students to use the demonstration software
from their own computer.

Authentication
Authentication is a procedure that works like a lock and key by providing access to software or a computer
system by a user who enters the appropriate user name and password. The term also can refer to the procedure
through which user names and passwords are created and maintained.

Authentication systems can involve a single logon that is the most user-friendly and most vulnerable to hacking.
More complicated systems can involve layers with separate logons for each layer.

Automated Testing and Scoring
Automated testing and scoring tools allow instructors to create, administer, and score objective tests.

Some products provide support for proctored testing in a suitable computer lab classroom as an approach to
ensuring academic honesty.

Bookmarks
Bookmark is a tool that lets users save and find web addresses. Also known as a “webliography”.

Client Browser Required
Client Browser Required is the web browser version (e.g. Internet Explorer 3.0, Netscape 4.0) that will work
effectively with the online learning system.

Course Authorization
Course authorization tools are used to regulate who can use the software and in what way.

Authorization tools assign access privileges and other privileges to specific users or user groups. E.g. Teaching
assistants, Designers.


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Course Layout Templates
Course layout templates are tools that help instructors create the initial structure for an online course.

Course Templates are artefacts of particular pedagogical approaches to instructional content and process. The
local value of particular templates will depend in part on the match between the template designer's approach
and the specific instructor's approach.

Course Management
Course management tools allow instructors to control the progression of an online class through the course
material.

Course Management tools are used to make specific resources in a course, such as readings, tests or discussions,
that are available to students for a limited time only, or after some prerequisite is achieved. This deliberate
unfolding of the course resources can be used to prevent students from being overwhelmed and discouraged.
Some systems enable this course management to be individualized so that course experience can be tailored to
accommodate individual learner situations.

Curriculum Management
Curriculum management provides students with customized programs or activities based on prerequisites, prior
work, or testing.

Curriculum Management includes tools to manage multiple programs, to do skills/competencies management,
and to do certification management. These tools may be similar to the tools used in student services as part of
providing academic advising to students. Survey and user feedback tools are also included in this category.

Discussion Forums
Discussion forums are online tools that capture the exchange of messages over time, sometimes over a period of
days, weeks, or even months. Threaded discussion forums are organized into categories so that the exchange of
messages and responses are grouped together and are easy to find.

Discussion forums tools are very similar to Usenet newsgroups where text conversations over time are
displayed. The organization of the messages can be a simple temporal sequence or they can be presented as a
threaded discussion where only messages on a specific topic called a thread are displayed in sequence.

File Exchange
File exchange tools allow learners to upload files from their local computers and share these files with
instructors or other students in an online course.

File Exchange tools enable downloading files and upload or posting files over the Web from within the course
(a.k.a. assignment drop box).

Group Web Browsing
Group Web Browsing allows an instructor to guide learners on a tour of web sites using a shared browser
window.

Group-work
Group Work is the capacity to organize a class into groups and provide group workspace that enables the
instructor to assign specific tasks or projects.
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Some systems also enable groups to have their own communications features like real-time chat and discussion
forums.

Instructional Design Tools
Instructional design tools help instructors creating learning sequences, for example, with lesson templates or
wizards. A central repository for sharing content such as graphics and files should be available so that
documents that are shared between courses can be changed in just one place. Also the navigation bars should
be available between courses so all courses can have a consistent look and feel.

Instructional Standards Compliance
Instructional standards compliance concerns how well a product conforms to standards for sharing instructional
materials with other online learning systems.

Instructional Standards Compliance involves trying to make it possible for applications from different product
producers to work well together. There are presently several proposed standards but the most prominent are the
standards developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium that define the technical specifications for
interoperability of applications and services in distributed learning and support. The IMS standards can be
found at www.imsproject.org. The SCORM standards-in-progress integrate the industry specifications from
IMS, AICC, IEEE, and ADRIANE and are operational standards with corresponding compliance test suites for
learning objects (www.adlnet.org/main.html). In terms of compliance there appear to be three levels: awareness
of the standards, claimed partial compliance, and self-tested compliance with the SCORM test suites.

Instructor Community Building
Instructor Development Tools enable online instructors to create a community with other instructors to share
ideas or build knowledge.

Instructor Community Building tools enable online instructors to connect with their colleagues, share
experiences and share knowledge. There are many different forms of these tools including: a frequently asked
question list (FAQ), a virtual instructor café, instructor discussion forums, online teaching hints and tips,
mentoring services, buddy systems, etc.

Instructor Helpdesk
Instructor helpdesk tools include resources available for instructors who need help using the product software.
This does not typically include assistance with content.

Instructor helpdesk tools are facilities to assist technical support personnel in providing technical assistance to
instructors using the application as well as possibly additional online resources for specifically for instructors.

Internal Email
Internal email is electronic mail that can be read or sent from inside an online course.

Email tools enable messages be read and sent exclusively inside the course or alternatively the tools enable
links to external email addresses of those in the course so that contacting course members is facilitated.

This feature should include forwarding of attachments, grouping as in an Address Book, a school directory, and
a history of messages received and read.

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Migration Considerations
Migration considerations are factors that may affect the decision whether to switch from this product to another.

Migration considerations are situations that would make switching to another application more complicated,
such as proprietary data formats for content that make it difficult to import course content into another
application. Also there are sometimes situations that complicate the upgrading from one version of the software
to a later version. To the extent that student data is maintained in the system there can be separate complications
in migrating non-course information to other versions or platforms.

New User Orientation
New User Orientation provides tools to help students learn how to use the online learning software, often in the
form of a self-paced tutorial or guide.

New User Orientation tools enable the student to make the best use of the software. These tools provide
tutorials or guides to the various aspects of the software. Sometimes additional tools are included to support
effective study practices, which can range form simple review tools to mini courses in how to study effectively.

Online Grading Tools
Online grading tools help instructors grade and provide feedback on student work.

Online Grading Tools enable the instructor to grade, store grades, and delegate the grading process to teaching
assistants. Some tools provide for editing and written feedback that support the review of student-generated
material within the course.

Online Grading tools enable the instructor to choose which assignments a student will have to submit and which
ones will be exempt. The grade will then be calculated just from the assignments that were assigned to that
student. It will also have reporting capabilities to generate interim and final report cards. To save the instructor
time, custom reporting codes should be part of the reporting functionality.

Online Journal/Notes
Online Notes/Journal enable students to take notes or keep a journal inside the course in a private workspace,
either for the student's private use or to be shared with the instructor.

Online Note/Journal tool enables students to record private reflections about course experiences or specific
aspects that may only be viewed by that student and the instructor. This tool can be used to facilitate writing
assignments where parts are written over time and then later assembled into a document. This tool also can be
used to make something like personal annotations to the pages of course that can later be used as a study aide.

Real-time Chat
Real-time chat is a conversation between people over the Internet that involves exchanging messages back and
forth at virtually the same time.

Chat includes facilities like Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Instant Messenger, and similar text exchanges in real
time. Some chat facilities allow the chats to be archived for later reference so that they may be more easily used
as part of a course grading system.

Registration
Registration tools support the enrolment of students in an online course either by the instructor or through self-
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registration of the students themselves.

Some registration tools allow instructors to enrol students in batches through the use of formatted text files.
Time limited student self-registration may also be available to shift the clerical burden of the process to the
students. This feature is does not include the integration of the online learning system with an administrative
student registration or information system. For more details on the automated enrolment and transfer of student
information see the feature "Integration with SIS."

Resume Course function
A course placeholder allows users to save their place in an online course.

The course placeholder allows the user to stop working on a course temporarily, shut down the browser and
then at later time resume the course where they had left off. When the user resumed the course, the course
placeholder tool could be used to take the user directly to the page of the course or the Sharable Content Object
where they had stopped working. With Sharable Content Objects that contain more than one page the user may
not be returned to the exact page where they had stopped.

Searching Within Course
Searching within a course is a tool that allows users to find course material based on key words.

Searching tools enable students to locate parts of the course materials on the basis of word matching beyond the
user's current browser page (which can be searched using the browser>edit>find menu).

Secure Transactions
Secure Transaction tools provide for secure online exchanges and e-commerce activities, including monetary
transactions and other secure data transfers.

Secure credit card transaction also involve making additional arrangements with financial institutions for the
funds to be transferred to the institution and these arrangements may have a separate cost structure.

Self-assessment
Self-assessment tools allow students to take practice or review tests online. These assessments generally do not
count toward a grade.

When Self-assessment tools are combined with pedagogical skill in preparing the content of the test items and
response feedback there can be large positive effects on student motivation.

Self-progress Review
Student Progress Review tools enable students to plan for their workload and assignments typically through a
course calendar. This may include the use of an online calendar.

Student Progress Review tools enable the student to check marks on assignments and tests as well as their
progress through the course material. In some tools there are additional provisions to support student workload
planning as well by means of a calendar type of tool.

Student Community Building
Student Community Building tools enable online instructors to create community for students to share ideas or
build knowledge.
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Student Community Building tools can include facilities to encourage and enhance morale. These tools allow
the instructor to create and manage small groups using discussion threads, chats, or other course tools in a larger
class so that small group members can interact with each other enough to develop friendships.

Student Helpdesk
Student helpdesk is a set of resources that provide assistance to students needing help to use the software. A
student helpdesk does not typically offer help with course content.

Student helpdesk tools facilitate the tasks of an operator responding to requests for help by student users of the
application and may include some online resources directly available to students such as context sensitive
helpful hints and wizard style assistants.

Student Portfolios
Student Portfolios may be used by students as personal homepages or may be a place for them to showcase their
work in a course.

 User Defined Reporting Capability
Tools to allow authorized users to define the data-fields’ sort and selection criteria and format, to produce user-
defined reports.

Video Services
Video Services enable real-time voice and picture (video) interaction as part of the course.

Video Services include tools for broadcasting video to those without a video input device. Some video services
provide for two-way or multi-way video conferencing that may be point-to-point connections or mediated
through a central server.

Voice Chat
Voice Chat tools enable two or more people to verbally communicate by microphone and speaker or by
conference call.

Voice Chat tool enables two or more to communicate via microphone and speaker conference call style over the
Internet connection in real time. Alternatively, a functionally similar tool is used to set up and manage a
conference call using the telephone system.

Whiteboard
An electronic version of a dry-erase board used by instructors and learners in a virtual classroom. Also called
smart board or electronic whiteboard.

Work Offline/Synchronize
The ability to work in the course environment offline, and for the work to be synchronized with the next login
to the course environment. This applies to work on PDA’s (e.g. Palm; Handspring)
Being able to work in a course environment offline is especially useful in situations where communication links
are unreliable or expensive. This offline environment is essentially a local client application that embodies the
important features of the online product without the constant connection to the Internet.



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Lingjuan Ma Lingjuan Ma
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