Open Source LMS from University of Zurich
OLAT(Online Learning and Training) is an open source learning management system (LMS) which delivers learning services for large academic institutions to help their people accomplish a meaningful teaching and learning experience. Its continued development is funded by the University of Zurich where it is the strategic LMS.
There are approximately 70,000 users and nearly 50 institutions in Switzerland using OLAT (with up to 5,000 courses and millions of resources), and the numbers keep on growing! As OLAT is used worldwide, it is available in several languages. The aim of OLAT is that knowledge should be shared, that its sharing should be simple and enjoyable everywhere, at all times and for everyone. What can you do with OLAT? The following content is from its website : www.olat.org.
Today teaching isn’t only about giving lectures and transferring know-how from the lecturer to the student, it can mean reaching a learning goal together. For that, collaboration can be facilitated in OLAT by the use of a project or a learning group. You can provide files with the Folder, enable a discussion Forum, work together via a Wiki or a Calendar, communicate via E-mail or the Chat, and collect your work with an ePortfolio.
It’s easy to inform inside and outside of OLAT in different ways.
Within the course you can offer static or dynamic content: Simply set up Single pages with plain text or based on HTML, link to or embed external pages, as well as implement standardized exchange formats. Content can also be provided in any format as a download from a Folder and as an audio or video file through the Podcast. Not to mention the Wiki or the Forum as collaborative content tools. You don’t have to create all content on your own, just involve your participants! If you wish to inform more in a news like way, you can choose a Blog or the Notifications element.
OLAT provides interaction possibilities for all participants and in various ways. As standard for a LMS there is aWiki, which is the resource where users can create and edit content in a collaborative way to reach a common goal. If you want to establish an online conversation there is the Forum, which is a discussion board. Or more specifically the File dialog, for a debate on a particular document. And the Blog adds an information stream to your courses which can be edited in collaboration with all or only certain participants.
Besides content management it is important to organize for example a joint schedule with a Calendar, which could be course or group specific, and implemented in each users private calendar. Furthermore, all participants can make use of the Chat function to interact in real-time conversations.
Besides the content you require user management within the LMS?
OLAT lets you organize users in groups and different roles within. Wether it is a project or a learning group, it gives all participants a space to contact other group members via E-mail and the Chat, or to work together in a Forum and the use of a Folder or Calendar. Only a group owner has the right to manage these groups: he decides which tools can be used and add members, tutors or other owners of that group.
It is easy to create and manage online assessments with different purposes. For example you can ask questions in various formats (Single choice, Multiple choice, Kprim or Gap text) and give feedback (correct answers, hints) to the participants. This Test element also has an assessment-free version available, the so-called Self-test, which gives your users the chance to prepare themselves for an exam-like situation.
On a bigger scale OLAT allows you to hand out a Task to a group of users. Simply assign a single work or a set of to dos, provide a drop and a return box, and configure deadlines within one OLAT course element. To assess all users clearly you have an easy to use assessment tool with table export options, which makes it simple to additionally handle scores externally. To have a good overview within the system, users can access their Evidences of achievement right at their Home.
In order to focus on the users needs at this point: Today many people are in need of building up a portfolio of their achievements. For this you can benefit from the Portfolio task. With this course element you can assign specific work to do, e.g. to create a wiki entry, take care of a forums thread, and many more. If you want to support and assess a participants work like a thesis, the element Topic assignment gives you much help to handle this task.
To get in touch with users is easy and achievable in direct or indirect manners. Just write an e-mail to a single person or a group of users. This is possible at different points of the system like the users or group management, different course management functions or course elements like the E-mail module.
Notify participants of groups or courses by encouraging them to subscribe to course elements and they will find those news easily at the Subscriptions within their Home or by choosing to receive them by e-mail. For example a subscribable element is the Calendar, which can be used as a communication channel to foster a schedule.
With OLAT you can provide content in different forms. Except for the Wiki, which uses the JAMWiki syntax, all of the integrated text functionality is based on a WYSIWG HTML editor (TinyMCE). This gives you the entire scope of layout options: text formatting, tables and formulas as well as image and video implementation.
You want to import existing content? This is possible with an OLAT Course, or the two well established learning-content standards: CP and SCORM. Both are a collection of standards and specifications for web-based e-learning. OLAT currently supports IMS CP version 1.1.2 and SCORM 1.2, but not the SCORM version of 2004.
Additionally, OLAT has implemented the “IMS Question and Test Interoperability specification” (QTI). This defines a standard format for the representation of assessment content and results. So you can easily create and author the content outside of OLAT and use the assessment also with other delivery systems, repositories and learning management systems.
If you want to integrate an external learning applications into your course, you can do this by using of the course element LTI page. LTI means “Learning Tool Interoperability” and is an IMS standard to embed external learning applications such as a chat, media Wiki, test editor or a virtual lab.
As a system administrator you can access various information about the status of the system and edit its configuration easily through the Administration-tab. For example you can change the Layout and available Languages, trigger Notifications and access the Quota management.
At the User management you can create and search users, edit their preferences (e.g. User profile, System settings, Password or the Roles) as well as getting specific information (Authentications, Properties, Rights and Groups).
Check out the system demo here, or go downloading it for free.