Unofficial Drupal in Higher Education Online training announcement

So it’s been awhile since I wrote about anything happening with Drupal in education and decided I’d clue you all in on what the future holds for us.  For the Fall semester there will be two exciting new modules released from the e-Learning Institute under the ELMS umbrella.  The first is the Assignment Studio which allows you to manage grades and helps establish a standardized way via taxonomy terms that students can submit their work.  It’s mostly a routing module to help you understand how you can setup an assignment submission system in Drupal and then an intense GUI to make it all very easy to manage.  In past builds we’ve been able to handle 2 instructors / TAs grade 40+ assignments (per student) for a class of 150.

This is all made possible via the second module that will be released called the Rubric module.  I’m particularly happy with the direction that the rubric module has taken simply because it has real instructional backing in the naming conventions used.  It’s also going to be setup on a standardized architecture w/ another rubric project on campus so (theoretically) you could use either Drupal or a Flex app to manage / display / assess work.  Great UI going on with that project as well and it’s probably 85% completed if you’ve been keeping up on my screencasts.

The last thing, which I’m most excited to tell you about, is an idea that’s come up in the past over at the institute and now is going to come to fruition.  We’re always grappling with three big issues:

  1. How do we get instructors to implement new technologies effectively?
  2. How do we ensure that these new technologies are stable yet push the envelop in education?
  3. How can we get into the OER “marketplace” when because our courses we develop need to be locked down to course section?

Solution : I wil be creating a course (with help from the rest of our team) that essentially covers how we do business.  There will be (at the moment at least) 3 main modules to the “course”.  One on Drupal, one on Instructional Design, and one on Graphic Design.  This will help me get my feet a bit more wet with instructional design, get something out in the OER realm, and teach people about topics that we’re working on day to day.

I became inspired by this video http://vimeo.com/5493202 in which the speaker suggests that as a web 2.0 business you need to sell your byproducts.  Our byproduct is an effective and advanced e-learning unit that produces high touch, high polish courses.  Now, I know that as part of a university we can’t really “sell” what we do but we can certainly help others learn from what we’re doing well (and not so well) in the past.  This also gives me the oppurtunity to utilize some new teaching technologies that remain widely untapped in our courses.  For example, we’re just recently getting into using Vimeo for instructor introductions to our courses.  I’ll be demonstrating how to do it as well as others in the unit if our course gets big enough.  Another example of a technology I’ll be using to demonstrate concepts is The Pulse (http://www.livescribe.com/).  With this I’ll be able to draw diagrams of how our architecture works internally (Drupal + our modules) and speak at the same time.  This will help with context which I hope will help with knowledge transfer as it relates to the topic.

At the moment the Assignment Studio / Rubric modules are my #1 priority (as well as integration into our courses) but I’ll be working on this course when I need to take a break from code.  Any thoughts on topics you’d like to see covered or level of detail?  I’ll appriciate any / all feedback so we can meet your needs.  Our technology test bed can be your next best OER resource 🙂

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