Forum .LRN Q&A: First steps with .LRN

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Posted by Richard Hamilton on
I have been asked if it is possible to set up a site to deliver a training course online. I have just installed a blank .LRN 2.5.0 and have started to explore it. I can see and understand the administration pages, and the basic structure for modelling an organisation, its departments, classes and terms. At this stage it is not immediately obvious to me where and how the course syllabus and course content will be stored and delivered.

I would like to set up a demo that includes a single course of study for which there are existing paper documents. I can see that it would be possible to upload any number of documents to the system's file storage module, but I have a sneaky suspicion that this is not the answer! :-)

I have searched the content repository and can see a bewildering array of packages for .LRN. There seems to be no way for me to establish which of these I need at the moment. I have been unable to find much in the way of live documentation since all the MIT Sloan docs have been taken down.

I imagine that it is possible to upload IMS_LD and SCORM content files and have these 'played' on the client machine, but I am not sure which packages I should focus on.

A few jump out at me as possible candidates:

dotlrn-imsld
dotlrn-homework
dotlrn-learning-content
dotlrn-lorsm
dotlrn-research
dotlrn_syllabus
dotlrn-survey
ims-ent
imsld
imsld-portlet
lors-central
learning-=content
learning-content-portlet
lamsint
lamsint-portlet

I wonder if someone can help me by telling me which packages are current and typically most likely to be useful in a .LRN installation.

Presumably the choice is determined by whether your course content is IMS_LD, SCORM or LAMS? I confess I have no idea what LORS is!?

Do I need to decide on a content delivery standard first?

In which case, what is most favoured these days?

Sorry to ask probably stupid questions, but you have to start somewhere.

Regards
Richard

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2: Re: First steps with .LRN (response to 1)
Posted by Emmanuelle Raffenne on
Hi Richard,

dotLRN packages usually are made of 3 packages: the application, the portlet and the applet (dotlrn-? ones). A few packages, like dotlrn-syllabus, rely on existing applications (file-storage in the case of the syllabus) so only the applet is provided.

Regarding content delivery standard, you can install both imsld and scorm, they won't conflict but, yes, at the end you'll have to choose one depending on your needs.

Packages for IMS-LD: imsld, imsld-portlet and dotlrn-imsld
Packages for SCORM: lors, lorsm, lorsm-portlet and dotlrn-lorsm

Hope that will help some.

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3: Re: First steps with .LRN (response to 2)
Posted by Richard Hamilton on
Emmanuelle,

Yes, thank you very much, that helps a great deal. I will install them and see where that takes me.

I have also been studying LAMS which looks like a very nice UI to be able to use. I have found the documenation for integrating LAMS with .LRN so that you can use LAMS to create and sequence learning tasks as if LAMS were part of .LRN.

However, the LAMS docs also says that LAMS is itself a standalone e-learning system, so I am wondering what the overlap is?

For example, I can certainly see that if you are a large organisation and you already have a .LRN set up with all your content in it, you'd probably prefer to just bolt LAMS on with the integration module rather than have to begin again from scratch. But what if you are starting from scratch anyway? Does LAMS ultimately do everything .LRN can do and thus eventually replace it, or are the two complementary?

Regards
Richard

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4: Re: First steps with .LRN (response to 3)
Posted by Emmanuelle Raffenne on
Hi Richard,

I'm sorry but I have zero experience with LAMS, I can't help here.

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5: Re: First steps with .LRN (response to 1)
Posted by Claudio Pasolini on
Hi Richard,

beware of SCORM, unless you are ready to dive into some really ugly code.

If you are lucky some course will run smoothly, but many will not and make them work can be a real challenge: at least this has been my experience importing a fair number of existing courses.

Claudio

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6: Re: First steps with .LRN (response to 1)
Posted by Dave Bauer on
You should look at a simpler setup

1) OpenACS 5.7
2) Layout managed subsite/layout-manager
3) scorm-player, scorm-importer, scorm-simple-lms

New packages developed by Don that support more modern SCORM and in general is going to be simpler to deliver.

It depends really on what type of course you are working on and if there is existing scorm content etc.

I'd probably say the best bet is to use Moodle, unless you have some reason to use OpenACS or .LRN already.

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7: Re: First steps with .LRN (response to 6)
Posted by Richard Hamilton on
Dave,

Ok, that's interesting advice. I can see that 1 & 2 above, are installed as part of a vanilla .LRN, so what you suggest would leave out all the other customisations. I'm not clear why that would be desirable?

Are Don's new packages available yet?

There is no existing SCORM content, new content will be created, so I want to choose the best/most effective route. I am setting this up to help a friend who is doing a masters course on e-learning.

My reasons for leaning towards OpenACS/.LRN are i) personal familiarity, ii) platform already in place, iii) loyalty.

Clearly I should re-visit these, but I'm looking to develop a deeper understanding of these tools as well, so I'd like to be able to learn for example why you would suggest Moodle over .LRN, or for a different application .LRN over Moodle.

I am also very interested in the usability of LAMS (even though it is Flash!) for sequencing, control and monitoring, and I want to understand when you would choose LAMS on its own rather than .LRN with LAMS integrated.

...and Claudio, thanks for the warning on SCORM!

Richard

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8: , (response to 1)
Posted by Dave Bauer on
ok
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9: Re: First steps with .LRN (response to 8)
Posted by Dave Bauer on
Well that wasn't helpful.

It depends on what sort of use your friend will be out of it.

LAMS is an interesting platform, you might want to look at the demos. It can run standalone or as an add-on to .LRN (or other LMS).

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10: Re: First steps with .LRN (response to 9)
Posted by Richard Hamilton on
Yes I saw in the docs that it can run stand-alone, which is why I am left wondering why you would want to run it integrated with .LRN?

What can .LRN do that LAMS can't?

R.

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11: Re: First steps with .LRN (response to 1)
Posted by Dave Bauer on
LAMS is about learning activities.

.LRN and any LMS is about centralized control and organization.

That's all :)

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Posted by Richard Hamilton on
Ok, so can I consider them as complementary systems?

.LRN maps the organisational structure, stores all the students' and teachers' details, provides everyone with a personal space, stores curriculum info, homework info, provides forums, maps clubs and societies, stores all the teaching material (i.e documents, slideshows, video's, quizzes etc.), and contains IMS LD or SCORM scripts to sequence them into lessons.

LAMS provides teachers with a snazzy user interface to help them quickly organise the teaching resources together into sequences. So presumably LAMS must either produce IMS LD or SCORM output, or replace the IMS LD/ SCORM standards?

I'm guessing LAMS also has its own repository for teaching materials, and presumably can store info on teachers and students. So I guess there is overlap in user-login/ access control, and teaching material/ media storage.

In other words I could view .LRN as a learning community (hardly surprising since it is built on OpenACS!) and LAMS as a lesson planning tool?

Am I getting warmer?

:-)

Richard

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Posted by Dave Bauer on
Bingo.
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Posted by Richard Hamilton on
Thanks Dave.

R.