HSRLS News (6)
News from the HSRLS.
I know we've been saying this for some time. But now we mean it. The HSRLS is due to launch soon. We've delayed the launch several times already, but each time we do, we know that we're going to put out a superior product.
I updated our Joomdle version to 0.91. You should not notice too many visual differences (The "My Grades" page has changed), but there's some different stuff going on in the backend.
I had to change the way some of my contributed code worked, as some of my code calls functions in Joomdle that have been modified. I think I've addressed all of the issues on the frontend now. I'll be testing out some of the administrator functions next. I'll report back here when finished.
Edit: I've looked into the administrator functions, such as user creation and migration from Joomla! to Moodle and other integration points. It appears as if everything is functioning as expected.
The second part of HSR101, An Introduction to High Speed Rail is nearing completion. Han and Tom have been working to get these materials finished in time for the launch of the production server. Meanwhile, I am looking into several methods of implementing them within Moodle.
I have received copies of their work both as flash files and as HTML files. The Flash files are easy enough to embed within Moodle. The HTML files are not.
The trouble with Flash is that it is not supported on all devices (Particularly mobile devices, including the iPod and iPhone). The trouble with HTML 5 is that older browsers do not support it.
Also, the HTML5 output from Han and Tom has some odd formatting issues when placed within Moodle, whereas the Flash objects work as expected. I'll be looking into both over the next couple of days.
I've begun the process of migrating some of the courses on the development server to the new production server. So far, everything is going smoothly. I've moved over Introduction to Computer Networking, Standing Committee on Rail Transportation, and High Speed Rail Workforce Symposium. I'm currently deciding whether or not to move HSR101 to the new server now or later, as there is still work that needs doing on the course. (Actually, several of the courses that have been moved over are still under development, but HSR101 is under (very) active development.)
I've also added OLPC Calculus and Vectors, a course created externally by John Rodgers and submitted to Moodle's Cool Course Competition. This course is a very well-formed course that I've kept around since the early days of development to used as a sort of testing playground.
Development of the HSRLS' shiny new production server is progressing at a steady rate. Our launch is only a week and a couple days away, and so far we're on schedule to meet that deadline. We've been working hard to develop and test the software on the system.
There is a whole lot of work to be done between now and then, but here's what we have accomplished so far:
- Installed fresh copies of Moodle 2.2.7 and Joomla 2.5.9.
- IT enabled mbstring and gd extensions for PHP and corrected our permissions within the production server.
- Installed Joomdle integration software.
- Installed necessary Joomla extensions.
- Updated layout to be similar to the HSRLS of the development server, with a couple key changes:
- The main body of the website is now a static width, whereas the old design used a fluid layout.
- The login block of the page has been moved into the main menu of the website and now pops-up on click. This has been done to save real estate on the pages.
- The "My Courses" page no longer links to the "Joomdle Course View". Instead, students and teachers are directed to the course home page in Moodle. This has been done for a variety of reasons. There will be a detailed article on this change later. I'll update this article with the link when that article is published.
- Migrated most of the code contributed by myself to the production server. This process is taking a little longer than initially projected, as I'm ensuring compliance with Joomla's extension architecture and enabling backend configuration. While copying and pasting the code used in the old server would be quicker, I'm using this opportunity to address issues that have been backburnered for some time.
Currently, we're going through the Joomla-side of the HSRLS page-by-page and tweaking layout and content as needed. Once this process is complete, we're going to address Moodle's template and design to be more in keeping with Joomla's design.
After that, the production server should be ready to launch if we don't run into any problems. *Crosses fingers*
The HSRLS team is working hard to complete HSR101 - An Introduction to High Speed Rail. The goal of this course is to be a highly interactive experience that is both informative and fun. It is also the first course that we'll release widely to the public, and it will be free to participate.
Anywho, we'll be putting the finishing touches on HSR101 - Lesson 1 in the next few days. After that, we'll invite select people to test run the course. We hope to do a full launch simultaneously with the release of our brand new production server. *fanfare!*