eFundi Move: Taking the LMS offline

OpenCollab-eFundi-Move

Marketing of app on eFundi (Sakai) front page.

Since 2007, the North-West University (NWU) in South Africa has worked towards a solution to address the hindrances of using an online Learning Management System (LMS) in an environment where power outages, the lack of Internet availability and expensive data costs remain insurmountable challenges.

Sakai SOLO, an offline-learning product, was introduced to the Sakai community at the Sakai conference in Paris, France in 2008 and in 2009 feedback was given after the successful launch of the product to a small target group of students at the NWU.

OPENCOLLAB, the Apereo commercial partner in Africa, developed SOLO to meet the requirements of the NWU, however this project had to be discontinued in 2011 when all support for Google Gears was suspended by Google.

Since the big trend at the time was mobile apps and the flash disk was slowly becoming old technology, the decision was taken in 2014 to develop a hybrid e-learning solution for the online/offline availability of resources to allow students, even in offline mode, to utilise resources effectively.

The first step was to develop an export function for the NWU’s Sakai instance (eFundi), whereby Lessons could be exported into an eBook file format, more specifically, EPUB 3.

Secondly, the eFundi Move app was developed to allow a student access to content online when he/she has access to the Internet. The synchronisation of content is streamlined to enable offline access to the same content later on. The current Sakai functionalities that are available offline are Resources, Scheduling and Announcements. When an announcement is posted, a notification similar to a WhatsApp notification is sent to the mobile device. The app is currently available in the Google and Apple app stores and a desktop version for Mac and Windows is already in production. The Windows mobile version will be available soon.

opencollab-eFundi-system

Examples of how registered modules can be added, content is synchronised and scheduling appears in a list format.

eFundi Move has been in production at the university since January 2016. Demonstrations to lecturers have been held and the spontaneous take-up among students has been exceptional – with more than 1000 downloads from the Google Play Store at middle February. Active marketing has only commenced on the 22nd of February and a marketing campaign is underway to make this available for additional groups of students and lecturers in the second semester of 2016.

eFundi Move does not solve all the challenges with regards to pervasive online learning, but provides a solution for the next group of students who have intermittent access to the Internet.

Acknowledgements: ITC and Academic Support departments: North-West University

Contact OPENCOLLAB at info@opencollab.co.za for more information about the Synthesis synchronisation engine and offline learning with Moodle and Sakai.

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