Open source software development process for the development of open source e-learning systems
Krishnamurthy, Aarthy (2013) Open source software development process for the development of open source e-learning systems. Master of Engineering thesis, Dublin City University.
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Over the last decade, numerous educational institutions and corporate world have employed various kinds of e-learning software solutions. One of the major components of end-to-end e-learning solution is the learning management system (LMS). These LMS are either developed as open source software (OSS) or close source software (CSS) product. In this regard, CSS for e-learning systems has a major drawback of being expensive and this hinders its widespread use. On the other hand, OSS is virtually free and not restricted by the licensing costs. The benefits of OSS can be completely realized only if there is an effective contribution from OSS community towards its development.
It is clear from the literature that the OSS development community does not follow an explicitly defined and documented software development process. This in turn results in lack of detailed information in the literature about the problems arising due to the absence of a defined process. Nevertheless, some of the major issues with regard to OSS development for LMS that have been identified include software design issues, week user Interface, lack of complete and accessible documentation, lack of co-ordination between unknown developers, etc.
This research develops a generalized OSSD process that could be used for the development of an open source (OS) e-learning system. To begin, in order to understand the current development practises of the existing OS e-learning systems, a detailed analysis was carried out for three different and popular OS e-learning systems (Moodle, ILIAS and Dokeos). The result of this analysis was represented as an Activity Flow Diagram which enabled precise identification of the implicit software development stages. In the next stage, in order to identify the output produced for each and every stage of development, a DEMO methodology was applied and DEMO models were built for three e-learning systems (Moodle, ILIAS and Dokeos). This is a particularly novel contribution that helps enable the development of the generalized OSSD process.
In order to select the different stages of development for the proposed process, the output resulting from each stage of the DEMO model was compared with the outputs prescribed by the ISO/IEC 12207:2008 standard. Further, in order to validate the proposed process, an expert review method was employed by preparing a web-based questionnaire and circulating it along with the proposed process to three different and geographically separated OS experts. The proposed process was subsequently refined based on the feedback received from these experts. It is anticipated that the proposed OSSD process had the potential to streamline the future development of OS e-learning systems.
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