Archive for the ‘GSoC’ Category

Screen Cast

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

After having tones of trouble with sound drivers and getting my mic to work i have finally been able to get sound in my screen cast and it uploaded.

You can view the flash version of the screen cast here:

This screen cast is a demo of the first version of the Moodle Grade Book stats and visual reports witch i worked on for Google Summer of Code.

End of My Summer of Code

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Today is the official pencil down date for the 2008 Google Summer of Code and is the last day code can be submitted to be counted in the final evaluation. This is also the week i move back to Thunder Bay to start a new term at Lakehead University, so it has been a busy week of finishing up code and documentation, getting packed up for the move and setting up the server to host a new project i will be a part of this fall.

I have committed the latest code for the project and considering this to be a first release of the report/stats and report/visual plug-ins for Moodle 2.0 dev. I have also update my test site with the newest code so any one can take a look at the plug-ins running in a Moodle install (you can login as guest). I had also hoped to have a screen cast demoing the plug-ins for today however due to some trouble getting sound working right it will probably be ready late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Anthony Borrow has requested that i get an entry for the plug-ins added to the Moodle Modules and Plugins Database and some pages up about it on the Moodle Wiki instructing users how to use the plug-ins and install them, witch i plan to also get done this week, time and internet permitting (i may not have internet access for a few days well moving back to Thunder Bay).

You can download the plug-ins at:


GSoC 2008: Comming to an end

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Google Summer of Code 2008 is coming to an end with the “Suggested ‘pencils down’ date” on the 11th and the “Firm ‘pencils down’ date.” on the 18th and yet i still feel like there is so much that could be added to my project.

Whats done:

  • report/stats gradebook plug-in works and shows text based statics on a courses grades in a table format.
  • report/stats has a modular design that allows for new statics to be dropped in.
  • Printable version of report/stats.
  • Group related functions for report/stats.
  • Settings page for report/stats.
  • report/visual gradebook plug-in’s framework is done and allows for new visualization to be dropped in.
  • report/visual gradebook plug-in’s flash/flex with flare front end is in a running state and can take grade data from Moodle, a visualization’s settings in an XML format and turn them into an interactive visualization for the user.
  • Continuous Grade Distribution Visualization.
  • Grade Distribution by Item (Bar) Visualization.
  • Grade Distribution by Group (Bar) Visualization.
  • Grade Distribution (Line) Visualization.
  • Normalized Grades vs Students Visualization.
  • Ability to invert Visualization’s axes.
  • Ability to hide axes.
  • Ability to hide axes labels.
  • Ability to hide any legend item (hide a group or item).
  • UI Selector widget for changing data source of the visualization.
  • Highlighting of legend items (highly a group or item in a graph).
  • Popup detailing a nodes information/data.

What needs to be done this week:

  • Finish printer friendly version of report/visual.
  • Add in checking of users capability to see if they should be able to view a visualization or statistic.
  • Add in two or three other visualizations i was planing to get in.
  • Finish options page for report/visual.
  • Fix mode problem in report/stats where students could possibly see all grades.

What needs to be done before the 18th:

  • Add more documentation.
  • Do final testing and fix any bugs found.
  • Clean up code.

What i wanted to get in but probably will not have time for:

  • Back port to Moodle 1.9.x
  • Export functionality to other programs and document types like excel.
  • Port to flare 2008.07.29 (new major flare release that had some big changes to the API witch would require some recoding of the plug-in’s front end).
  • Stats and visuals for outcomes and outcome reports.
  • “Find me in data” - a feature i wanted to add to show a user where they are in the data being visualized.
  • More options, more controls, more functions, more cool looking animations, more visualizations, more statistics, etc.
  • Better looking graphically and more natural UI.
  • Add reports that go beyond just grades in a course. Compare diffrent courses, years, drop out trends, age of students, submission times, etc.

Overall i am rather happy with how far the project has come considering that at the start i knew nothing of Moodle, Flex, Flare, Actionscript 3, or much flash. I think the plug-ins that i have made will be use full to teachers and educators and i hope to keep supporting them and working on them in my spare time as a hobby after GSoC has come to an end.


Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Moodle BoxFor my Google Summer of Code project I am working with the open source project Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) which is a PHP based teaching CMS (course management system) which can be used to create web based courses and manage real life ones as well. Moodle offers a much cleaner and simpler system then black board and WebCT (both of witch i have been forced to use as a student for online classes and classes at Lakehead) and is apparently scalable for use by a signal teacher to use by a whole university.

My work consists of creating a new plug-in for the gradebook module in Moodle witch will display statistics relating to grades as well as using Flare (which is a visualization toolkit that uses ActionScript and Adobe Flash) to create some cool looking visualizations of the grades, outcomes and statistics relating to them. The plan is to develop this plug-in for Moodle 2.0 (the future release of Moodle) and then back port it to Moodle 1.9.X (the current release) or make it compatible with both. The original proposal can be found here and the specification for the current project is posted on the Moodle wiki here. If you know anything about Moodle or teaching (or even if you don’t) feel free to comment on the spec here or on the page comments on the wiki.

Requirements Gathering in Toronto

Monday, May 26th, 2008

On Friday the 23rd, I travelled to University of Toronto to meet with Dr. Greg Wilson, several lecturers and the GSoC students who are working on their projects in one of the computer labs. The first item of the day was lunch with the other GSoC students at Ogrady’s (a local bar and grill) where I got to know them and more about the projects they where working on as well as more about the University of Toronto. The university is some what unique in location from others I have been to in Canada in that it’s camps is right in the city and there are no clear borders where the camps stops and the city begins. The constant activity and close proximity to everything you need is a nice change from being out in the rural land out side of Waterloo and even the smaller and less populated city of Thunder Bay and makes me almost wish I had done my undergrad in Toronto (I will definately have to apply to University of Toronto for graduate studies after I graduate from Lakehead).

The next event of the day was meeting with Dr. Wilson and the lecturers to hear their ideas for what visualisations and statistics they would like to see in a grade book plug in for Moodle (more on Moodle and the specifics of my project in my next post). The meeting consisted of going around the room and getting input from each lecturer about what they would like to see in such a plug in and the results were quite promising with many ideas for visualisations I had not yet considered and hearing from the teaching side of things which I have little experience with as a student. Over the weekend I have been going through my notes of the meeting and trying to sort out what ideas will fit in the scope of the project, what ideas are doable and what these visualisations might look like. One concern that was raised at the meeting and will have to be dealt with in relating to what statistics and visualisations will be protecting the personal information and privacy of the student and what information (if any) should instructors have about a students past performance in their program or classes.

Hello World

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Hello and welcome to my development blog. I am Dan, a fourth year computer science student at Lakehead University (in Thunder Bay Ontario) and through this blog i hope to give some insight in to my work with Google Summer of Code 2008 (GSoC) and working on an existing open source project.