Understand and improve student engagement capacities on the learning platform

Internship carried out between April 14, 2020 and June 19, 2020 to understand and improve student engagement capacities in Koala LMS.

Who am I ?


Dervin Enard

I am student in the IUT Informatique de la Rochelle specialised in intelligent connected environments. When I was introduced into the Koala LMS project, I was immediately motivated to contribute to it. This new style of learning management system is in line with the times and wishes to establish a new teaching system where the learner is at the center of the learning process.

This desire pushed me to end my internship with the Koala Éduc organisation, which supports this project. I was part of the Koala GDPR compliance team during my second year of training at La Rochelle Université. This first experience with Koala allowed me to know the basics of the Django framework while knowing a part of the existing code, which was a great help to me in order to develop the different features of the agora.

My internship

Context

During this internship, I was supervised by Guillaume Bernard. He is responsible for the engineering and technology of the Koala project. He also supervises three other 2nd-year trainees from the ‘IUT Informatique de La Rochelle’, my classmates Louis Barbier, Olivia Bove and Raphael Penault.

Koala LMS is a young project. Many improvements are still to be made, especially in the agora which was developed by a students team from IUT Informatique de la Rochelle in 2019.

The agora area is incomplete, this is basic question answering system. One of my tasks during this internship was to considerably improve the Agora. A second objective of the project was to understand the needs of learning management system users.

the analysis phase

To begin, I sailed in the agora to understand what was missing from it. Then I designed the Users Stories that I modeled with business processes that I transcribed into a BPMN diagram.

About the agora graphical enhancements, Olivia and Raphaël produced an exhausted analysis of the current design in the agora. Then Olivia (in charge of user experience at Koala) created mock-ups of the graphic redesign for the agora space that I followed.

In order to understand the user needs I created an online form using the Framaforms tool which allows to build questionnaires in a simple way and to analyse the answers directly.

Realisation

Improvements relating to agora

  • Agora by the teacher view Teacher agora

  • Agora by the student view Student agora

There are two new features here. First, the question lock. When the teacher decides that a question is important in a course, the teacher can put a lock on it so that it doesn’t disappear (its owner can’t delete it). Second, question deletion. The course owner can delete any question. Unlike a student who can only delete the question if it is not important.

  • Detail of an activity in a course by the student view Student activity agora

Once the question locking feature was implemented, it was important to add a link to the activity agora with a preview of important questions.

  • Question detail by the teacher view Teacher question detail

  • Question detail by the student view Student question detail

We can see 3 new features: First, the validation of a response. Is the same for questions, if the owner of a course considers an answer as important, the user can validate it so that it is not deleted afterwards. If the user decides to validate it it will be placed in the left column on the template. Then, the deletion of an answer. The course owner has the right to delete any question while the author of the answer can only delete his answer if it is not validated by the teacher. And finally, the answer modification. This extremely important feature was not present until now in the agora.

Understanding users needs

At the beginning of my internship, it became essential to know the habits and behaviors of users of Learning Management Systems (LMS). Knowing the habits makes it possible to identify and develop the missing functionalities. In view of the Covid-19 epidemic in France, an online questionnaire is preferred to face-to-face collective and individual interviews. The Framaforms tool was used for the creation of the form.

This form was created in 5 major parts :

1 - Identifying participants by asking three separate questions to build the respondent profile. The respondant is asked about his status in the context of teaching activities (a teacher or a student ?); the age group (under 20, 20 - 25, 25 - 35, etc.). Then, in which structure the respondent works (school, college, high school, university, other structure).

2 - The use of digital platforms. A small list of platforms is drawn up, in order to close off the answers as much as possible and facilitate their processing. The situation is specific to France, where Moodle and Pronote are in the majority. The possible choices are Moodle, Pronote, Notitia, eCampus, École Directe or another tool.

3 - Some of the features offered by these digital tools are listed to determine whether users can correctly identify them. Some functionalities are not yet present in Koala LMS and could be integrated, depending on the results obtained. They are asked if they feel comfortable with the tool they are using and if they feel that their teachers or students are equally comfortable. The features requested are.

4 - To evaluate the interest of a discussion system between users, respondents are asked which alternative platform they use, particularly in the context of the confinement imposed in France, to communicate between students and between students and teachers.

The presentation of these named alternatives helps to identify the features that are desired by users.

5 - Finally, open-ended questions are addressed to respondents. The aim is to collect users’ feelings about the use they make of the educational platforms and to identify their needs. The added value of the functionalities is also recorded, which makes it possible to assess the importance of the functionalities desired by the respondents. They are asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 5, the importance of an online discussion system, and on the same scale, the importance of a mechanism that allows a student to contribute, through a resource repository, to a course. Finally, they were asked whether they think a discussion system is important and why is important.

Once designed on the Framaforms platform, this form is distributed via Facebook and Twitter. This effectively introduces a bias in terms of the target audience, as it is expected that a majority of respondents will be students (college, high school, university) rather than teachers. The questionnaire remained online for 10 days. There were 824 responses, including 813 students and 11 teachers.

Subsequently, I conducted a preliminary analysis of the information collected from this form. However, many questions remained unanswered. This is why I then performed a more in-depth analysis from an Excel spreadsheet.

Experience Gained

Throughout this internship, I demonstrated a great capacity for reflection and autonomy. I knew how to organize myself as well as possible in order to make the maximum of modifications to the application to improve it as much as possible.

I’m very happy to leave workings things after spending some time on Koala LMS. I chose this course for its vision of education and I hope that it will be able to conquer a large number of people as it has conquered me.

I had the chance to work with nice and serious people which greatly motivated me when I added my modifications to the existing Koala. This professional experience, no matter how short it was, was very rewarding and allowed me to improve my web development skills. I have excellent memories of this enriching experience.