Last modified 13 years ago Last modified on 05/07/06 21:00:32

Portal-Toolbox integration


Scenario 1: Using material

Jurgen is a primary school math teacher in Germany. In his school's newsletter was a mention of a EU-wide learning material repository, the Learning Resource Exchange. As Jurgen is eager to improve his teaching, he one day opens his browser and heads to the LRE site.

In LRE Jurgen sees some learning topics, among them mathematics. Clicking on it, he is shown a list of learning material about mathematics. As he's right now teaching trigonometry, he enters that into a search field, and gets material that he's more interested in. He notices that he can store material into a "Basket". He stores a few of the most promising items into his Basket. As the material is open, he downloads them immediately and starts to work on them on his own computer. He also uses the content in his own class and everybody is happy.

Scenario 2: Combining material

After using the content from his own computer Jurgen notices that combining them is hard work. Still he feels that he want to improve it a bit, make out of the materials found from the LRE a larger "course packages". He also knows that the materials found bit too difficult for his students and he must make the material a bit easier.

While working on the material, Jurgen remembers seeing something about "editing" the material in his Basket. So he heads back to the LRE portal to see what that was all about. And he was right: on his Basket page is a link saying, "Edit my material". Next to it is a question mark, and clicking on that Jurgen receives more information:

The LRE provides a Toolbox that you can use to improve, translate, and modify the material you have in your Basket. You can also create new material in a Toolbox. You can also work on material collaboratively, in groups of teachers with similar interests.

Excited, Jurgen clicks on the "Edit my material". A progress bar is showing that something is happening for the materials. After a while Jurgen see the content in a toolbox's collection. Within each content object there are links with functions. The functions are: "move up", "move down" "edit". In the view there are also check boxes next to each object and in the end of the page functions "remove", "use in a template" "make a SCORM package".

Jurgen decides to try out what happens with the "use in a template" -function. He believes that this is maybe the way to combine the different pieces of content to a single presentation. He was right. He gets a page where he can choose the template and may then add his pieces in it. He works on this for a while, save his work and decides to continue with it later.

Another day he visits LRE and sees the little link "toolbox" in the top of the page. He clicks the link and is lead to the front page of the toolbox with functions he is familiar with from his earlier visit.

Scenario 3: Creating material

Jurgens wife Helga is a chemistry teacher in a secondary school. Jurgen tells Helga about the LRE and shows around what he has done in there. Helga is more advanced computer users and has made a number of learning materials for her students. The materials are PDF-files, presentation slides and some Flash animations for chemistry. She is willing to use LRE to give her students an easy access to these materials.

She checks out the portal side of the LRE and notices that the toolbox must be the place where she can publish her materials. She goes straight to the toolbox front page, have a look of some materials made by some other users, find a group of German speaking chemistry teachers, joins the group and start to add her materials to the toolbox. Soon she is a celebrity among the German chemistry teachers. And everybody is happy.

Decision proposals based on the scenarios

  • To make it easy for users to move between the two sides (portal and toolbox) of the LRE there should be a single sign-on.
  • Users can choose to start browsing and using the LRE/Portal/Toolbox from the "toolbox" -side. For this reason each page of the LRE/Portal/Toolbox should have a link that take you to the "front page" of the toolbox (link word: toolbox). Same way each page should have a link that leads to the "front page" of the portal (link word: portal). We have proposed that we will use here a tiny grey bar with the links (portal in the left side / toolbox in the right side).
  • Communities need shared objects they are working on (see e.g. In the Toolbox the shared objects are the content, descriptions of activities and tools that the community is working on: creating, improving them etc. To do this communities must have tools to generate groups, have comminucation tools and tools to shared objects under development. We are developing this kind of fuctionality to the toolbox. For this reason we propose that in the LRE/Portal/Toolbox the community will be the toolbox's "community" section.
  • User will easily recognize when she is using portal side (search) and when the toolbox side of the LRE. User will learn logics of the both systems and with a visual hints she is told where she is and what logics works in there. Another option is that we will unify the UI by making and following a common Human Interface Guidelines. Our guidelines (draft) is at


Here we will write what we must do to do this.

Comment by jim.ayre@… on Fri Apr 28 16:22:01 2006

"Communities need shared objects they are working on (see e.g. In the Toolbox the shared objects are the content that the community is working on: creating, improving etc. For this reason we propose that in the LRE/Portal/Toolbox the primary community will be the toolbox's community section."

I agree that communities may function best when they are focused on the shared resources. However, as indicated in version 3 of the paper, I suspect that, initially, the majority of teachers who come to the LRE may not have the time or skills to create or adapt materials and many may be hesitant about using a 'toolbox', particularly if they are not regularly using a VLE.

So, I think we need some form of community(ies) for these teachers as well. They may be much more interested, for example, in case studies, lesson ideas and guidelines of how to use the material they have found rather than a community focussed on collaborative authoring, adapting, translating etc. In MELT, we may also want to establish a community for teachers who actively tag resources on the portal.

I am not sure it is helpful, thererfore, to think in terms of "primary" and secondary communities. Maybe we should just focus on providing different sorts of communities based on the needs of groups of teachers that can make different levels of commitment - based on the amount of time they have available and their level of ICT competence and confidence?

Comment by tarmo on Tue May 2 17:41:56 2006

More discussion about communities will be in the Communities page.

Comment by teemu on Sun May 7 21:00:32 2006

I removed the word “primary” from the point about the communities. I think the LRE should include both: social recommendations and community tools for people interested in to work with some shared objects.

If the system is well designed the “extra community features” do not confuse the basic users using it simply for searching content. Wikipedia is a good example of it. 95% of the users are simply using it but for the 5% of users who are willing to edit and discuss about the content there are feature rich tools for this.