Last modified 04/04/08 17:09:04

Persistent Identity

Why are we doing this?

The aim of the pilot is to find away such that students can retain their identity in our short course system instead of starting fresh every term when the short course programme restarts. In creating a persistent identity we are also considering giving the students a permanent community for when they are studying and also if they take a term or twos break.

We are also looking at the possibility of trying to integrate the blog entries with a range of web 2.0 services.

For further info see below, also see the discussion area for more notes about the pilot.

Discussion area


A. Basic information

Title of pilot
Persistent Identity using Moodle Networking
Brief description
Student login accounts will be kept on an Identity Provider (IP) thereby allowing students to retain their account, access to archived courses and the community of students studying online at the Department for Continuing Education.
Purpose of pilot
The objectives of this part of the project are:

  • to consider how to give the students a persistent identity that can be used across courses across multiple terms.
  • To create a community of students who may or may not be actively studying an online short course at any one time – especially across holiday periods when the short courses are not running.
  • To give access to previous courses studied.
  • To give access to course studied such that they may be referenced to, from external sources, i.e. Facebook etc.
  • To allow tutors and staff who work on the development sites to have Single Sin On to all the sites involved with course development/production and the live sites.
  • To create the possibility of doing all of the above and keeping the expense within a reasonable boundary (if running all the above means that we have to cap the courses at a level below that which we could ordinarily handle then is it a financially viable model?)

Tool(s) being piloted
Internal: Moodle networking in Version 1.8.4
External: None
Course in which the pilot is taking place:

  • Subject

One subject from each stream, e.g. Literature, Philosophy & Arts,

  • No. of tutors - 3
  • No. of students - 60

Control course:

  • Not needed

Duration, incl. start and end dates

  • April 08 - Dec 08

B. Detailed description

The pilot will involve the creation of 2 separate Moodle installations:

  • Identity Provider (IP) - Where the student's account (and blog) will stored along with the means to provide a community across the individual courses.
  • Content Provider (CP) - Where the short courses will reside.

At the end of the short courses (12 weeks) the CP will become an archive, the students rights to change/edit/submit to the courses will be amended to read only so that the courses are a genuine archive. Another CP will be created for the Autumn term courses.

The students who return for a course in the Autumn term will have access to their new course, access to the archived course they previously took, access to their blog and access to the online student community. Those students who don't return will still have access to their archived course, their blog and access to the online student community.

C. Rationale and expectations

What existing shortcoming/potential "added value" is the pilot addressing? (i.e. does it aim to solve a specific problem or explore a new direction?)
What questions do we want to answer? (i.e. in relation to the problem/opportunity that we are addressing)
What would we describe as a good (i.e. desirable) or acceptable (i.e. bottom-line) result in terms of

  • Uptake by students
    • Retain their account (login/password)
    • Have access to archived courses they took
    • Desired outcome - that the facilities don't cause problems and the additional facilities aid retention of students
  • Uptake by tutors
  • Feedback from students re its usefulness and usability
    • they like the new features
    • it will encourage them to study further courses and add to their 'portfolio'.
  • Feedback from tutors re its usefulness and usability to them, and their perceptions of its impact on the course
  • Performance of the technology -
    • To retain the current level of reliability
    • That the system proposed does not add additional levels of complexity to get to the material.
  • Acceptability to management - The overall cycle of a set of 10 week courses that the added work load of setting up students with their existing accounts and possible password reset problems are compensated by reduced archiving activities at the end of the course.

D. Envisaged risks & problems

What risks or problems do we foresee?

  • Pedagogical - The ability of the student to retain their blog over one or many courses will mean that students on courses down the line will be able to see old entries which may cause a degree of confusion.
  • Management -
    • Reusing existing students accounts may put a large burden on the course start up procedures.
    • When a student changes their email address between courses may cause confusion when spotting students who have done previous courses.
  • Technical - Connection between the IP and CP must be maintained without failure.
  • Legal
  • Human - students’ use/disposition, tutors’ use/disposition
    • An additional layer of complexity may confuse some students
    • IT Support may increase to levels that are unsustainable

Do we have a plan for averting/dealing with them within the pilot?

E. Intended approach (can be updated later – but variations from the original approach should be noted)

What are the details (incl. timings) of our approach in relation to the following 5 key factors?

  • Pedagogical (embedding in the course)
  • Management (acceptability in terms of costs vs. benefits, …)
  • Technical
  • Legal
  • Human (induction, training…)

F. Evaluation plan (can be updated later):

What kind of evaluation: formative and/or summative?
How & when will we gather evidence to answer our questions?
How will we measure success (i.e. quantify the good/acceptable outcomes specified in section B)?


G. Narrative (record significant moments as they happen, if possible – but aim to synthesise the material into a succinct story of 500 words max.)

What actually happened? (include screenshots, transcripts, audio, survey data etc)
Any unexpected happenings?


H. Analysis

Has a good or acceptable result been obtained?
Why did it run in the way it did?

  • Enabling/impeding factors (specific instances of the 5 key factors + any others)

Any unexpected results/outcomes (+ve and –ve)?
Comparison with expectations
Comparison with “control” course

I. Reflections, implications & recommendations

Overall, what went well (in terms of the 5 key factors)?

  • What can be built on in order to take the pilot further?

Overall, what didn’t go so well (in terms of the 5 key factors)?

  • What needs to be changed?

What does the pilot mean?

  • For TALL’s courses?
  • In a wider context?

Next steps:

  • Within TALL:
    • How will we take the pilot forward?
    • Will we roll this out across courses?
  • Within the wider community:
    • What is our message to the world?
    • How are we going to disseminate it?