ROLE OF THE E-LEARNING PLATFORM IN THE INTEGRATED SYSTEM OF THE MANAGEMENT OF THE UNIVERSITY
The paper is concerned with the general problems of the educational process during the university studies supported by the modern tools of the information technology and based on the example and experiences of the Polish-Japanese Institute of Information Technology.
The separate computer applications existing in the universities help the lecturers and administration to control and follow the course of the studies but the needs of these two groups of the university employees are different. These needs meet at the moment of the promotion of the student – the most important object of the educational activity of the university.
In PJIIT the stand-alone e-learning platform, called EDU, was constructed in 2001 and the Internet supported studies for the title of the engineer of information technology were started in 2002. System EDU organize and ease the communication between the students and the lecturers by the means of email addresses base, chat with the graphical table, discussion forum etc. The system is equipped with a number of modules like lectures, laboratories, announcements, work areas enabling the files exchange and much more.
Another application used in PJIIT by students are the virtual faculty office, FTP server, WWW server, the electronic system of student applications to the university authorities and several specialistic systems needed for the realization of the specific classes, like data base servers. This relatively big number of different applications has forced the use of the Active Directory service with the properly modified our applications to enable the user to have the access to all of these important systems using the one common login and password to all services proposed by our Institute.
Much more complicated problem is connected with the big variety of access privileges and big frequency of changes on the users accounts. At the moment among others there are the following types of users:
• MSc and BSc students,
• Open study students,
• Individual course of studies according to the student needs,
• Repetition of the specific courses by the stationary students,
• Non-stationary students.
It has occurred the need to coordinate the e-learning and the virtual faculty office platforms. The advantages of such a solution are the following:
• Automatic establishing of computer accounts,
• Automatic determinations of the account privileges,
• Notifying about the changes on the user accounts,
• Blocking and unblocking the accounts, e.g. in the cases when the payments are in arrears.
The integration of all these computer programs was made with the help of the Microsoft SQL Server. One of the most important merits of such a solution is the easiness of the replication of data between individual computer applications with the help of Integration Services, the tool connected with the MS SQL Server.
After several years of the works on that integrated system we can conclude that the advantages of the applied solutions are very difficult to overestimate. The most important results are the full automatization of the information transfer and the essential reduction of errors in documents.
During our presentation the description of the experiences collected in the process of the integration of the institute computer systems and discussion of advantages and disadvantages of the specific technological solutions applied during the integration of the e-learning platform with the other computer systems will be given.