G.G.D. Nishantha1, T.C. Long1, S.N. Jehan1, Y. Hayashida2

1Asia Pacific University (JAPAN)
2Saga University (JAPAN)
In recent years, information and communication technology and multimedia technology have increasingly altered the landscape of the educational field particularly in higher education. Consequently, Learning Management Systems (e.g. commercial systems such as WEBCT/Blackboard and open source LMSs such as Moodle and Claroline) have become an integral component of the education systems in most Universities (e.g. Asia Pacific University in Japan uses Blackboard) to establish an effective blended learning system. They are very effective in managing course contents such as content authoring and course building; support for evaluations through features such as online examination, student evaluation, and grade book; and personalized collaborative learning. However, there is a whole vast of academic activities that current LMSs fail to support properly, most notably Project Management features which help the lecturers manage, monitor, and evaluate students’ project as well as to foster students interaction and knowledge to achieve the set project milestones. Normally, performance evaluation is a very hard task for the lecturer. Having a Project Management System for students in place will lift the burden from the lecturer, and also help save valuable resources.
Existing project management systems such as Basecamp, PhpCollb provide tools for resource management, coordinating the inner working of projects, visualization and meeting deadlines. These systems are very useful in that they help project leaders keep track of the progress, and allow collaboration between team members at the same time. However, these systems do not focus on academic projects which need monitoring and guiding of students’ involvement continuously and interactively. Moreover, since LMSs play a major role in delivering quality, interactive education, the project management features should be integrated to existing LMS systems to gain the full advantage.
With a Project Management System functioning as a module inside a LMS, their advantages are combined to produce a powerful and versatile tool for lecturers. But to effectively help the lecturer evaluate students’ performance and progress, PMS needs to provide an interface for keeping track of progress, and monitoring students’ commitment. In this paper, we propose to use a task-oriented approach, which simplify the evaluation process by dividing a group project into smaller tasks, and assign these tasks to the students using a weight factor to balance the workload.
Another problem we will address is the portability of such a system. As mentioned, there are many LMSs to choose from. The Project Management feature should be built in a way that allows further extension, as well as implementation on different platforms with the least effort. As a result, we need to implement a flexible and portable Project Management System using the modular development approach so that developers can easily add more features to the system, as well as porting it to different LMS platform without having to completely rewrite the program.
The contribution of our paper is 3 fold. First we introduce the design rationale of a PMS that features several important functionalities. Second, we discuss PMS integration as a plug-in interface which can be easily migrated to any existing LMS with slight modifications. Finally, we present the application scenario of the integrated PMS.