Oxford Learning College

Case Study

Oxford Learning College (OLC) part of the Oxford Learning Group, is a leading and internationally recognised distance education provider.

They promote high quality home study courses to students globally. Since the establishment of the College in 2000, OLC has provided tuition services and qualifications to over twenty-thousand students; ranging from A-Levels and Level 3 Diplomas to Edexcel accredited BTEC HND courses across a wide variety of subjects.

Using their advanced Virtual Learning Environment and a Student Management System supported by Oxinet, OLC delivers both course contents and tuition entirely online, offering students all the advantages of virtual learning.

The Challenge

OLC has a large number of students enrolled on a variety of different course types, levels and subjects. Ensuring each student has reliable access to their materials and tutors at all times is an essential requirement of maintaining an online college.

OLC had experience of working with an existing WordPress based CMS, which was tailored to their needs using PHP and MySQL.  This allowed students to purchase course content and materials online, however lacked integration with coursework and assignment submission systems.

There was little unity or automation between students submitting and tutors marking work, and verification of syllabus or course completion. Students sometimes experienced delays in the marking of their coursework once submitted, and tutors found it difficult to liaise with students via the website portal, as well as being able to demonstrate marked work for payment.

A more comprehensive and integrated system was required.

The Solution: ‘Campus’

By working with OLC, Oxinet were able to establish a set of requirements which provided the basis for an integrated solution using the latest technologies to allow OLC to achieve its goals. Oxinet used .NET to develop a bespoke system named ‘Campus,’ with a Microsoft SQL Server running alongside the existing OLC website. The existing OLC site ran on a Linux Server, so the implementation of the .NET/SQL Server component which necessarily ran on a Windows Server, needed to integrate with the Linux hosted part of the system.  Despite potential conflict, a risk assessment was undertaken and it was agreed that maximum benefit would still be achieved by implementing a separate part of the site supported by a database, and completely invisible to the end-user. The decision to deliver the new part of the site in .NET and SQL Server also meant that modern development and debugging tools could be used, ensuring a quicker development and greater degree of reliability in the final delivery.

The ‘Campus’ section of the site was created through close collaboration between Oxinet and OLC. OLC tested features in-house as they were developed, providing feedback to Oxinet directly, enabling fast and precise turnaround of amendments.

The Outcome

Both students and tutors are now able to login in to this new section, allowing students to upload their coursework and assignments for marking. After login, the ‘Campus’ system issues an email to the relevant course tutor or pool of tutors advising them that coursework is waiting to be marked.  When a tutor has completed marking, awarding a specific grade or a simple Pass/Fail depending on the course type, the student is then informed automatically by email and can then login to the ‘Campus’ section again to view the mark achieved together with any feedback. A student chat facility, implemented with a JavaScript plugin was also made available to allow students a degree of interaction with their tutors in a distance learning environment.

A tutor payment system was also implemented as part of the .NET development. Invoices are now automatically raised by the system at the end of each month informing the tutors of payments they are due to receive in respect of work they have marked.

Independent Verifiers can also login to the system to audit assessments, ensuring accuracy and consistency across all tutors and subjects.

The new system has increased the speed at which coursework is marked and feedback is delivered, improving the student experience and overall level of satisfaction with the College. Tutors too have also noted improvement as they now receive payments more efficiently.

“The new system has meant that student’s work is marked faster and they are much happier. Also any amendments or new requirements have easily and promptly been implemented.”

Lydia Wallington – Head of Centre, Oxford Learning College

OLC plan to use the new ‘Campus’ system for all future courses and Oxinet continue to support their staff with web development matters via our own dedicated Helpdesk.

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Nicola MusgroveOxford Learning College