Open Source Online Course Tools

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    With the current state of growth of the internet, more and more school work is being conducted online, and online course tools are becoming more and more popular. There are currently many such commercial packages. Some cost a lot, and some require dedicated or specific hardware.

    e-Tutor is a suite of open source online course tools. The individual pieces are very simple to configure and use. They do not require any special hardware. Current releases run under Linux and come in two flavours. The first is a simple single-course Perl course submission tool. The second is a PHP/MySQL version that is intended for site-wide installation. It can handle multiple instructors and multiple courses, and is geared towards expandability.

    Also in the works are tools for more effective online communication and problem solving, for both in and out of the classroom.

Project Goals

    e-Tutor tools differ from their commercial cousins in several ways.

    First, although online course tools are server driven, many use excessive amounts of local processing via Javascript. e-Tutor's administrative interface uses minimal JavaScript, and the user front end does not contain any scripting. This allows for better browser compatibility and less possibility of errors.

    Second, the e-Tutor tools share a common trait of extremely simple interfaces. This interface design is very quick to load, meaning it will work decently even over the slowest of connections. This is definitely an important factor regarding distance education. The fewer clicks, the better.


    We are pleased to acknowledge the support of a Teaching and Learning Grant from the University of Ottawa, which enabled us to develop the prototypes of the ET-PRL and ET-PHP tools. The School of Management has also contributed funds, space, and bandwidth for an experimental server.

    The help and generosity of W. Suwalski is also much appreciated.

Obtaining the Software

e-Tutor is hosted on
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e-Tutor ©2002-2004 J. Nash, P. Suwalski, M. Svilans.