Chamilo 1.8.7: exceeding e-learning users expectations
As we are closing in on the first Alpha release of Chamilo, we can already see the first glance of the large e-learning machine being built here. In only 3 months, we’ll have passed from a first, timid, release of Chamilo 184.108.40.206, to a much more stable and complete 1.8.7.
In order to improve it, we have listened to our users. But not only that… we have extended further the requirements we’ve been given. I’ll try to explain this below…
Five corporate power users reported at the end of last year that they had problems managing several portals on the same server where some portals had a different timezones: we’ve added timezones management to Chamilo, but not *only* timezone at the portal level, but also at user level. This was something missing in our features list in comparison to our more popular LMS competitor.
One of our customers asked us to develop attendance sheets, so we did (a first, very limited, draft of this had been available in the latest versions of Dokeos Pro – a much better implementation will now be included in Chamilo free).
A series of Asiatic countries users reported they had a lot of problems with non-European characters, and so did a series of Eastern Europe countries (one of which is the home of Ivan Tcholakov, who’s undertaken most of the migration work to support UTF-8), so here it is… Chamilo 1.8.7 will support that. Not only that, but it will also allow different courses to exist in different encodings.
Other users reported the sessions weren’t clear and some tools should offer a different view between a session context and a pure-course context… we did that as well. We’ve also extended that and made more tools available through sessions, and made sure the reporting from inside the sessions was improved.
Finally, a lot of people have been asking for clearer statistics, so we implemented a set of nice charts that will let you see, in just one look, what is going on inside your course, your session or for your students. But we wanted to make more than just that, so this feature is extensible. It shows under the “control panel” of any admin or HR Director, and works with little building “blocks”. You can add your own statistics block there. We don’t expect all users to be able to do that, but we hope a lot of people will contact us with their needs and a little bit of financial input, so the next version can be even better.
There are a lot of additional things that we have or will add in 1.8.7, and none of them results from a unilateral decision. We have discussed every feature first with the users or the customers, then we have analyzed the need in a group of minimum 3 developers each time, then we have returned to the user and asked for feedback on the idea. Finally, a new feature was undertaken. This is how we work in Chamilo!