Purlieu- The Nuts and Bolts

The system called Purlieu came together by combining three different systems. Steve Clay, a programmer and developer for the College of Education's distance education office talked about bringing the pieces together.

Moodle - Learning Management System

"Moodle is a learning management system that has been designed by a large group of open source developers over several years." Steve said. "It's a very stable product used by lots of colleges. It is basically designed with the goal of giving online courses." Moodle is the formal online classroom portion of Purlieu. The College of Education has been using the system for several years, and was able to build this into the new system.

"It's open source which means that all of the code that goes into Moodle is available for use in other projects and can be extended by developers," Steve said. "This allows us to use Moodle in Purlieu and make our own modifications as necessary to suit our needs as much as we want. We can make Moodle better and then give that code back to the community so that other users can take advantage of the changes we've made."

Elgg - Social Networking Tools

"Elgg is a social networking framework. It is designed to allow users to communicate in a variety of ways," Steve said. "They can instantly chat in the system, through messaging, through forums, and users can host message boards on their own profile so that you they can have discussions just related to them personally, or they can host discussions in groups."

The creation of the small groups is a crucial function for the distance education office. This will allow the users of their site to further define the boundaries of their own learning. It will also allow users to invite their peers to join in on discussions about class, the syllabus, or other issues.

Wordpress - Content Management

"Wordpress was initially just designed for blogging. It's become a system that's also very useful for content management," Steve said. "We're using Wordpress to manage all of our user support pages and for news events pages that are pertinent to our site."

"The systems individually are not designed to work together directly," Steve said. "What has been nice about the flexibility of each one is that we've been able to develop a site that integrates the best elements of all three in a way that we want to use them."

Steve Clay

"With Purlieu, distance students and teachers will be able to introduce themselves so that they can actually feel like they know the people they'll be working with. This will allow users on the site to feel more a part of the community because they can actually introduce themselves in person as if they were standing in the same room." - Steve Clay, Developer, College of Education
Purlieu uses a combination of three different open source systems. Below are links to each of the development communities.