free software system developed at the University
has beaten its commercial competitors to become
the University of Oxfords new virtual
learning environment (VLE).
Bodington system used to support teaching
by every department at Leeds is open
source, so it can be downloaded for free with
its original source code, and developers can
adapt it and add to it as they wish. Improvements
can be fed back to the original development
team, so everyone can benefit.
to learning the entrance to 'Bodington
Common', Leeds' VLE based on the open source
Bodington system developed at the University
is justifiably proud of the way it teaches
its students, said professor of online
learning Andrew Booth. They didnt
want to have to change that to fit a software
programme. One of Bodingtons advantages
is that it doesnt tie you down to one
way of teaching.
looking forward to participating in Bodingtons
development, said Dr Stuart Lee, head
of learning technologies at Oxford Universitys
computing services. We found the other
systems very rigid and hierarchical, often
using US terminology and structures, and imposing
overly restrictive roles to tutor and student.
Bodington is flexible enough to deal with
our way of doing things and we were
keen to support an open source project.
began life as a web-based discussion forum,
created by Jon Maber, then working as a computer
officer in biological sciences. He joined
the Universitys flexible learning development
unit to develop the system. As more features
were added, the metaphor of a building was
introduced, with floors and rooms for user-friendly
navigation. In keeping with tradition, this
virtual building was named after an illustrious
figure from the Universitys history:
its first Vice-Chancellor, Sir Nathan Bodington.
departments at Leeds now use Bodington Common
our own VLE based on the Bodington
system, said Jon Maber. Some run
complete distance-learning degrees, others
individual modules, and how they structure
their teaching and which features they use
is totally up to the tutor. Bodington is also
very accessible and compatible with many adaptive
software programmes for disabled computer
users. It can also cope with all modern language
character sets, and many ancient ones as well.
systems wide range of features include
multi-choice papers, completed online with
marks and analysis sent direct to the tutor;
discussion rooms where students and tutors
can post contributions; questionnaires or
short papers filled in online with written
answers; and tutors pigeonholes
where students can upload their completed
work. Neither tutors nor students need any
technical knowledge to use the system.
University of Manchester has already chosen
to adopt the system and over 50 institutions
around the world have downloaded the software.