High level overview
GCompris contains a lot of activities for children in a large age range. It is used at home and at schools.
Home users can easily follow their children and propose them the most appropriate activities. But using it in classrooms brings a new set of requirements:
- let the teacher hide inappropriate activities
- activity filter
- creating profiles to easily propose an activity set to a new audience
- activity pre-configurations (like uppercase only)
- let the teacher track children usage
- must be as real time as possible to let the teacher help the children asap
- no real need for long term persistence, teachers probably won't dig in old data to extract relevant informations.
In the legacy version the administration mode is accessible with a second icon launcher. In fact it just runs the same 'gcompris' binary but with the '-a' option.
The idea is to let an administrator configure as much or as little as he wants. For instance, the profiles can be used even if no classes, groups and users are created.
- Classes / Users
- Create users
- Create classes and associate users
- Create groups within a class
- Associate users to the group
- create profiles
- associate one or more class / group to a profile
- enable / disable activities for a given profile
- one by one
- by a level filter
- configure activities for a given profile
- enable / disable activities for a given profile
- All success / failure in activities are saved in a log
- A report contains the date, user, activity, level, sublevel, duration. An optional description of the difficulty encountered was planned but never implemented.
- If users have been created, they can be authenticated when GCompris is started in the normal mode (login pseudo activity). There are 2 modes, one where the children click on the button with his name, one where he must type his name. There is no password.
Most important features in order of importance:
- tracking real time usage
Well, as a teacher I think that would be better if GCompris administrator has another organization. So, instead of "classes/users", "groups" and "profiles", I would like to suggest that we have "users" (where we could enter the students data), "groups" (where we could group the users), "profiles" (to create profiles associated with groups) and "board selection" (where we would populate the profiles). This would give more freedom for the teachers to organize their student groups (because they could make groups from more than one class). And, in some educational experiences, the "class" concept doesn't exist at all, so it makes more sense that we have only users (and the classes/users window is a little confuse to understand without explanation).
I really like the the reports, but the "win/lost" status ever bothered me. I don't think it's applicable to many boards. Maybe we could change it to "complete/incomplete", "finished/unfinished" or "successful/unsuccessful". But I'm not certain about it.
And I think that we need to rewrite the help to make it more clear.
In the old version the sharing of the configuration was done through a shared 'sqlite' database. This is not a good usage for it, it requires an admin to set it up on a shared folder. Does not suit well the mobile use case. Where do we save the configuration: gcompris.net, a teacher server, ?
The advantage of sqlite database is that it doesn't require any infrastructure to be maintained. Just copy and share it, which gives great flexibility to the teachers. But I agree that a MySQL database (for example), on a local (or remote) server, would offer better results. A gcompris.net centralized server is a very interesting idea, but, in this case, we would have the requirement of an active Internet connection, which isn't a reality in many schools.
It would be possible a "hibrid" model, where teachers could choose the better solution? This would be amazing!
Data sharing scope: Storing profile/user data centrally (gcompris.net) would probably mean that we'd need to maintain user data for different working groups (i.e. maybe check access permissions) and need to make sure the service is highly available etc.
Data access: We could also decouple the data access (from clients) from the data store by e.g. letting the admin-node/application expose a platform neutral API (with methods like "getProfile", "setUser", "storeResults", ...) over a protocol supported on all platforms like a JSON-RPC based (web)service running on top of a plain TCP socket or Websocket protocol (available since Qt 5.3). A client for such an access protocol can be implemented on any platform (using qt). The data store could then be set up and maintainted by the admin node running the access service and does need to be shared, e.g. sqlite and would not require any additional admin tasks except starting the admin application (cf. below) which in turn manages the data store transparently to the admin user.
If we think about a shared RDBM like mysql we must make sure that all clients/platforms support the access-protocol. By now I am not sure whether all QSqlDrivers are available on Android platforms.
How do we do this, what technology (Qt, Web, ...), how is it linked to the users, ...
Again, web interface is a great idea, but it would demand some skills to configure a web servers that may complicate the situation on schools.
Availability: According to the above idea to use an admin-application exposing an API for data access, this central service would be available once the admin-application is up-and-running.
Using a shared DB on the other hand would require the additional step to set it up.
Discovery/Registering: A client that wants to use the admin service (e.g. for getting profile data) needs access information like IP/port information probably to be entered by the client user PLUS a username for client/pupil identification on the admin side.
Admin application: The scetched admin application could be responsible for both: a. editing/updating profile/user/... data by an admin user using a QML-based admin GUI and b. exposing access methods (cf. above) to this data via an API.
This application could be a separate one. It could also be baked into the existing GCompris application as was done in the gtk+ version.
This application could also be available on all platforms, thus allowing a teacher to setup up a class environment on his tablet.