What is ALEX? ALEX (http://alex.med.nyu.edu) is a Learning Management system that serves as a central resource for online medical and biomedical education content and computer-based learning activities. Every module, clerkship, and selective in undergraduate medical education and every Sackler course has an ALEX site that supports teaching, learning and collaboration through a series of integrated web-based tools.
ALEX empowers faculty and students to have greater control of their course content and gives them new tools to extend their teaching beyond the borders of the traditional classroom. The system upon which ALEX is based (Sakai: http://www.sakaiproject.org) was developed by a consortium of universities and is specifically designed to support the needs of higher education.
ALEX includes several internal tools to facilitate our learning and teaching:
Learner and Teacher Portfolios: ALEX includes a robust portfolio system, the ePortfolio. Individual learners, teachers, and professionals can create electronic portfolios to represent themselves using web-based software.
Our ePortfolio harnesses the creative work of ‘folio thinking’ thought leaders into a set of powerful tools that inter-operate in the ALEX framework. Individual learners and instructors use the electronic portfolio system as a repository to store and organize digital evidence of teaching and learning. Like a web-based file system, users can upload files, organize them in folders, and then reference them in presentations or compositions they design to share with a particular audience or multiple audiences. For individual students and instructors, the portfolio system provides a convenient and accessible space and the tools to represent individual learning and competencies.
Instructors can use the system to design guided reflective processes which help learners integrate and enhance what they have learned. Further, it provides a rich set of tools to design formative and summative assessments. Administrators use the enterprise electronic portfolio system as a data-driven decision making and reporting tool. Configured and customized to align with institutional goals and objectives, an electronic portfolio system collects real evidence of teaching and learning that can be correlated with and assessed against course, program, department, and institutional objectives.
Announcements Tool: Announcements are used to inform site participants of current items of interest. Announcements can have multiple attachments, including documents and URLs. It is possible to draft and save an announcement before sending it out to site participants or posting it on the site. Announcements appear in a list when you are in the Announcements Tool. They also appear on the home page of each course or project site. Site owners and instructors can choose to have an announcement automatically emailed to all of the site participants by using the "required notification" setting shown below.
Forums: The ALEX Forum Tool allows structured conversations that are organized in categories. Site participants can post replies to a topic (a "flat" discussion) or to other replies (a "threaded" discussion). The site owner can also choose whether or not to allow site participants to post their own discussion topics. You can view Discussion in a row or column layout.
My Workspace: ALEX provides each user with his or her own individual online worksite which functions as a private workspace. Your workspace includes several features, including Resources, Schedule, Worksite Setup, Announcements, News, Web Content, Preferences, Help and Membership.
Comments and Feedback Tool: supports providing feedback and unofficial grades from an Excel spreadsheet saved in CSV format. Some useful features include: multiple files can be uploaded, participants only see the portion of the files that contain their individual feedback, and instructors can see whether participants have viewed their feedback.
Resources Tool: Resources is the most widely used tool in
classes and collaborations. In Resources, you can make many kinds of
material available online. There are three main types: documents (word
processing documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, plain text,
etc.); links to other websites; and documents that are created and
displayed right on the ALEX page. Users can post up to 10 resources at
a time, post items outside of folders, create folders in folders, and
create html documents in ALEX.
Schedule Tool: Schedule allows instructors or worksite organizers to post items in calendar format. The calendar has day, week, month, year, and a flat list view. Any Schedule item can have multiple attachments. All Schedules on worksites you have access to are merged in your My Workspace Schedule. You can print an Adobe PDF file of any view of a Schedule by clicking the "Print PDF" button while in the desired view.
Syllabus Tool: The syllabus is the official outline for your course. As an instructor, if you or your department has prepared an online syllabus already, you can direct the Syllabus Tool to link to it. Otherwise, you can enter material directly in your Syllabus tool. As you create a syllabus, you can designate that it be viewable by the general public or just to members of your course. Some features of a traditional syllabus are divided between the Syllabus and Schedule Tools. Some instructors use the Syllabus area to display the department’s official online syllabus, and use the Schedule as a detailed resource for students. You have the option to format your syllabus content in HTML instead of plain text.
ALEX allows us to integrate several innovative tools for computer-assisted instruction:
iTunesU (http://itunes.med.nyu.edu) is a free, hosted service provided by Apple for universities that provides easy access to educational content, including lectures and video. Through iTunesU, our learners can download and view that content on their Mac or PC, or transfer it to an iPod for listening or viewing on the go. It provides us a mechanism for providing offline multimedia content with minimal technology overhead. It allows us to distribute selective content without constraining our bandwidth.
Compass: Compass (http://compass.med.nyu.edu/) offers a web-based experience which allows students to manage virtual patients and collaborate in virtual teams. It also supports the delivery of online learning modules.