The FETLAR project uses a raft of open source tools to deliver its content, written by many different institutions and as part of many different previous projects (e.g. MathAssess, QTITools).
There is, however, a difference between FETLAR and these past projects. Such projects had a focus that was driven by the technology.
The end result was not about delivering any content, but producing a suite of tools that served as a proof of concept to demonstrate QTI 2.1's capability to deliver electronic assessment.
The target audience was learning technologists, and others of a technical bent with an interest in electronic assessment.
In contrast, FETLAR's priority is about delivering e-learning content. While the tools from the past projects are being used and in some cases, developed further as part of FETLAR, the focus is very different and so is the target audience.
Learning technologists are still relevant, but it is the provision of content that is driving the FETLAR project. As such, the is another target audience for FETLAR that did not directly apply in past projects of a more technical nature.
These are the academics, tutors and teaching professionals seeking to utilise the content produced by FETLAR for their own pedagogic purposes.
While the QTI authoring tools (e.g. Spectatus and Mathqurate) can be installed on any end-user's computer, the other tools for delivering QTI questions and assessments are web applications, which require significant technical knowledge to set up and configure, and administrative access to a server capable to hosting such applications.
Consequently, FETLAR needed a way by which the technical tools can be provided and used to deliver content with a minimum of configuration, while assuming the minimum possible technical knowledge. Enter the FETLAR Virtual Appliance.
The FETLAR Virtual Appliance uses virtualisation to distribute all the required tools, software and other infrastructure, along with (if required) the FETLAR content itself.
FETLAR Virtual Appliance does not requires much configuration and can be run using software that is freely available. Essentially it represents one portable, distributable "black box" of all FETLAR project outputs - both software and e-learning content.
Here are some key features of "FETLAR Virtual Appliance":
The Virtual Appliance includes, among other things, the following tools (All of these tools are pre-configured and can be used immediately):
· The FETLAR searchable content repository
· VMWare Player