Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fantasy Four Solution, Ltd. Educational Portal System ConOps

National University

Master of Science in Software Engineering

Professor Jeffrey Appel, Ph.D.

Operational Concept Document (OCD)


Educational Portal System

July 20, 2008

Project Sponsor:

San Diego High School

Prepared By:

Fantasy Four Solution, Ltd.

Wang De Er

Aloundeth Oupraxay

Murali Krishna Gutha

Sandeep Manne Bhemlinghapa

Revision Change Records

Revision No.


Change Description

Change By



July 14 2008


Wang De Er

Project Stakeholders


July 16 2008

Initial Release – Draft I

Wang De Er



July 19 2008

Revised Draft I






July 19 2008

Revised Draft II




July 19 2008

Revised Draft III




July 20 2008

Final OCD


Table of Contents

1. Introduction 4

1.1 Purpose 4

1.2 Glossary 6

1.2.1 Definitions 6

1.2.2 Acronyms and Abbreviation 7

1.3 References 9

1.4 Overview 10

2. Product Definition 11

2.1 Problem Statement 12

2.2 User Characteristics 14

2.2.1 School Administrator 14

2.2.2 Teacher 15

2.2.3 Parent/Student 15

2.3 Solution Strategy 15

2.3.1 Operational Policies and Constraints 16

2.3.2 Description of the Proposed System 17

2.4 Processes to be provided 20

2.5 Processing Environment 21

2.5.1 Hardware 21 Client 21 Server 22

2.5.2 Software 22 Client 22 Server 23

2.5.3 Work Place 23

2.6 Product Features 23

2.6.1 Prototype Version 23

2.6.2 Full-Featured Version 23

2.6.3 Enhanced Version 24

2.7 Acceptance Criteria 25

2.8 Analysis of Proposed Solutions 25

2.8.1 Summary of Improvements 25

2.8.2 Disadvantage and Limitations 26

Table of Figures

Figure 1: Project Design Tiers 18

1. Introduction

This Operational Concept Document (OCD) defines the initial Concept of Operation (CONOPS) for the Educational Portal System (EPS) that will be developed by Fantasy Four Solution (FFS), Ltd., and sponsored by San Diego High School. The objective of FFS is to develop a web-based/database-driven system accessible to teachers, principal, administrators, parents, and students via the Internet, allowing teachers to maintain a better class management, improve teacher/parents communication, and provide after school hours support to students. This document shall define the operability and functionality of this new web-based/database-driven system.

1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this OCD is to provide a high-level statement of the problem referred to the Educational Portal System. The OCD will review alternative solutions strategies, select the most effective strategy, and define the major processes that the solution approach will provide. This document also will define the operability and functionality of the new web-based/database-driven system.

This is the foundation document that will serve two major purposes. It will be reviewed by San Diego High School’s principal, teachers, administrators and the client to confirm the project team’s initial understanding of the problem. It will also provide the fundamental concepts and solution strategy that will guide the entire development lifecycle of the EPS project.

The reader of the OCD should be provided with a general but clear text of the problem and the problem environment, the solution strategy that will be used, and concise statements of the major processes that will be develop.

1.2 Glossary

1.2.1 Definitions

Database-Driven: consist of a "back-end" database with web pages that contain "script" programming language capable of pulling specific information from the database depending on what the user wants to know.

Functionality: The capabilities of the various computational, user-interfaces, input, output, data management, and other features provided by a product.

Human-Computer Interface: The study of interaction between people (users) and computers. A basic goal of HCI is to improve the interaction between users and computers by making computers more usable and receptive to the user's needs.

Graphical User Interface: A type of user interface which allows people to interact with a computer and computer-controlled devices which employ graphical icons, visual indicators or special graphical elements called "widgets", along with text labels or text navigation to represent the information and actions available to a user.

Operational Concept Document: A user-oriented document that describes a system’s operational characteristics from the end user’s viewpoint.

Prototype: A small program with limited features of a larger program

Use Case: An interaction between an actor and the system

Web-based System: A system that is accessible via the web over network

Web interface: A web page with a graphical user interface

Web Services: Program that exposes some functions to others systems for inteoperability

1.2.2 Acronyms and Abbreviation

Acronyms and Abbreviations List


Concept of Operation


Data Base


Data Base Manager/Management


Data Base Management System


Educational Portal System


Fantasy Four Solution


Free Open Source Software


Graphical User Interface


Human-Computer Interface




Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers


Internet Service Provider


Operational Concept Document


Operating System


Personal Computer


Program Manager


Quality Assurance


Quality Manager


Relational Data Base Management System


Requirements Engineer/Engineering


Software Design Document


Software User’s Manual


Structured Query Language


Software Development Plan


San Diego Unified School District


Software Project Management Plan


Software Design Document-Top Level


Synergy Software Group, Ltd.


Software Test Plan


Software Design Document-Lower Level




Software Engineer


Test Manager


Web Manager

1.3 References

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. (1998). IEEE Guide for Information Technology - System Definition – Concept of Operations (ConOps) Document (IEEE Std 1362-1998).

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. (1990). IEEE Standard Glossary of Software Engineering Terminology (IEEE Std 610.12-1990).

Pressman, Roger S. (2005). Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach (6th Ed.). McGraw Hill.

San Diego High School. (2008) Interview the school’s principal and other stakeholders to collect initial needs and requirements.

1.4 Overview

This OCD is intended to deliver a better understanding of the users’ need to the development team and also describe how the project will answer those needs. The OCD is composed of the following sections:

  • Section 1 provides the introduction of the project and an overview of the document

  • Section 1.1 provides the purpose of this OCD.

  • Section 1.2 provides the Glossary of this OCD. It contains some definitions, acronyms and abbreviations.

  • Section 1.3 provides the References of this OCD.

  • Section 1.4 provides the overview of this OCD.

  • Section 2 defines the current software and lists all the documents that were used in support of this project.

  • Section 2.1 provides a definitive statement of the problem to be solved by this product.

  • Section 2.2 identifies the general characteristics of the eventual end-users.

  • Section 2.3 identifies the solution strategies for the system.

  • Section 2.4 details the external processes provided by the product.

  • Section 2.5 identifies hardware, software, and workplace requirements and constraints.

  • Section 2.6 details the product features that will be available in Build 1 (Prototype), Build 2 (Modest) and Build 3 (Enhanced).

  • Section 2.7 establishes high-level criteria to pass the test phase and delivery requirements.

  • Section 2.8 provides an analysis of the application and proposed solutions.

2. Product Definition

This is the Operational Concept Document which defines the initial Concept of Operation (ConOps) for the Educational Portal System (EPS) that will be developed by Fantasy Four Solutions (FFS), Ltd. The EPS is sponsored by San Diego High School. The main purpose of FFS is to develop a web-based portal /database-driven system accessible to teachers, administrators, parents, and students via the Internet, to assist teachers to maintain a better class management, to improve the communication among teacher, parents and student, and to provide support to students after school hours. This document defines the operability and functionality of the new web-based system.

The Educational Portal System is required to be accessible to teachers, administrators, parents, and students from their offices, homes, and the classroom via the Internet; providing parents and students with an extra tool to improve their involvement in class learning experience. Students will be able to employ this customized tool to improve their study, and teacher will reduce time normally spend in administrative work and focus more on tutoring. This system will utilize standard database technology to store classroom materials and student information, and will provide a robust Human-Computer Interface (HCI) based on current industry standards.

This system will also offer the users with the following capabilities:

  • User friendly (GUI)

  • Highly reliable and robust

  • Strong security features

  • Multi Functions

    • Supports all aspects of student/administrator management

    • Maintains student records

    • Schedules students, faculty, events or activities

    • Interfaces to other school systems

    • Uses a web-based architecture

    • New features can be easily added/removed

2.1 Problem Statement

San Diego High School is one of the oldest of thirty-one high schools in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). The school’s principal is seeking a web-based software solution to manage school’s online learning curriculum, but most importantly to automate teachers and classroom activities and make it accessible to all stakeholders (principal, teacher, student, parents, etc).

A typical classroom environment consists of a teacher and about thirty students per class. Each classroom has a minimum of two terminal computers connected to the school local network that provides access to the Internet, internal email and share drivers. Teachers use manual methods to manage their classrooms’ activities such as creating their own templates every school year, storing student information in an address book, other class materials and student information are stored in spreadsheet or word documents, or use calendar from application such as MS Outlook to manage their classroom schedules. The problem is that teachers do not have the technology to organize or store valuable documents in any database. Although the current system is good, there are too many risk factors associated with the use of manual system, such as:

  • Lost or misplace of important documentation

  • Almost impossible to know if parents are aware of student progress or classroom activities

  • No documentation back-up

  • Poor and no reliable technical support

  • For the most part, teachers rely on their own memory to track activities, documentation, and information

  • Use of old technology (at least ten years old apple computers) to store data

  • Lack of security features

The current manual system reduces performance in classrooms in the following areas:

  • Fails to meet communication requirements between teachers and parents

  • Limits students’ use of technology to enhance their education experience

  • Fails to leverage available technology in regards to connectivity between teachers and parents

  • Fails to leverage the advanced of paperless review and editing technologies, requiring increased paperwork management

  • Limits after-hours assistance of and contact between teachers and students

  • Fails to provide an effective means for teachers to store historical data, or previous curriculum that could later be used to minimize replication of efforts

  • Lacks of curriculum consistency and professional development

Teachers at San Diego High School have a need of a web-based software tool to improve classroom management and support learning curriculum. FFS’s objective is to develop a teacher’s multi-use tool to automate their daily work activities.

2.2 User Characteristics

The users of the Educational Portal System will mostly be San Diego High school teachers, but will also include parents and students. The user is only expected to have the basic knowledge of a web-based operation on their operating system. The Educational Portal System will be designed to assist teachers, parents and students. EPS may require the teachers to understand some principles of website remote access and authentication. On a production level, the system administrators will be required to manage all users’ role and their respected permissions. However, the administrators will be provided pre-built packaged components that will alleviate system setup time.

There will be three main users of the Educational Portal System as described below. Each user will utilize a User Login control, which will be managed in the security module embedded within the middle-tier of the application. Based on user’s role and permission, each user will have access to particular areas and functions in the program.

2.2.1 School Administrator

School administrators are the principal and other school staff. They will have similar capabilities as teachers’. However, school administrators will have view-only access to student’s grade and class curriculum data.

2.2.2 Teacher

Users in teacher’s mode will have overall access and functional capabilities within teacher assistant software, excluding system administrator privileges. This mode will allow the user to support all aspects of student administration, to maintain student records, to schedule students, faculty, events and activities, and to interface to other school systems.

2.2.3 Parent/Student

They will be able to view read-only postings submitted by teachers concerning the individual student(s) as well as subject/class activities. General users will have access to reference materials via web links for class assignments and projects.

2.3 Solution Strategy

Fantasy Four Solution, Ltd (FFS) will develop an Educational Portal System (EPS) in response to the needs of San Diego High School Online Learning Curriculum. The EPS’s goal is to facilitate online teaching, communicating and collaborating between student, parent, teacher and principal in the most effective and user-friendly environment.

FFS will develop a web-based portal system that will allow for easy access and simple navigational menu system through all functions of EPS. A centralized database system will provide the capability for storing and updating all teacher, parent and student information as it pertains to the application. Three strategies were considered as the possible solutions for implementing EPS:

  • Build the system entirely from scratch: This strategy involves a complete build of system from the ground up. The main advantage of this approach is that all customer requirements can be met precisely and the resulting code would be very efficient. Unfortunately, this strategy is time consuming and very hard to develop. Therefore, it has been determined that this is not a feasible method.

  • Purchase the system commercial off-the-shelf (COTS): This approach provides an easiest and quickest solution for the application. But due to its lack of customization capability, unique features of the requirements cannot be met and implemented. This is also not a feasible method.

  • Build the system based on free open source software (FOSS): By utilizing open source technologies, not only components and system can be customized according to the requirements, but also they can be assembled rather easily and quickly. This is the most feasible strategy for the solution because it can both meet customer requirements and satisfy time and cost constraints of the development.

2.3.1 Operational Policies and Constraints

The Educational Portal System (EPS) will provide the following features and functionalities:

  • Student/Teacher/Administrator Mode

  • Security and Login

  • Lesson/Study Guides

  • Subject/Class Assignments

  • Supports all aspects of student/teacher administration

  • Maintains student grades and records

  • Schedules of students, faculty, and other related events or activities

  • Interfaces to other school systems

  • Features may be easily added or removed

  • Uses a web-based portal architecture

2.3.2 Description of the Proposed System

After carefully studied and investigated all possible development options, FFS has decided to implement EPS based on free open source software (FOSS) technology. This solution provides a wide variety of high quality components and tools to choose from in order to implement EPS in the most economical and efficient manner. FOSS components not specifically met requirements will be developed manually. Additionally, this solution supports the latest and the most innovative web-based portal technology and platform to facilitate development and implementation of the multi-tiered web-based application.

Any FOSS products or components that meet the customer’s requirements will be integrated into a well defined and easy-to-use EPS interface through customized hand-written code or service connector that will be developed specifically for this system. Utilization of an object-oriented programming language such as Java will be used for rapid development and refinement of the product throughout its life cycle.

Figure 1: Project Design Tiers

As a solution strategy to address EPS issues, FFS proposes the use of multi-tier architecture approach, as Figure 1 demonstrates.

Presentation Tier

The presentation layer will contain all the visual aspects of the system. This tier will handle the entire user’s interaction with the system. All popup dialogs, message boxes, forms, reports, and other user interaction components would reside in the presentation tier of the system.

Business Logic

The business model layer represents the state of encapsulated data and how it should be formatted for the user interface. It also validates the data coming from the user interface before posting the data to the database.

Service Controller

This service controller layer will manage all the available service interfaces required in order for the system to interact and communicate between different components and modules. Not only this will improve overall system modularity, but also it will enhance the flexibility and portability of the system.

Database Management

The data tier contains the database system that is responsible for handling the transactions and other operations such as add, update, delete, and query the data in the tables. The rules in the database should be restricted to only those rules that are a direct implementation of the domain constraints. The database stores the relevant information needed about teacher subject/class data, schedules, contact information, study guides and other system information.


A web-based solution allows for more flexibility and better cross-platform support. Modern computers and hand-held devices such as iPhone and Blackberries have web browser capabilities, which eliminate the need to install fat client applications on the user’s device. With EPS, training will be limited to the functions of the application since most users are already familiar with the use of web browser user interface. Some effort will be needed to develop an interface that contains the proper functionality needed to support user requirements.

Depending on the number of users, EPS can scale well for supporting high demand. It also has the flexibility to run the application from any location wherever there exist of Internet and a web browser. While this could technically be a limitation, the decision was made that it would be worth the risk.

A web-based solution alleviates the need to distribute patches and software upgrades. EPS is managed in a centralized server and therefore mitigates the need for distributing software updates.

2.4 Processes to be provided

The following processes will be provided:

  • Web user-friendly: allows for easy access and navigation through all functions of EPS.

  • Database: provides storage for classroom materials, teacher, parent, and student information.

  • System Administration: supports all aspects of system administration.

    • Maintaining user’s role and permission

    • Managing user account

  • Student Administration: supports all aspects of student administration.

    • Maintaining student records, progress reports, grades and assignments

    • Scheduling students, faculty, events and activities

    • Scheduling after school hours support to students

  • Report Generator: provides tools to generate reports on grades, schedules, assignments and announcements

  • Communication: allows system access to teachers, parents, and students from their homes, offices, and the classroom via the Internet. Interfaces to other school systems are also provided.

  • Teaching Resources: provides means for teachers to manage teaching resources.

    • Creating teaching materials and curriculum

    • Storing references, historical data, or previous curriculum for minimizing replication of efforts

    • Providing curriculum consistency and professional development

2.5 Processing Environment

Sections 2.5.1 through 2.5.2 detail the hardware and software requirements required to operate and develop the Educational Portal System.

2.5.1 Hardware Client

  • Any device or personal computers capable of supporting a web browser

  • Internet connection 33K or higher

  • Mouse or compatible pointing device and keyboard

  • Higher resolution monitor (SVGA recommended)

  • 512 MB of RAM for operating system Server

  • Windows 2003 server or Linux.

  • Internet connection 128 Kbps or higher

  • Operating System (OS) availability of 99.9% or higher

  • Mouse or compatible pointing device and keyboard

  • CD/DVD-ROM Drive – required for software installation

  • Monitor - VGA or higher resolution monitor (SVGA recommended)

  • 1 GB of RAM for the operating system

2.5.2 Software Client

Users of Educational Portal System require a web browser installed such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Opera. Browsers supported include, but not limited to:

  • Windows XP/VISTA

    • Mozilla Firefox 2.0+

    • MS Internet Explorer 6.0+

    • Opera

  • Linux

    • Mozilla Firefox 2.0+

    • Opera

  • Mac

    • Safari

    • Mozilla Firefox 2.0+ Server

Educational Portal System will have the ability to operate on a single system running a generic web server and basic database. The server will need to support web application and database services with respect to the requirement needs.

2.5.3 Work Place

Work place can be anywhere where a web browser and Internet are present.

2.6 Product Features

2.6.1 Prototype Version

In order to demonstrate the validity of the Educational Portal System, a prototype will be developed. The concept prototype will be a basic user-friendly web GUI front end and a database back end with limited functionality. The framework for the application will be developed and integrated on a step by step basis. The look and feel will be established as well as some basic schemes.

2.6.2 Full-Featured Version

The full capability version of the Educational Portal System will be the first delivery of the system and will implement:

  • Common web-base interface with basic functionality for

    • System administrator

    • Teacher

    • Principal or Dean

    • Student

  • Basic security features to disable some features for some users. Profile for every type of users (student, teacher and system administrator)

  • Different navigational menu tabs for different users with respect to their enabled features.

  • Teachers should be allowed to add or modify the syllabus for a particular class

  • Students must be able to access the course syllabus and be able to print.

2.6.3 Enhanced Version

The enhanced version will develop functionality that will enable teachers a much richer experience and the ability to track course work and student information within the application framework. Functions to be considered for this version include:

  • Customization of different tabs for personal comfort

  • Can have a Login inside the students profile to open and access parent’s mode which help parents to look first at their children’s grades, login inside the student’s profile and write comments to the teacher and/or principal.

  • Same with the principle and teacher when teacher looks at the student’s grade, he/she can add comments in the parent’s tab to get the message to parent which cannot be seen by the student.

2.7 Acceptance Criteria

The subsequent criteria must be met before the Educational Portal System will be delivered:

  • Web-based GUI must provide the functionality discussed, providing the user with the basic functionality to create, modify, post and print student’s grades and course syllabus.

  • The web application will operate in the client’s web browser environment and provide a limited level of the functionality contained within the GUI application.

  • The web services must allow illicit access to the database. In addition, web services must provide key functions for interoperability.

The database must allow the web application to modify the data contents.

2.8 Analysis of Proposed Solutions

2.8.1 Summary of Improvements

The Educational Portal System is intended to provide a standardized tool for the benefit of teachers, school administrators and parents alike. It will simplify the process of developing and posting important information from teachers to administrators, teachers to students and teachers to parents. It will also allow administrators a greater purview of the curriculum being taught at their school(s), which will afford them better ability to answer questions from parents and students. This will also ensure the accuracy and timeliness of information communicated between teachers and parents. The Educational Portal System will allow multiple users to access the information stored on the database concurrently. An unplanned benefit of this system is that teachers using similar curriculum items or models will be able to share documentation and references to reduce their overall workload and afford them more time to spend actually teaching their students.

2.8.2 Disadvantage and Limitations

  • Limitations of this system will be minimal as there is no current working system or software in place to-date. To maintain synchronized accuracy of information, the EPS will only allow the information stored on the database to be modified by one user at a time.

  • Additional users wishing to access a file that is being modified will be able to view the material in a Read-Only format until the modifications are completed and stored to the database.

  • The limitations that arise with any standardized product will likely present themselves. If teachers within the school or district employing this system wish to use another system, they will be limited to the policies set forth by the administration of the school or district they are working for. The product is being developed with a cross-platform nature as to allow use with all systems currently employed within San Diego High School.

  • It could be perceived as a limitation that the school may be limited in future system upgrades to systems that are compatible with the web-based portal software system. The product is designed to be immediately usable by customers with a limited background in computer systems and no experience in database management.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

National University

Hi everybody!

I will be doing my Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) at National University [] in San Diego starting Sept, 2008.

Currently I'm taking SEN620, "Principle of Software Engineering", as part of my elective course. The final is scheduled on Sat. Aug 2, 2008.

This blog will contain all of my thesis/research papers. So feel free to add any comments or feedback.

Thank you for your visit!
Have a wonderful day!

Mr. Al,