Open Key Player

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What is the "Open Key Player"

Figure 1. OKP playing "Lichens" key
Figure 2. OKP displaying identification result

The "Open Key Player" is an Adobe Flex-based application used to play identification keys in Open Key Format. This format is specific for the keys edited with the Open Key Editor, a tool created in the KeyToNature project. The Open Key Player uses php scripts to communicate with the Open Key Database (a database which contains several identification keys created with Open Key Editor) and it can be integrated into eLearning environments like ILIAS or MOODLE in order to perform complex user tracking. The latest version of Open Key Player supports the play of specific multimedia files (e.g. sound files found in the key) associated with the identified species.

How does it work and the user interface

After setting up the credentials necessary to connect to the database in the functions.php file, the Open Key Player (OKP) needs only two variables supplied via URL to start up:

  • db - the name of the database that contains the key
  • key - the ID of the key from the database

For example: call the software tool with:
http://path_to_OKP_webfolder/openKeyPlayer.swf?db=name_of_database&key=ID_of_key

After loading, the OKP displays information about the key played. The identification process starts when the user clicks the "Start Key" button.


The user interface in Open Key Player:

  • the left panel contains: a) a reset button to reset the identification process, b) information about the remaining species in the key and c) a "history" display list where the user can see all the previously selected identification steps. By clicking on any of these, the user can revert to the selected point in the identification process.
  • the right panel displays the currently available choices in the identification process. The text for the choices may be accompanied by an image and if the choice leads to a species, the species name will be displayed.

Usage scenario

The followig scenario will demonstrate the usage of OKP running a Key to English Common Lichens.
Step 1. Access the application here
You will encounter a screen containing information about the key that is currenly being played.

Figure 3. Welcome screen of OKP displaying information about the key

Step 2. Click the “Start Key” button to start identification.
You can now start identification by clicking either the Text or the Image (if available) of the Features presented in the right panel. In the Left panel you get information about the number of remaining species and the hystory of the selected features. Currently “none” is displayed as you have yet taken any identification steps.

Figure 4. OKP Displaying first set of identification steps

Step 3. Select the feature at the bottom “Thallus crusty, powdery or of small overlapping scales”.
Step 4. Select the feature at the top “Thallus soft and powdery, consisting of soredia-type granules”.
You have now reached an identification result

Figure 5. OKP displaying identification result

"Open Key Player" embedded into an eLearning environment

The Open Key Player can be integrated in eLearning environments like MOODLE or ILIAS, in order to perform advanced user tracking. Each user interaction with the application (starting key, taking identification steps, reaching identification result) is reported to the eLearning environment and stored for analysis. This data is very useful for key developers as it can help to produce better quality keys. OKP embedded in ILIAS eLearning environment has been successfully tested in 2 Romanian high schools.
Read here about the testing scenario applied in Romanian schools.

Examples of keys played by "Open Key Player"

Currently available are the following identification keys: