Our LMS by gabyion

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									To: Bill Randall, Vice-President, North Carolina Community College System Office

From: Amy Brown, Director, eLearning, Guilford Technical Community College

Re: Moodle


Bill,

Per your request, I am sending you information about GTCC’s journey from Blackboard
to Moodle. The following document consists of reasons, timeline, pros and cons and
feedback gathered during this process.

GTCC began exploring its LMS options in the summer 2007 in response to a RFP from
the system office offering free Moodle training and server space. At that time, we also
became a part of the TLT collaborative to take advantage of free Sakai training and
access.

Personally, I entered into this process with doubt that GTCC could make this jump from
one LMS to another. GTCC has spent over 10 years on Blackboard and our faculty
seemed happy with that product. We were doing great things as part of the NCLC
Blackboard consortium working with Craven, South Piedmont and Cleveland
Community Colleges.

During the 2006-2007, our school began experiencing major problems with Blackboard.
Upgrades were failing. Content was lost. Our system was so slow that it often came
crashing down weekly. Blackboard sent us a second invoice for over usage with little to
no customer service to help us solve our problems. Faculty and students were frustrated.

Our journey consists of the following steps. This is an overview, more detailed in the
document that follows.

       eLearning explores a variety of systems over summer 2007 for fall pilot including
        Moodle, Sakai, Angel and Desire 2 Learn.
       eLearning suggests Moodle for fall pilot based on faculty feedback from training,
        presence of stable tools that are used heavily in Blackboard and flexibility with
        other systems.
       During fall 2007 pilot, faculty and students share their feedback on the system.
        ALL faculty members including adjuncts received access to the system to provide
        feedback. Our online degree students took classes in both Blackboard and Moodle
        to give us feedback on the differences of the two systems. Disability services
        reviewed the LMS for ADA compliance. MIS provides feedback on the
        functionality of Moodle with other systems.
       eLearning presents research and feedback to Academic Leadership Team
        consisting of curriculum Division Chairs and Vice President of Instruction for


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       final decision. The decision was made to renew Blackboard for one year while
       purchasing Moodle server to give us time to migrate our content.
      eLearning begins massive, on-going re-training program of faculty and staff on
       Moodle. By the end of spring 2008, almost 300 people at GTCC are Moodle
       proficient.
      During summer 2008, eLearning facilitates the migration of content from
       Blackboard to Moodle. A team of faculty members are trained by Remote
       Learner and hired to move content. By the end of the summer, over 300 courses
       are moved from Blackboard to Moodle.
      GTCC is using Moodle for 100% of its courses by spring 2009.
      On May 13, 2009, GTCC will have Blackboard erase all of its content off the
       Blackboard server for it to be resized and upgraded for the consortium.

Overall, we consider the move to Moodle a success. Within one year, we have already
created ways for Moodle to work with some of our other systems including iTunes U and
the Library databases. When the decision was made to move to Moodle, we did not have
100% favorability from the faculty for the move. No school will achieve a consensus on
a project like this. Most of the faculty concerns about the move centered on how
migration would be handled and not Moodle itself.

You asked about successes. Here are a few of our successes with Moodle:

      Moodle allows us to explore more team teaching than ever before. For instance,
       in Blackboard if you combined multiple sections of courses together, you would
       have difficulty keeping the sections apart including the grade book. In Moodle,
       faculty can work together to create content while keeping their individual sections
       apart. This allows faculty members to communicate directly with just their
       students. We just finished our peer review project where online faculty reviewed
       all of our online courses. Online courses that were team taught received some of
       the highest scores of our online courses.
      One of our best decisions was hiring faculty to move courses. Some other
       community colleges had their distance learning offices move the content, but we
       are too big of an institution to do that. Others hired Remote Learner to move the
       content, but that model proved costly plus it lacked contact between the person
       moving the course and the person teaching the course. Over a three-month
       period, six faculty members plus members of the eLearning staff moved the
       content of the courses. Team members often talked directly to the faculty
       members about their course and how they wanted the migrated handled. In the
       end, our faculty felt like we had respected their time since we did not ask them to
       move their content and gave them time to learn the system.
      After using Moodle for a year as a school, many of the faculty members who were
       negative about the switch have since changed their mind. Knowing the system
       and having their content intact made them more confident about Moodle. As their
       peers began to embrace the new system, they fears about the limitations about
       Moodle were laid to rest.



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      Spring 2009 was the most calm start of a semester that I have EVER experienced
       at GTCC. Our phone calls were minimal. I actually called MIS during the first
       week of school to have them check our phones since I thought something had to
       be wrong. Moodle was proving to be more student-friendly than we ever
       imagined. Due to its flexibility, MIS was able to provide us daily updates about
       registration so that students adding a course would see their Moodle sites within
       24 hours. Before, students signing up during drop-add had to wait until the end of
       drop-add to see their course.

With every system, there are challenges. Here are a few of the challenges that we
currently face with Moodle:

      Moodle is LDAP ready, but not Datatel friendly. GTCC is slowly moving to
       LDAP and it may be some time before we can use this system to register students
       into our LMS. Since we are heavy users of the group feature and a large
       institution with many students, we hired a part-time programmer to create some
       in-house solutions for us around enrollment.
      Publishers are slowly coming over to Moodle. Some are here, but many are not.
       Right now, our faculty members create hyperlinks in their classrooms to publisher
       resources. This is not the ideal. We rather have the content in the online
       classroom to streamline navigation. Ideally that content should be going into the
       NCLOR so that we can access it that way and avoid the need to find ways to
       integrate this content.
      Only a handful of community colleges in North Carolina are on Moodle. This
       limits our number of resources considerably. Before with any Blackboard
       problem, you can find someone quickly in the state to help you solve an issue.
      Our faculty members have specific requests for changes to Moodle that are
       coming eventually. Some of these faculty members can be vocal about these
       problems and misinform others that things are not working when really they are
       not working the way that person wants them to work. We have to stay on top of
       how faculty members perceive the system and make sure that they know that
       updates will come. This is common practice whenever you move from one
       system to another. Its natural human tendency to compare the present with the
       past and believe that how past systems worked as status quo.

What were our lessons learned and recommendations for other schools considering the
jump?

      A school’s eLearning staff and committee should explore several possible systems
       and narrow this down to one for a pilot. Faculty members barely have time to
       explore one system much less several. We did this, but we were not very public
       about stating this to faculty. In an effort to save time, we talked all about Moodle.
       Some faculty members believed that we did not review other systems. Make sure
       that your full evaluation process is as public as possible so that faculty members
       and others can explore this research if they wish.



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      The more faculty members you have involved in a pilot from diverse areas, the
       better. Realize faculty will have a hard time evaluating a new system without
       some training and some of their content already in the site.

      Never stop stating the whys. Be clear about why you are switching. Saving
       money should not be the primary reason. For GTCC, it was not the primary
       reason, but we did not vocalize the other reasons enough. Faculty members were
       always convinced that it was because of the money. You can’t change technology
       just because of the money. It has to enhance learning, be student friendly and
       allow faculty members to create the resources and assessments that they need.
       We believe we did this, but we were not vocal enough about these reasons.

      While talking to our students about what they liked and did not like about our
       LMS, I realized that GTCC had to make this leap. If I could go back in time, I
       would have found more ways to tap our students’ excitement about Moodle and
       had them talking directly to faculty and administration about it. Moving to
       Moodle made us more relevant to many of our students yet faculty members
       never heard this message directly from our students.

That in a nutshell explains GTCC’s journey from Blackboard to Moodle. The pages that
follow are the documents used during the presentation to the Academic Leadership Team
in fall 2007 to help them make their decision about whether use Blackboard or Moodle.

Please let me know if you need anything else from me about Moodle.




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                                         Our LMS
                               (Learning Management System)


                                      Overall Approach

As we approached the end of our three-year contract with Blackboard and the NCLC consortium,
GTCC needed to explore its LMS options. Several reasons motivated this exploration.

      Service from Blackboard ASP hosting is not high quality even though GTCC pays
       around $50,000 a year to host our server. Some of our upgrades failed. Content was
       being corrupted or lost. Problems were occurring that Blackboard could not explain.
       Help tickets were taking months for attention and sometimes were not answered. Faculty
       members were vocal about the slowness of the system. GTCC received a second bill
       during 2006-2007 for over usage.

      The NCLC Blackboard consortium model that worked so well for us in 2005 is no longer
       meeting our needs. GTCC has requested an increase in faculty privileges such as
       changing student passwords that was not approved by the consortium. Scheduling
       upgrades means working around the calendars of four schools instead of just one.

      Costs for our LMS were increasing due to the growth in eLearning and the use of online
       classrooms. This fall (2007), 65% of our sections use Blackboard either as their primary
       or supplementary means of instruction. Our current server configuration can not handle
       our current growth pattern resulting in slowness issues.

Our LMS must:

   1. Have quizzes, discussion boards, assignment links, announcements, a clear way to upload
      files, reporting features for auditing purposes and a grade book. These are the most used
      features of our current LMS.

   2. Be flexible so that it can be integrated with our existing systems.

   3. Grow with us as online sections increase without large jumps in price. Costs should be
      sustainable over a long period of time.

   4. Be student, faculty and learning friendly.

   5. Have a regional host who has experience in hosting this platform, offer 24/7 customer
      service and 99% uptime guarantees.




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                                  Summary of Steps


   Applied to become a NCMUG school
    See Comparisons of systems page 4
    See Moodle Pilot page 4
   Joined the TLT Collaborative
    See TLT Collaborative page 17
    See System Office page 18
   Attended Moodle and Sakai Training (Faculty and ELearning)
   Created Fall Pilot
   Announced Moodle Pilot to Faculty (via email in July 2007)
   Presented at the Faculty Association Meeting in September
    See Results page 4
   Collect feedback from faculty, staff and students about Moodle
    See Comments from Faculty page 5
    See Comments from Students page 11
    See Comments from DisAbility Services page 11
    See Problems Encountered page 12
    See Frequently Asked Questions page 13
   Contacted current clients of our potential vendor
    See Conversations with Clients page 21
   Talked to book publishers about Moodle
   Moodle Training, October 22nd
   Present to Academic Leadership Team
    See Possible Moodle Structure at GTCC page 12


                                 Options for GTCC


1. Complete Blackboard contract 6/30/08, Migrate to Moodle by 5/08.
2. Renew Blackboard contract for one year as part of the consortium, Purchase
    Moodle server now, Migrate by 5/09.
3. Renew Blackboard contract for one year alone, Purchase Moodle server now, Migrate by
    5/09.
4. Renew Blackboard contract for three years as part of the consortium.


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                            Pros/Cons of Blackboard and Moodle

Blackboard
Pros
    1. Most of our faculty members are already trained in Blackboard. This eliminates the need
        for massive re-training.
    2. Course content currently resides in Blackboard. This eliminates the need for a massive
        migration of content.
    3. The system office is currently paying our license fees for Blackboard.
    4. Blackboard currently works and integrates with several of our publishers including
        Thomson and Pearson.
Cons
    1. Hosting at Blackboard has not met our expectations. Data heavy areas of Blackboard
        such as grade books are very slow. Some past upgrades have failed and content was lost.
    2. System office may not continue to pay our license fees in the future.
    3. Due to steady growth, costs are increasing for Blackboard usage. GTCC received a
        second invoice this year for over usage. This is after massive housecleaning over the
        summer of our server.
    4. To be able to afford Blackboard hosting, we will need to stay with the consortium
        meaning that scheduling of upgrades will not be up to us. Faculty must keep the same
        level of permissions that we have now. Students and faculty must continue to log into
        Blackboard using the “gtcc-“ prefix.
Pricing
Year 1 (05-06) $26,263, Year 2 (06-07) $35,020, Year 3 (07-08) $44,000 + $12,266 = $56,266

Moodle
Pros
    1. Moodle is open source so that we can spend our money on additional space to stay ahead
        of our growing needs instead of license costs.
    2. Moodle has the same features as Blackboard that our faculty and students use frequently.
        Moodle also offers additional features not in Blackboard such as blogs for everyone,
        built-in wiki, hyperlinks for glossary terms, lessons that allow for branching and
        advanced reporting features.
    3. System office is Moodle-friendly.
    4. The UNC system is exploring to an open source solution. North Carolina Community
        College System is partnering with them to pool resources. This means GTCC could take
        advantage of new tools being developed by universities. Also, it means our college
        transfer students will be prepared for the online environments at the UNC schools.
Cons
    1. Changing systems means that faculty and staff will need to be re-trained.
    2. Changing systems means that content will need to migrated from Blackboard to Moodle.
        This means the creation of a migration team made up of faculty and staff to move content
        during the spring semester.
    3. Publishers are starting to create common course cartridges that work with any platform,
        but many are not there yet.
    4. Structurally, Moodle looks different from Blackboard. Some faculty members cannot
        adjust to this change quickly.
Pricing
Year 1 (07-08) $38,000 (GTCC-specific customizations), Proceeding years $18,000




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                                    Comparison of systems

Blackboard is our current LMS that offers a license-agreement model. Blackboard can only be
hosted either at our school or at Blackboard. Right now, the system office is paying our license
fees and we are paying our hosting fees as part of the consortium. Educators can make
suggestions of changes, but the final decision for upgrades rests on Blackboard’s Development
Team.

Sakai is an open-source platform that began in 2004. Currently, Sakai is missing some core
functionality, has an immature development process and many key tools are not stable at this
time. The community management model is structured with an elected board of directors and
defining voting process for conveying the community priorities for development. The board of
directors consists of representatives from large research universities and corporations. Sakai
requires the school to develop the missing core functionality. Its source code is complex and
requires a programmer on campus to make it productive.

Moodle is an open-source platform that began in 1998. It is more mature and it offers more
robust functionality than Sakai. The community management model for Moodle is an informal
hierarchy and the core design group which decides development priorities receives suggestions
for changes through informal discussion. Moodle development is led by the Moodle Foundation
which is led by the Moodle creator Martin Dougiamas. All Moodle partners hosting Moodle
must give 10% of their Moodle income to the foundation to keep it moving forward. All
members of moodle.org have equal voting power in new Moodle tools. Moodle has richer and
more stable functionality in the tools most commonly used by instructors. Its source code is not
as complex as Sakai.

                                          Moodle pilot

GTCC is part of the NCMUG project with the system office. We received free Moodle training
the summer 2007 and 20GB Moodle server for a pilot. After attending training, several
instructors requested their fall course in Moodle instead of Blackboard.

Courses now in Moodle (Fall 2007):

NOS 230-01, Windows Administration I, CIS-110-OL1, OL2, Introduction to Computers, ENG-
111-OL1, OL2, OL3, OL4, Expository Writing, ENG-114-OL1, OL2, Argument-based Writing,
COM-110-OL3, OL4, Introduction to Communication and GRA-153-01L, Computer Graphics III

Faculty Association Presentation (September 12, 2007)

Over 50 full-time faculty members attended this presentation to see Moodle and learn how they
had access. Before the presentation started, the following questions were asked using the
classroom clicker technology to gather anonymous feedback:




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1. What are your thoughts about Blackboard?

       14.29% Love it
       54.29% Like it
       14.29% Neutral
       8.57% It’s not great
       8.57% Hate it

2. What is your reaction to a possible change in Learning Management Systems?

       14.29% Freaking out
       22.86% Worried
       17.14% Neutral
       25.71% OK
       20% Let’s go right now.

After the presentation of Moodle, the following questions were asked:

3. What is your reaction now to Moodle?
      28.57% I like it better than Blackboard.
      45.71% This looks interesting.
      14.29% Neutral
      11.43% Still a bit worried.
      0% Still freaking out.

On October 22, 2007 - 59 faculty and staff members signed up and completed Moodle training.
Departments that attended the training include: LRC, English, IT, Math, EMS, Surg Tech, Dental,
Dental Assisting, Developmental Reading, HVAC, Accounting, Business Administration,
Physical Sciences, Fire Protection, CFA, Communication, Social Science, ESL, Early Childhood,
Aviation, History, OST, Heath, College Transfer Center, Assessment Center and Con-Ed.

                                  Comments from faculty
(Collection of emails, comments made on surveys and discussion board postings from faculty)

Received from Patty Cates
In anticipate that the school might be moving to Moodle in a couple of years, I asked the book rep
to see if there was an interface available for our web pieces for the ACC 120 book through
Moodle. They do not. That will cause a significant problem for us. We have a great deal of
course materials, interactive homework, etc. built and all the classes are web enhanced. Truth be
told, we're a little scared. Do you have any insight?

Replied to Patty Cates
I understand completely that you are scared. You guys do have a lot of content with your
publisher. Frankly, I haven't seen the Thomson Now Building Block in action so I don't know
how integral the process is.

There are a handful of departments that are heavy users of course cartridges and Blackboard
integrations and your department is one of the main ones. Yes, we need to meet together to




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figure out a strategy for you. Before the integration, were you relying on simply course cartridges
or links in Blackboard to the publisher's websites?

The Moodle decision is still out until October 19. I am waiting on faculty to jump into Moodle
and share their thoughts with us via the survey and discussion board. If the majority of the
faculty say, don't go, we will sign a one-year contract with Blackboard. If they want to jump,
then the shift will be faster than a few years. Our present Blackboard contract expires June 30,
2008 - meaning that we will have to leap as soon as summer 2008.

BEFORE October 19, is there a way that the four of us can sit around a table with your publisher
on the phone and talk about some strategies? They may not be able to create a Moodle cartridge
by the timeframe but maybe we can figure out other ways to get the content into Moodle.

This transition (if it happens) will be a scary one, but honestly it is quite overdo for GTCC. We
need a LMS that is more flexible than Blackboard. We are growing too fast and we have too
many unmet needs. This summer, we did look at other systems like Sakai (which is one that I
believe Thomson does work with), but the system is not stable - it was created in 2004! Many of
its key features are not working properly.

Let me know when we can get together. Amy

Received from Connie Carroll
Amy,
Once again it appears that the math department is going to be labeled as the opposers. There is
much concern among department members about switching to Moodle because it appears that
using TestGen for online tests is an issue in Moodle. With the push for online instruction, this
will be a major concern. A couple of math instructors have mentioned this and we discussed the
potential change to Moodle in our departmental meeting yesterday. For math instructors to do
online and/or web-enhanced classes, there needs to be the capability to do online testing for
quizzes and tests. Many of our textbooks have testbanks that use Test Generator for the online
tests.
Will you please let us know what you have found out about Moodle and TestGen.
Thanks.
Connie

Replied to Connie Carroll
Yes, Lynn Scott has been working with us to troubleshoot Test Gen. Our Moodle contacts have
told us that Test Gen works with Moodle. We are trying to figure out the right combination of
settings to make it work. Is there a way that Michael and I can borrow one of your Test Gen discs
to load it to our machines so that we can use it ourselves and figure it out?

Received from Michelle Jarvis
I just wanted to let you know that I received the e-mail from Michael about Moodle and the
content migration concerns. I can speak only for myself, but I imagine that other faculty feel the
same way, and I think it's fair to let you know. I understand that we will have support for the
migration, and that's a good thing, but if we faculty encounter problems that cause content to
nonetheless be lost or just experience a huge time obligation to get courses set up again, this is a
concern and a problem.

Please understand that this isn't an objection to going to Moodle but rather a concern that really
hasn't been allayed by reassurances of support. If I could hear from faculty at other schools who


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have already gone through migration, it would go a long way to making me feel better about what
we are about to do.

Just as an aside, I probably won't be personally affected by the migration as I don't plan to teach
the web enhanced course after the spring. I did, however, think it was important to let you know
what might help faculty to feel better about the change.

Replied to Michelle Jarvis
Thanks for telling me Michelle and believe me, I understand those concerns and hear them. Part
of the risk of migration is that we can lose content. But realize that we face that risk all the time
just in Blackboard. Michael and I encounter problems every semester just moving a Blackboard
course into another Blackboard course. That is why we want to use this transition to reinvent
how we do things so that we don't have to keep moving around content. Instead, faculty should
have a set place to store their courses so that they can work on them 365 days a year without
waiting on us. That is our mission with Moodle.


I prefer Blackboard
by Carol Schmid - Friday, 5 October 2007, 11:42 AM
---------------------------------------------------------------------
I also prefer Blackboard for some of the same reasons at Rita. I find Moodle too busy. All the
content (instead of a textbook) is on the Course Documents on Blackboard. I have much better
control of this with Blackboard that I would with Moodle. I also use the Announcement board a
lot, especially for my three merged large Intro Sociology classes (also 150 student). I personally
prefer Blackboard after going through all of the Moodle examples.

Received from Danielle Richardson
I went in and looked at Moodle and it seems easy, but different. Anything with change is going
to take time to learn. I actually have the opportunity to use Moodle at Randolph in the spring and
would like to use it at GTCC as well. I feel the only way to learn is to actually use the program.
(That is assuming that you all are going to go with Moodle).

I spoke with David Smith and he wanted my impressions of Moodle since I know Blackboard so
well, but I feel I need to know/see more before I can give him an honest opinion.

Also, I think it is great that you are giving the faculty the opportunity to see Moodle and play in
the course. I think it is sad though that so many people have not even logged in to see what
Moodle is about or for a refresher from your presentation.

Oh well. I just thought I would give my opinion. I feel that you do look out for what is best for
the faculty and trust your judgement.

I prefer Moodle
by Lori Robertson - Friday, 12 October 2007, 12:02 PM
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Moodle seems much more cognitive and easier to navigate. I like how it allows us as instructors
to be highly interactive with the students in various formats and for the students to be interactive
with others in the same ways. One of the bonuses that Moodle has that Bb does not is the ability
to teach one course with multiple sections, but have separate grade books for each section. I like
that everything is housed on the main page of Moodle and content isn't buried within the course,
which can sometimes make content hard to find for students in Bb. Often students


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get frustrated by having to dig for content in Bb and excessive clicking throughout the site. The
editing is wonderful and requires a lot less clicking and navigation for the instructor. There seem
to be more options with the sticky blocks in Moodle to personalize your course. The only
downside I've seen of Moodle so far is the Announcements capabilities that Bb has, but I think
that can be fixed by adding a Topic at the top of the page and/or by using the News Forum.


Moodle vs BlackBoard
by Kathy Willard - Saturday, 13 October 2007, 06:22 PM
---------------------------------------------------------------------
 I can see advantages to both BB and Moodle. Moodle appears to be more user friendly to
students. It is easier for them to find assignments, etc without needing to drill down several times.
I have read several comments from instructors who have actually used Moodle during the
semester and am concerned that the instructor will need to alter some of their current methods of
doing business in BB in order to fit Moodle. I can adapt to Moodle and understand the
economic/other reasons that force us to look for another system. My main concerns are
transferring content and maintaining iTunesU availability.

Received from Virginia Tunstall
Thank you for the demo Friday.
I do have a question - of course did not think of this Friday. I know you said that with Moodle we
do not have to store assignments in a designated ASSIGNMENTS location but can we set up our
courses that way with Moodle? One of the things my students like about the ARC online courses
is the organization.

Lovin' Moodle!!!
by Megan Simpson - Tuesday, 16 October 2007, 12:43 PM
I really am enjoying working with Moodle this semester. It is so much fun. I love how I can see
my student's activity- each time they click on an assignment, each time they view a resource, and
when they submit their assignments, etc.

My students love Moodle too. They like to be in on the cutting-edge of technology. I even
overheard students talking about it: "Oh, are you taking that online class with Moodle?"- kind of
bragging about it.

I like how I can see when my students are participating and when they are online in the course. I
like how Moodle shows, in Participants, how long it's been since the student's last log in.

I think we definitely should migrate to Moodle. I love the technology and am thrilled that maybe
some of our students in Computers and IT can create code to modify and enhance our Moodle
sites.
Megan

Received from Amanda Rivers
I have only briefly visited Moodle. It seems to have several cool options to it. I have two
concerns. My first is with the amount of work that will be required to switch classes from
Blackboard to Moodle. Tied in with that, I am also concerned that the classes I have archived
that I might currently not be teaching will be completely lost to me in the future as I do not have
time to switch them over in a semester when I am teaching them. (For example, I taught English
114 online for the last time in Fall 2006; I currently do not have time to move it over by myself.
What happens to that content if I cannot move it from Blackboard to Moodle in time?)


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My second concern is for the students. I mentioned that GTCC was looking at a new platform
option for online classes and/or supplements. The students' immediate response was "Who else
(meaning other universities) is using this" and "I just became familiar with Blackboard - how am
I going to learn another platform".

I think that there will be some student (as well as faculty resistance) for these two reasons.

Again, I have not had as much time to get into Moodle as I would have liked, but these are the
two major problems I foresee.

Take care,
Amanda

Received from Joan Moran
The faculty I have talked to are in favor of Moodle. I don't think most of our content should be
difficult to switch.

Joan Moran, Chair/Associate Professor
Early Childhood Education Department

Received from Debbie Allison
I'm game with moodle. Just need help switching over. Also let me know if anyone cancels
Monday for 'moodle training' if not, can I stand in the back and just listen????


by Carra Miskovich - Friday, 19 October 2007, 11:00 PM
I am open to Moodle, indeed. It appears to be user friendly and if it is
faster than blackboard, I am all for it!

Received from Ron Greene
Until our faculty meeting Wednesday I was on the fence about the moodle move. I am now not
in favor of the new system because it is awkward to use and not intuitive. Learning this system
would be very time consuming and probably even stressful at times. Since I do not teach distance
courses anymore, I do not want or need so many options and confusions.
Blackboard has it faults, but it is simple and meets my needs as a supplement to my five courses.
Ron Greene, English/Humanities

Kay Underhill
I don’t like Moodle. Stay with Blackboard.

Rita Gress
When I first created my Bb course, I logged over 80 hours during the summer months when
I was not teaching to enter content and organize it the way I wanted. How will I ever get
this much time to work on Moodle during Spring semester without tons of reassigned time?
I also like the way Bb looks--I can set a color scheme and organize it in areas & modules of
assignments and lectures. Moodle looks too generic, plain and BUSY! I can't find stuff in
Moodle.




                                                                                                   13
Ron Hamilton
Blackboard is a part of text now. It is important we can continue to use online exams and
test banks.

Randy Ludington
Just make it easier, faster and more reliable than Bb. Not knowing anything about Moodle,
there are many concerns. Not the least of which is all of the Bb content in my courses and
how that is going to "migrate" to anything, let alone Moodle. Who is going to "migrate" this
work?

Elaine Simmons
I am neutral. I leave it up to the majority.

Amy Huffman
Will anything be lost? Is there anything available in Blackboard now (except, of course, the
snail-like pace of the Grade book) that isn't available in Moodle?

Sue Canter
Does the college have the necessary infrastructure (band width, etc.) to support on-campus access
to Moodle? We have such a slow response time from some campus buildings with Bb that it
would be a shame to experience this with a new package.

Lynn Scott
Moodle should have an organization that supports both weekly assignments and materials for
reference. For example, if web-enhanced classes meet once per week, there should be a way to
organize assignments by week to present them in an organized manner to our students. There
should also be a reference area, similar to Course Documents in Blackboard, in which chapter /
unit reference documents can be organized so that if students miss class, they can print the
documents they need. This is also pertinent to those classes which meet totally in the classroom.
There is still the issue of missed classes and the need to provide copies of documents.

Second, Moodle should meet the needs of all programs on campus. Blackboard is not
perfect, but it has been used and adapted to meet needs. If we cannot offer quizzes, labs and
tests generated by a test generator and/or port the quizzes, labs and tests we have created on
Blackboard (those which have pictures, images, etc.) in them, then Moodle is not going to
work for those departments which depend on these resources. This is particularly important
for web-enhanced and online classes, in which online labs and quizzes are essential.

Third, there should be sufficient testing to make sure all the functionality is there and it
works before simply cutting over to Moodle. If we cut over to Moodle and the functionality
is not there, we will either have to cancel web-enhanced and online classes or we will have
to find a method of delivery outside the Moodle system to reach our students. The problem
with another method is that it won't be consistent with the other departments who may
not have these issues.

Tiffany Hunter
I just want to be reassured that all of my course content will be migrated over without any
problems.




                                                                                               14
Kent Langenwalter
The ease of faculty learning the new system, how 3rd party software will work with the new
program, (respondus and such), and overall stability of the system and hardware. Loss of
data, and programming of classes. I know a team will migrate all of the BB classes over but
will it remain as it is set up or will things shift around?

                                    Comments from students

I like both of the systems, but I think that I prefer Blackboard. From my experiences blackboard
seems to be easier for students who may not be as computer savvy.

I am currently using both Blackboard and Moodle, and I agree that it is difficult to compare the
two. There are things that I like about both. However, if I must give my preference, I will say
Moodle - as long as the gradebook is readable! ;)

I really like both blackboard and Moodle, so it would be very hard to decide, I think that Moodle
is easier to move around in but the test taking seems to be easier in Blackboard. I dont know I am
really torn. I have 3 classes on blackboard and only one on Moodle.

Moodle, 100% all the way. Blackboard is as outdated as its real life counter-part.

I actually prefer Moodle. Moodle is more like an actual classroom and takes some of the
frustration of "what do I do next" out of your work. It is also easier to contact your instructors in
Moodle than blackboard. I really like being able to see that my instructor is online and can get
immediate help sometimes. I've taken online classes in both formats. Neither is bad. I just prefer
Moodle's style better.

For the limited amount of contact that I have in both systems I would state my preference at this
time for Moodle, perhaps because I have actually spent more time in it due to the amount of
online work in this Communications
class. :-) I do not have any issues with Blackboard and I found it fairly easy to move around for
previous classes and for this semester as well.
I have only used Moodle with GTCC (this is my first class at the college) and like it alot. I am
very impressed. I can compare it to RCC and WSSU and probably like it the best.


                              Comments from DisAbility Services

From Kent Cowan, DisAbility Services
 I have reviewed Moodle using screen magnification software (ZoomText) and screen reader
software (Jaws) and have found that it is accessible to persons with disabilities; primarily people
using Assistive Technology to access the computer. In addition, I reviewed Moodle's current
Accessibility Specifications, as well as the processes they have in place to address future
accessibility issues, and have found them to be quite impressive. One suggestion that I would
make, regardless of which course management system the college decides to go with, is that we
provide detailed navigation instructions for AT users. From an accessibility/usability standpoint,
I would support a decision to move to Moodle. From a personal standpoint, I really liked
Moodle’s design/functionality.




                                                                                                   15
                                   Problems encountered

During our pilot, we encountered several problems.

   1. Wimba Tools would not load properly. Solution: Install CURL and DOT XML to our
      Moodle server.
   2. Respondus was not loading tests to Moodle. Solution: Respondus maintains a free plug-
      in to a Moodle server that allows Respondus to work with Moodle. This was loaded to
      our server.
   3. Moodle has no math equation editor allowing faculty to easily insert mathematical
      symbols. Solution: Remote Learner suggested an equation editor that has been loaded to
      Moodle.
   4. Test Gen is not working properly. Solution: Our eLearning programmer has created an
      in-house solution to this problem.
   5. Grade books can me exported but not imported. Solution: This was solved with an
      upgrade to a newer version.


                             Possible Moodle structure at GTCC

Due to the growth and demand for online classrooms, eLearning at GTCC keeps growing.
We need more than one instance of Moodle in order to meet this need. If Moodle comes to
GTCC, ELearning proposes the following structure. We need 5 instances of Moodle on our
server.

1. Curriculum Over half of all classes, eLearning and others, are using Blackboard. The
number of Blackboard sites from last fall has increased by 20%. We need one instance of
Moodle to meet the needs of our curriculum students. This instance must be integrated with
Datatel so that student enrollment is automatic, automate the course creatio n process so that
all faculty can create their future Moodle sites when they are ready and integrate with our
other systems such as the online library databases, iTunes U and Cruiser.

2. Continuing Education Over the past year, there has been a steady increase in the number
of Blackboard sites for Continuing Education sites. These courses run on their own calendar
and operate differently than curriculum courses. Continuing Education needs its own
instance so that it can adjust to their needs.


3. Public Potential students need access to our online classrooms to explore what GTCC has
to offer and to find out if they are suited for eLearning courses. For instance, the online
version of New Student Orientation is a perfect fit for this instance of Moodle. T he general
public can freely create their own accounts and come and go as they please. All we would
require is an email address. On a regular basis, information would be purged and forwarded
to marketing to alert these potential students about opportunities at GTCC.

4. Testing Having an instance of Moodle just for testing would allow us to show the newest
versions of Moodle to faculty and staff before we updated our other instances.

5. One to grow on. We cannot predict the future, but having one extra instance of Moodle
allows us to be ready to meet future needs.



                                                                                            16
                                Frequently Asked Questions

If we move to Moodle, will I lose all of my content from my Blackboard site?
No. Our Moodle host will send people to our campus to teach us how to move content .

Why do we have to move anyway?
We are approaching the end of our Blackboard contract on June 30, 2008. With all
technology, it's important to step back and make sure that our tools are relevant and meet the
needs. Blackboard has served us well over the past 10 years, but not great.

Blackboard was first hosted on campus, but after experiencing long downtimes since our
MIS department does not work over the weekend, our school decided to pursue off -site
hosting in 2005. In order to afford this expense, we had to partner with three other schools
to save money on the hosting costs. As we near the end of our contract, we are learning
quickly that we are outgrowing our consortium arrangement. Our number of Blackboard
sites outweighs the needs of the other schools. Faculty need more control over student data
such as changing passwords, but several schools in our consortium do not allow this.

We are also experiencing difficulties in getting new students in our system. The time has
come to allow potential students access to our Learning Management System so that
students can learn firsthand if a eLearning course is for them. Blackboard and our current
systems at GTCC do not allow us this flexibility. Moodle will allow us to have a separate
system just for the public and allow potential students to create their own account when they
are ready.

These reasons and more make this time the best time to explore the possibilities of moving
to another system.

Moodle is an open source Learning Management System. What does open source
mean? Are we getting this for free?
Nothing is free. We will always have to pay hosting costs for whatever system we choose.
Open source means that the source code for the software and open to the public. Anyone can
download Moodle to their computer right now. We pay a hosting service make sure that our
service is up all the time and to make programming changes. Paying a hosting service also
allows us to create an infrastructure for our systems to meet our growing needs.

If we switch to Moodle, will everything just operate like before in ELearning?
I hope not. ELearning is a two-person operation that spends most of its time creating,
maintaining and troubleshooting Blackboard sites. We hope that a switch to a more flexible
system will allow us to automate some of our major processes such as course creation and
student enrollment. This would give us more time to assist faculty to meet their online
instruction goals and to embrace innovation.

Does a new system mean that I have to go through training again?
Yes. During the spring semester, training sessions will be ongoing.

How is GTCC using Moodle during the fall semester?
GTCC was one of five schools chosen to receive access to a free Moodle server and training
for the next year. During this time, ELearning staff and faculty from various departments
attended training and created their fall courses on Moodle. During the fall 2007 semester, we


                                                                                           17
have 15 active courses using Moodle. We are also using this server to give faculty and staff
access to pilot this system.

Is there any chance that it could replace both GTCruiser and Blackboard?
Moodle, if chosen, will replacement Blackboard. Hopefully Moodle and GTCruiser will be
intergrated closely so that students can move nicely from one to the other.

What have other schools (and instructors specifcally) found when they migrated course
content from Blackboard to Moodle? I know that we will have a team trained in
migration, but things don't always go as smoothly in real life as they do in training.

True. Migration will be the most time-consuming and challenging task. That is why we plan
to hire professionals to come to our campus and work with our faculty to migrate their
content. Since everyone does something different, the answer to this questio n is "it
depends". Several colleges have already taken the plunge and we are trying to find a way to
have their faculty talk to our faculty.

What is the possibility that Moodle will cease to be open souce? As more schools
implement it, I just wonder if there will be a movement to charge for Moodle, either
outright or in the form of upgrades. It would not be good to be in the middle of a
hosting contract and then get slapped with unanticipated fees from Moodle.

This is a great question. I have two answers:

1. The open source movement in regards to software is going full swing. Nowadays, the
tools that we are using have free alternatives. This represents a changing mindset on the
Internet. It's that concept of flat and free - keeping innovation and technology available to
many people.

2. There are several open source solutions in Learning Management Systems. Michael and I
looked at several of them. Most did not compare in infrastructure and approach to Moodle
and Sakai. Sakai is leading away from the open source approach as businesses like Thomson
and Apple invest huge amounts of money into them. Moodle was established very
differently. It was created by one man, but it is supported by a foundation. Anyone who
hosts Moodle commercially must give 10% of their income from hosting back to the
foundation. The foundation then pays programmers around the world to create new tools for
Moodle. So, it's has a sustainable model for growth and support without the need for
commercial investment. That speaks volumes about the foundation's committment to stay
open source.

The demo screen you showed yesterday seemed a little visually busy to me for
developmental students who tend to need as few distractions on a screen as possible. I
know that the sticky blocks can be customized to remove as many as needed, but then
how hard is the information to find? Where would students find this information?
Developmental students tend to want very easy access to everything or they just won't
look for it.

I did have a lot of things on the screen, but realize that I put them there. As an instructor,
you can create your Moodle site with fewer things so that your students do not get
distracted. Realize also as ELearning Coordinator that I subject my students to all the new
technology that we have at GTCC to gauge their reaction for the school. You were seeing a


                                                                                                18
bit of that on the screen.

Rest assured that you could easily have just one or two things on that page and make the
course looked VERY STREAMLINED. What I think is that I no longer have to tell my
students to click this button for this and this button for that. It's just right there - either that
one assignment or hundred.

Does it have a gradebook component?
Yes, Moodle does have a gradebook component. It works very similar to the Blackboard
gradebook with either individual percentages for assignments or categories. One feature that
I really like about grading in Moodle is that when I grade an asssignment (listed under
activities), I can add a comment and a grade. As soon as I save it, the student receives an
email alerting them that I have graded it. Of course, it looks a little different from
Blackboard initially, but with anything new, once you know what to touch and what
everything is called, you are off and running.

What kind of flexibility do the "stickies?" offer?
Sticky blocks can be added and removed constantly and you have several options. We are
working with our potential vendor to explore other ways we can use sticky blocks at GTCC.
For instance, we use iTunes U a lot. Access to iTunes U will take the form of a sticky block.
The library wants to work closer with faculty to push articles from the online databases
directly into the online classrooms. This would be a sticky block. The possibilities are
endless.

Speaking of flexibiility, since Moodle is much more flexibile than say Blackboard or
Cruiser, we have some real opportunities to tailor the environment to meet the needs of
GTCC. One of the challenges that we have given our potential Moodle vendor is to create an
online attendance roster for all faculty where he/she can keep attendance. Then, after the
10% point, Michael and I click some buttons and generate the attendance forms for every
class at GTCC. Death to the green bar forms! It's a big goal, but one that we are working on
thanks to Moodle.

How does the user organize material so that some is highlighted and some is meant to
be used at later dates?
There are a number of strategies to highlight material. The easiest is closing the eyeball of
everything that student should not see right now. When an assignment is over, I hide it from
a student's sight. You also have the option of different outlines to use such as social, topic
and weekly. I am a fan of the weekly outline where I allow students to see only one week at
a time. Also, you can make text larger and add color to direct their attention.

Beside cost what are the advantages of using Moodle over GTCruiser, which is already
in place and used by some faculty. Are we paying for the simplicity that Moodle offers
over the more complex Cruiser?
GTCruiser is GTCC's communication portal and it does offer several handy course -specific
functions like tests, gradebook and a place to keep documents. And it's tied in nicely to
Datatel thanks to the marriage of WebAdvisor and Datatel. But, because of it's level of
integration and some of our internal processes here, faculty do not have access to their
course sites until 24-48 hours before the first day of class. Online instructors start working
on their online classrooms months in advance.

GTCruiser's real gift to GTCC is giving students a branded email account and a school -wide


                                                                                                   19
approach to communication. The LMS tools are still a bit basic and evolving since
TimeCruiser is now trying to get in the LMS market. Realize though that our school uses
Cruiser only for curriculum students. They are the majority of our students, but they are not
the only ones who use our LMS. Our next LMS needs to be a GTCC-wide, long-term,
sustainable and flexibile solution. I think Moodle fits that need nicely. Before we use a new
system at GTCC though, realize that it must talk to Datatel and streamline the process of
loading students.

Is there a class roster component in Moodle like Bb?
If you are talking about the List/Modify Users function in Blackboard, then the Moodle
equivalent is called Participants in Moodle. Look for it in the top left -hand corner. If you
use your grade book, then you can use your grade book in Moodle.




                                                                                                20
                                             Appendix
                                  From the TLT Collaborative

GTCC ELearning is part of the TLT Collaborative. The TLT Collaborative was formed by the
UNC schools to find an open-source LMS solution per the request of Erskine Bowles. The
collaborative invited several community colleges to join their group. Their goal is to explore the
two primary open-source solutions and make a recommendation based on technical and academic
merit.

Most campuses of the UNC and Community College systems make use of commercially
available course management systems. With the exception of the common hosting of Blackboard
Vista through a consortium of four campuses, the majority of the implementations are unique to
individual campuses. Depending upon the course management system being used, on the
individual campuses there can be expenses related to initial licensing, ongoing annual
maintenance fees, hardware, software, server administration, application administration, training
of staff, workshops for users, support of users, backups, disaster resistance, etc.

There are two major avenues of efficiency and cost effectiveness that can be:

    1.   • Replacing commercial course management systems with open-source versions.

    2.   • Hosting from central locations.

This project phase will focus on number one, the replacement benefits.

Objectives

The first part of this project will need to be an evaluation and viability study of Moodle and
Sakai, the leading open source products, in comparison to Blackboard’s systems, which are
currently in production across the state. The current plan to complete this study is to establish a
statewide team divided to accomplish the following:

    1. Functional Evaluation: Evaluate the teaching, learning, and administrative functions of
       these systems. This evaluation may draw on research and assessments already
       undertaken by other universities as well as evaluators’ experience of the programs.

    2.   Evaluation in Practice: Gather data from faculty and students’ experiences meeting
         their teaching and learning goals with Moodle and/or Sakai in comparison with their
         experiences with their home campuses’ CMS.

    3.    Technical Evaluation: Evaluate the integrity of these products as production-level
         software products.

    4.    Cost Analysis: Analyze TCO for course management systems and the costs associated
         with switching from one system to another.




                                                                                                  21
                                    From the System Office


From Bill Randall, Vice President, Learning Technologies, North Carolina Community
College System Office

The NCCCS commitment:
The System Office is committed to exploration of an alternative enterprise course management
system that is affordable, meets our instructional/learning requirements, and customizable. We
think Moodle is that alternative.

To that end, the System Office established the NC Moodle Users Group through a $40,000
contract to Remote-learner, Inc. in 2006, and resigned in 2007, to provide training, support, and
hosted courses for 10 of our community college.

Based on the success of the NCMUG and that of Appalachian State University, the System Office
entered into a contractual agreement with the University of North Carolina to establish the "Open
Source Collaborative: Moodle Pilot" to further research the capabilities of Moodle as a potential
North Carolina Higher Education e-CMS solution. The $170,000 expenditure of 2+2 funding to
establish the Moodle collaboration was approved by the NC State Board of Community Colleges
July 2007.

The Open Source Collaborative is consistent with NC e-Learning Commission recommendation
#13, section c: Invest in resources for appropriate “open source” learning technologies to
eventually replace proprietary systems and avoid escalating costs.

                           Open Source Collaborative: Moodle Pilot

Contract Services
The North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) will contract with the University of
North Carolina (UNC) to provide:
    Appropriate hardware consisting of servers and peripheral equipment;
    Branded, customizable Moodle access for each participating UNC constituent institution
       and North Carolina community college;
    Security;
    Appropriate backups of content & databases;
    24/7/365 support;
    Latest version of Moodle software;
    System administration;
    Application administration (Moodle) support;
    Programming for critical customization of Moodle software to accommodate needs of
       NCCCS and UNC administration, teaching, and learning;
    Budget and administration of funds directed to Moodle Project; and
    Project staff to collaborate with NCCCS staff in drafting recommendations, policy,
       project expansion, and reports.

A sum of $170,000 will be paid the University of North Carolina for the services indicated for a
term of 12.5 months as specified in the Agreement. This contract will support a total student
enrollment of 100,000.




                                                                                                22
Specific deliverables and anticipated costs are detailed below.

Hardware to include:
         Moodle rack servers capable of supporting a total of 100,000 learners
         Moodle instructor training conducted at several locations around the state
         Moodle administrator training conducted at several locations around the state
         Moodle training and support
         Annual support contract on purchased hardware
Servers each designed to support approximately 10,000 learners with the following specifications:
       1. 2x dual-core Woodcrest Xeon processor server running Linux OS
       2. 2 GB Ram
       3. 2x 250 GB HD’s in RAID mirror configuration
       4. Custom Moodle theme for each participating school
       5. Monitoring software (includes RL monitoring)
10 rack servers target service to 100,000 students. Each server to run both the Moodle application
and the database.
Servers will include a one-year support contract.
Both phone and Help Desk support. Technical support to include:
      Moodle installations, upgrades and additions of approved add-on’s
      Assistance with user authentication/enrollment setup (e.g. LDAP/AD, Banner, Datatel)
      Nightly backup configuration and monitoring
      Remote server monitoring (Cacti, Nagios)

Professional development services for campus teaching staff, which includes onsite 2-day
training.
Provision of on-going staff development and help desk access. Include subscriber service ticket
provision and scheduled virtual real-time and archived training sessions. Training topics to
include:
     How to use Moodle features
     New features introduced into the Moodle core
     Best practices in online learning
     Emerging trends in online learning
     How to use 3rd party tools for creating rich learning activities
Moodle administrator training for Moodle server technicians, including onsite 1-day training.
Moodle code review and consulting services for campus programming staff. This service will be
available to named users within NC higher education who are designated as e-learning
employee’s supporting Moodle. Each named user must be a qualified PHP programmer having a
minimum of 5 years experience.
Costs Summary
Anticipated equipment, training, programmer consultation, system administration, support, and
hosting costs.




                                                                                                23
                      Description            Total $

Hardware Procurement, Hosting, and Support      96,000

Training                                        38,000

Moodle Programmer Consulting Support             5,500

Moodle System Administration and Support        20,000

Research Initiative Administration              10,500

Total                                          170,000




                                                         24
                   Conversations with current clients of potential vendor

Meredith Keene-Wilson
Lane Community College
October 15, 2007

Your name has been given to me as someone who is a customer of Remote-Learner as your host
for Moodle. We are considering moving from Blackboard and Blackboard hosting to Moodle and
Remote-Learner. Would you be willing to take some time and answer the questions below? We
would be very grateful if you could. We are trying to make our a good decision based on lots of
information and need the inside story fromsomeone like you.

1. Why did you decide to use Remote Learner to manage Moodle for you?

When decided to move to Moodle, faculty led, had 20 – 22 fully online courses at that time.
Moved from WebCT. Did big conversion in summer 2006, a month prior to Fall semester. But
on day 1, had 170 instructors using it. Have one Moodle administrator. Have 2. 5 faculty
webmaster (learns to use innovative stuff and then teaches others) work more with pedagogy.
Work better with other faculty. Have to teach ½ time in classroom.

Faculty webmasters are now full-time rather than with Moodle, but really supposed to be ¼ time.
May hand this over to DL in future. Doing a Moodle forum online where faculty can post their
own problems. DL now sets up all online courses – set up schedule, have a TV studio and doing
telecourses. Have 3 people – a manager, an admin, a tech person – filming and TV classrooms.

Moved to 48 classes per term instead of 22. Some faculty need more support than others and
24/7 support. Faculty webmasters had been commissioned to help with conversion. CIS at their
college was to have taken over Moodle. Started with Moodle 1. 6 seems to have lots of bugs.
Found that they were doing too much fixing bugs – the webmasters. Don’t see the bugs in BB or
WEBCT.

Faculty liked it. WebCT users did not want to use. Decided to outsource. Looked at 4-5
vendors. Looked at Moodle Rooms and Remote Learner. Someone at Humboldt was using
Moodle Rooms, but felt that Remote Learner could handle servers better than Moodle Room.

Using LDAP for authentication using Banner. Using automatic course creation – Moodle does it.
Faculty can choose to use or not. Had lots of problems in August when this started. Had lots of
problems. Security needs were huge Use a secure socket layer and this caused problems.
If did not have . LDAP would work fine but SSL made it really hard.

Now they are not on remote learner servers yet. Are on a test server with Remote Learner. Will
fully move to RL in a week. Their difficulties were Lane CC’s problems.

Was a version of Moodle – wanted to go to 1.8, but wanted the grade book feature from
Humboldt, so went to 1.9 where grade book already working. Working a beta version of Moodle
– a BIG mistake, grade book still not debugged. Should not have been advised.

Secure socket layer – do we have.

RL very accommodating and working hard to make it work.



                                                                                             25
Work with several different folks

2. Do you use any other Learning Management Systems besides Moodle?

Not at this time, but use easy websites – they developed, can post grades, syllabus. For those
faculty who are not used to online teaching. Not secure. Will phase out by end of year.

3. How long have you been a Remote Learner customer?
Since August 1, 2008

4. What size of server do you have: level 1, 2, 3 or 4?
Level 3

5. What is the total college FTE?

Right under 10,000

6. What is your overall impression of Remote Learner?

Pres reachable and approachable and a solution person. Faculty support is problematic – an email
support system. Faculty go on line and put in a ticket and goes to RL help desk. 24 hour
response time guaranteed, but have been working at a 4 hour response, but cannot answer
questions on beta version. $99 per faculty for support. If a faculty is starting for first time, you
automatically get a Remote learner account. One person in each dept who has an account and a
“goto”person. Have a Moodle support community

Cannot really give an evaluation of RL for it is too soon. Just moving to them.

7. Has Remote Learner conducted any performance upgrades (moving to new releases) for
you? How would you evaluation their performance in this process?

Not really. On beta version only school on it. They do nightly updates. Everytime Moodle.org
they do fixes over night.

8. Have you had Remote Learner do any customization work for you? If so, could you
please describe what they did and your level of
satisfaction with the work and the price.

Not yet. Have talked about it but not there yet. Would not hesitate to ask. They believe that RL
will be happy to do. As far as turning on and off, they can do that at Lane. Have administrative
rights at Lane. 1 server admin, 2 faculty webmaster, and one other webmaster who will be back
in winter term.

Jeremy advised them to go with beta, Moodle 1.9

9. How would you evaluate their technical support services particularly
in regards to timeliness, competence and professionalism?

Highly professionalism. Very attuned to what they have been talking about and saying. Overall
satisfaction – too soon to tell. Work with Bryan Williams to solve this.



                                                                                                 26
10 .Do you plan to renew your contract with Remote Learner?
will reassess in Spring term. Will assess situation with IT Dept in spring.

One of first to use Moodle and big advocates of open source. Open education resources
modules. Fully support open-source community. Open Education Resource Modules. Trying to
inform faculty about creative commons copyright.

Matt Hightower <mhightow@cerrocoso.edu> 10/12/2007 12:22 PM
Director, Cerro Coso Online

1) 1. Why did you decide to use Remote Learner to manage Moodle for you?

 We've been using them for 4 years if I remember correctly. When we started, they may have
been the only advertised hosting service in the US. We have continued to use them because they
offer a service that is cheaper than we can realistically do it in house.

2) Do you use any other Learning Management Systems besides Moodle? Our District, but
not our college, uses ETUDES. We used, and still do in some cases, some templates that we
designed in Microsoft FrontPage.

3) How long have you been a Remote Learner customer 4 years, I believe.

4) What size of server do you have: level 1, 2, 3 or 4? I don't recall off-hand. They host a
server for our use only.

5) What is the total college FTE? Our college is about 3,500 FTES. Our district is something
under 20,000. Our college has about 2,700 students in our online program every semester.

6) What is your overall impression of Remote Learner?They've been reliable and prompt.

7) Has Remote Learner conducted any performance upgrades (moving to new releases) for
you? How would you evaluation their performance in this process?hey've updated to new
versions several times with no problem that I recall.

8) Have you had Remote Learner do any customization work for you? If so, could you
please describe what they did and your level of satisfaction with the work and the price.
They've done a little customization for us -- http://moodle.cerrocoso.edu,
http://moodle.bakersfieldcollege.edu, http://moodle.portervillecollege.edu -- mostly in terms of
branding. We use SCT Banner for our MIS and, at some point we will want to integrate it with
Moodle.

9) How would you evaluate their technical support services particularly
in regards to timeliness, competence and professionalism?
 So far, so good. We've had some glitches and they've researched and repaired promptly with
professionalism.

10) Do you plan to renew your contract with Remote Learner?
will reassess in Spring term. Will assess situation with IT Dept in spring. More than likely
we will renew until the point where we are able to host it ourselves. Because we would likely
have to hire an additional staff person for $70,000 or so, the service that they provide is easily
cost justified.


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