Playing with Moodle

I’ve been playing with Moodle for a few years now. I first installed Moodle 1,9 on my server and then tried creating a couple of courses, which turned out to be fairly painless. The courses I chose were based on my notes from teaching C in the 1990’s.

Fast forward to last year, when I tried updating to Moodle 2.0. All did not go well, as the “brains of moodle” decided to remove some packages from moodle, requiring the user to have them pre-installed on the server instead. I was able to find and install all but the zip file support. Without all packages, moodle would not install.

I eventually upgraded the server to a newer version of the OS, which had the zip package. Once that was done, installation of Moodle 2.0 was quite painless. Unfortunately, I lost the courses in the process.

This week I decided to try adding the courses again. The new moodle has a nicer look and feel, and much improved tools. It also has a pletora of options and choices, making some decisions much more difficult. Fortunately there is a really good help system that offers tips as you work, so deciding things like “page or lesson?” is reasonable.

In the end it took under 2 hours to create and fully populate my two courses (C I and C II) from my old MS word notes. There are some quirks (why do some list entries appear with shadow border and others without?) but all in all it was fun and I have my courses on-line again.

One reason for installing moodle on my server and playing with it has to do with Athabasca University using Moodle as it’s primary course delivery mechanism. It pays to know the tools, but you can’t just do anything with someone else’s servers. So building my own allows me full rein to play and learn.

One thing I did learn, albeit too late for my current course revision, is that it’s really easy to create curriculum pages in moodle.

At AU we have this blend of content – some on moodle, some in a thing called alfresco. Sadly, editing alfresco content remotely is nigh-on impossible. For the current course, I had to resort to having the alfresco content cut-and-pasted into MS word documents by local experts,  then emailed to me for editing, then cut and pasted back into the alfresco documents. Yikes, what a process!

As I said, I wish I’d known how easy it was to create “pages” for content in moodle, as I would have put all the content back into moodle (via pages) and erased the alfresco links. It would have changed a rough multi-week editing process into in a few days.

Live and learn.

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