Are we moving away from Moodle? A recap

On Friday, Nov. 16, our brown-bag discussion topic was Are We Moving Away from Moodle? The answer from Academic Technology Dean Ian Coronado was a qualified no… for now. If you weren’t able to make the discussion, here’s a quick recap of what was discussed (and you can access the slide presentation, as well).

A quick history of our Moodle

Our current Learning Management System is Moodle. However, it’s not quite that simple. Our version of Moodle is hosted through a company that used to be known as “Moodlerooms,” but was acquired by Blackboard several years ago. Moodlerooms provides not only hosting (a place for our online courses to live on their servers) but also some additional features and technology support for Moodle.

Recently, Blackboard/Moodlerooms and Moodle discontinued their business partnership. So far, there’s been no change in services for us except for a change in the LMS name: while we’re still using Moodle, it’s called “Blackboard Open LMS” for copyright/trademark reasons. This is why a few assignment types changed names earlier this term: The Moodlerooms Forum is now the Open Forum, for example.

Considering whether to consider change.

This abrupt transition has led to some questions about whether this might be a good time to reconsider our own relationship with Blackboard-formerly-Moodlerooms. There are several options if we want to discuss changes:

    • A hosting provider review. If we’re generally happy with Moodle and/or don’t want to engage in a major change project, we could review different vendors (like Blackboard) that would provide hosting and other services for Moodle.
    • An LMS review. This would be a process of looking at both our current learning management system and several entirely new candidates, which might also include reviewing hosting services.

Several institutions near us have made LMS changes in the last few years. Both UO and OSU have moved to Canvas (from Blackboard and Moodle, respectively). LMS reviews typically involve faculty, staff, and students engaging in a months-long process of evaluation. (Curious? You can learn more about the UO’s process in this Q&A).

Questions brought up by attending faculty and discussed at Friday’s brownbag included:

    • Does our current LMS serve students well? Does it serve faculty well?
      • Are the many options available to faculty/designers in Moodle outweighed by the potential for inconsistent and confusing design between courses?
    • Do we have the financial or administration backing to undertake an LMS review and potentially expensive new contract?
    • Are we ready to consider a full LMS review? If so, are we ready to consider an LMS change?

What happens now?

If you missed the talk, don’t worry — we didn’t (and we can’t!) make any decisions about this. This seems to be the start of a longer campus-wide conversation about the needs of students, faculty, and staff. Here are a few next steps:

    • Ian will present these questions to both Faculty Council and Learning Council.
    • Assuming continued interest, a review committee/workgroup will be formed.

We welcome comments and questions both here and on the Collaborative Document started at the Brown Bag discussion.

Stay tuned for further conversation!

 

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