Distance Learning Training and Resources for Educators

CCC Moodle Initiative

moodlelogoAs you all know the state is in a budget crisis and next fiscal year doesn’t look much better than this year. There is a very good chance the System Office will NOT be funding Blackboard for the Community College System after 2010. I have presented these issues (concerns) at the March Faculty Executive Committee meeting and it was requested that I set-up a committee of faculty to explore our options. Dr. Emory also wants us to present a plan to the Director’s in the near future. Please post your thoughts concerning Moodle and how CCC can prepare itself if Blackboard is is not funded by the System Office. We are looking at well over $20,000 to pay for Blackboard here at CCC and I don’t believe this will be possible considering the reversions we are being asked to make and our current (limited) budget.

Here are 2 links to my personal blog about my thoughts on Moodle and the training I received. I have been teaching on it for a year now just so I can be prepared to train our faculty. It is a good product but as you all know…there is a learning curve to any CMS.

To Moodle or Not to Moodle

Moodle Observations after Teaching on it

Please post and and all thoughts, ideas, comments concerning the Moodle issue to this Blog.

thanks! Patrick


Comments on: "CCC Moodle Initiative" (22)

  1. Heather Hebert said:

    With budget becoming a larger and larger concern, it is important we be proactive and look for less expensive options to Blackboard. I saw Moodle at the DL conference and do not think actually teaching online will be that much different. I think the discussion board may be even better and hope the gradebook is too as I am not that fond of the new one in BB. I am open to attending training sessions this summer.

    My concerns for switching are if something is free or much less expensive what support is available and how reliable is the platform? What happens to us if it fails or becomes unavailable for days, weeks, or months. Also faculty are already stretched very thinly with teaching, advising, program reviews, and committees that the practicality of moving everything from BB to Module is a huge hurdle. Heather Hebert

  2. Heather, I agree with you on all counts. I can tell you the System Office has put a great deal of expense and thought into the Moodle hosting issue and I can tell you from personal experience the technical support is excellent and would not be housed at CCC. It is with a group called Remote Learner. Every time I have had a technical issue or question they have responded in a very timely manner with a solution. As far as your other concerns – I am totally aware of how stretched we all are – with that said, if BB is not funded by the state I don’t see CCC coming up with the $25,000 – $30,000 to pay for the contract and license. We are going to have to be proactive and come up with a back-up plan and that is what I am asking our DL veterans to assist me with. I have created a Moodle Boot Camp and will be looking for volunteers to get trained this summer. Patrick

  3. Johnny Underwood said:

    I realize the benefits ( especially cost savings)are huge at this time- the migration issues and training issues are HUGE as well. I am for this transition if we do so with realistic expectations. I have worked some with Moodle and it really has some nice features, but building courses will take time. My concern is that with our heavy loads we will not be able to work this in gradually- it is a real change from the blackboard.

  4. Yes Johnny…there really isn’t an easy “magic bullet” solution on this issue. I am waiting to hear from Bill Randall at System Office concerning the latest on the BB vs. Moodle plans at the state level. I believe the more viable information we have the better our decision making will be as far as migrating to another CMS. Thanks for your feedback!

  5. James M. said:

    I may be but a lowly English adjunct, but you know where I stand — Moodle all the way! It’s simple (I’ve managed to set up my own server in about an hour, a class in an hour or two if I have all the documents), it’s cheap (the only cost has been the server at $350 and my time), and it works great. I’ve tried multiple systems to give my students the best online experience and this has proven the best so far.

    True, there will be a learning curve for some, but considering the benefits (see above) I see more positives than negatives. (Just an FYI, it’s my understanding there is a new and improved gradebook in the upcoming 1.9.5, so that should help many instructors.)

    Then that $20,000 can go toward something better … I don’t know, like hiring a lowly English adjunct for a full-time slot! 🙂

    Seriously though, any assistance you need, let me know!

  6. Thanks for the honest feedback James. I also must admit to liking Moodle very much and feel like it’s a viable and relatively user friendly CMS. The cost issue is certainly a no brainer – its just the time and cost of retraining faculty and migrating all our courses which is no easy task. Other college like Pitt and Wayne have taken the Moodle dive and if the budget crisis continues at the state level we are most likely NOT going to have a choice but to move to Moodle. I think now its just a matter of how we proceed with implementation, training and course migration. I will be calling on you to possibly help with some training this summer.

  7. Laurie Freshwater said:

    I have been aware of the UNC and NCCCS discussions regarding the implementation of Moodle for almost 3 years and have been indidrectly involved with the Moodle pilot at other schools. I have had some experience with both the instructor and student interfaces of Moodle. I think that if there is any degree of certainty that Moodle will replace Blackboard, which I believe there is, then we need to develop a timeline and comprehensive plan in order to provide instructors with training and as much time as possible to move courses to Moodle.

  8. agreed Laurie! I am waiting to here from Bill Randall System Office for some concrete information on when the BB contract runs out and if there is any chance they will renew it. I will be looking to this group to help me develop that time line for training and implementation.

  9. skip kemp said:

    regardless of the apparent tone, which written comments don’t convey properly, a friendly comment follows:
    I’m opposed to the Moodle transition, especially a sudden one, for practical reasons. If there was no free CMS the college would have to come up with the $25,000 for Blackboard, period. Just because it is free should not be the underlying or overriding reason for changing what we have been building for several years. The students should be considered in a potential transition because it will affect them more than professors. Sure, I know the Blackboard system because I use it every day and if I have to learn Moodle I’m sure my learning curve will be short. But students will have a learning curve as well and should be considered before dropping Blackboard cold turkey. Next, consider that there are many other free CMS options, not just Moodle; let’s don’t just rush into this without thorough study.

  10. And that is why we are having this conversation now Skip – as I mentioned in my e-mail. I feel like what you are saying is highly reflective of a good many if not all our CCC faculty. Right now I am gathering as much information as I can so we can explore all our options and make a good decision that is not detrimental to our faculty and students. I am absolutely not saying we must drop BB cold turkey – I would love for CCC and our Business dept. to budget to pay for it if the state doesn’t. I just don’t want to see CCC blindsided in 1-2 years and all of a sudden be told we can’t afford BB and have to scramble and get everyone trained on another cheaper “open source” CMS. I really appreciate your comments and feedback. This is what I need to hear and take back to Dr. Emory and the Director’s.

  11. James M. said:

    Mr. Kemp brings up some good points, especially about the learning curve of students. I’d like to touch on my experience thus far, not to verify Moodle’s “awesomeness” but to simply add my findings to the research the college is undertaking.

    I have used Moodle this semester in four “web enhanced” classes and other than a few minor hiccups that were my fault, it’s been smooth sailing. I’ve made it a point to ask students what they thought of it vs. Blackboard, and the response I’ve gotten is either a) it’s better or b) there’s not enough difference to have an opinion one way or the other — that is to say, both systems get the job done.

    Again, that’s by no means a scientific study. (Though I should have thought to ask for a federal grant … darn it, I’m always late to the good ideas!) Because these are web enhanced classes, I can still help students face to face if they have questions. Being computer literate helps because I can give them the simplest explanation on how to do something in Moodle, and I can design the course layout to be as clean and easy as possible. Not all instructors can or will be able to do that, regardless of the system — Blackboard, Moodle, Joomla, Google, DimDim, Skype or any other baby-noise-named service you find. (I mean, really, who comes up with these NAMES?)

    I agree that all options should be explored, and have no doubt Patrick and the team will find the answer that is right for students and teachers alike. Though I’m happy with Moodle, I continue to test new services because who knows what’s out there that may be better? I’m especially eyeing the Turnitin.com service because of its peer review system. Unfortunately, it looks a little pricey, at least for an individual, so no test run yet.

    Thanks for the forum. I think I’ve spent more than my two cents!

  12. Cathy Crowell said:

    I am concerned about reworking the 10 blackboard courses I have developed as far as the time involved. I understand that the cost is the issue, but I think Blackboard will have to make some concessions. We should wait and see what happens, but start training. Is moodle completely free or are there different levels of support? Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

  13. Thanks for the comments Cathy. Yes…it is all about the TIME we are all going to have to spend training and then migrating our courses. I can’t seem to get a straight answer from the system office about their plan as it relates to renewing the BB contract. I don’t think they truly know what they are going to do so with that said rings true. Hope for the best and plan for the worst. Well stated!

  14. I agree with everyone so far. I understand the cost issue and if we need to move to the Moodle platform then that’s what we have to do. We should start training now just in case. I remember your comments to me Patrick about the huge amount of time you said you had to devote to transferring a course over to Moodle from Blackboard and I definitely am not looking forward to that. Like Cathy and the photography program as a whole, I have a lot of classes that are either full internet classes or have some web assisted component. It has taken me years to develop everything I have online and to have to do it all again in a brand new platform is a daunting task. Count me in for the Moodle training.

  15. I am posting this for Mary Walton, Director of our Business Division – she sent it to me via e-mail and I am sharing it with you all. This really is a complex and monumental issue for faculty, students and CCC at large. I promise to weigh ever concern and option at our disposal before making any decisions as far as a course to take. I will also be asking all our college Directors to assist me in the decision making process as far as devising a viable back-up plan if Blackboard is no longer going to be an option for CCC due to budget constraints.

    this from Mary….

    1. A lot of our folks use content from publishers and none of them have content ready for Moodle
    2. When we decide to migrate over, we have to be careful that we don’t have students split between 2 platforms in the same semester.
    3. There will need to be extensive training up front for current students as well as faculty.
    4. I haven’t used Moodle, but from what I’ve heard, the structure that makes the use of blackboard so fluid is missing from Moodle

    That’s all I can think of right now. If I could just have some time at my desk instead of constantly in class or at meetings, that would help.

  16. Laurie Freshwater said:

    Most research I have seen reveals that students and instructors alike have no significant reasons for liking/disliking one CMS vs. another. The main concern here is time. In addition, we have to decide, as a college, whether the benefit of having that $25,000/ year for other expenses (perhaps technology) outweighs the disadvantages of migrating the courses to Moodle.

  17. Laurie Freshwater said:

    Most research I have seen reveals that students and instructors alike have no significant reasons for liking/disliking one CMS vs. another. The main concern here is time. In addition, we have to decide, as a college, whether the benefit of having that $25,000/ year for other expenses (perhaps technology) outweighs the disadvantages of migrating the courses to Moodle.

  18. I agree with Laurie. Students do not care about where they are taking the courses or what the CMS looks like. If they are trained appropriately, they will adapt. If they can jump from Twitter to Facebook to Myspace they can jump from BB to Moodle. And again the buzzword is “money” so I think Moodle is going to be in our vocabulary in the very near future.

  19. skip kemp said:

    My sincere apologies in advance; I got carried away…. :o) but since this is a lively discussion I’ll throw in a few more comments….

    I got thinking about logistics and timing… and then about cost.

    When does the contract with Bb renew and is it for a year at a time? You mention training this summer; does that mean implementation for Fall?
    If we knew the timeliness of this issue it would help make a decision about what CCC should do and how quickly. I don’t see how the state could refuse to renew Blackboard which would leave all colleges with online courses in the lurch to fend for themselves. maybe that’s naive… is it realistic or feasible that the state could just drop the contract and not renew? If they decided to not renew, when would they inform the colleges? If they do not renew, how long would CCC have to make a decision about the $25K?

    And what’s the real cost to CCC?
    Here’s one scenario:
    If it takes one full 8-hour uninterrupted day (unrealistic) of instructor’s time to properly and without errors migrate each course to Moodle at a rate of $25 per hour then it costs $25,000 to migrate 125 courses. I have 14 courses using the Blackboard, which could take 112 hours; just the 5 fall semester courses would take 40 hours away from other responsibilities; where am I gonna come up with that amount of time to do it?

    How many courses do we have at CCC total, including Web supported, Hybrid and full online courses? Do the math and I’ll bet the true cost to the college would be more than $25K to switch.

  20. ok here is where we are in the Moodle issue. I really appreciate the honest comments by all of you and yes Skip…it’s really important to do the math on this. Laurie reminded me before the Director’s meeting just how important and critical dl is to this college and it should be at a very HIGH budget priority. The light went off in my head and based an all of your comments I proposed we begin saving to pay for the Blackboard license for 2011 – 2013. We are talking a little more than $25,000. This is going to be the #1 plan to figure out how to come up with that $$ in the next 18 months. I feel confident that CCC will figure out a way to pay for this – with that said…as Cathy stated..”hope for the best and plan for the worst” we have BB until June 2011 – we have some breathing room here. I have proposed to Don that T3 assist us with a Moodle training initiative this summer just so we have some experiences “Moodlers” (is that a word) if some some reason we would have to regroup and switch CMS’s in the coming years. Again…thanks for all your great input on this issue. I’ll keep you all informed as I get information.

  21. Carla Williams said:

    Ther is a lot to consider- the learning curve to Moodle and most of all, the time!! Instructors would need time to transfer their courses. I was overwhelmed when first looking at Moodle, but think I have a handle on it now. I just need the time to work on it. I plan to spend some of the break migrating my Spring class over. I will let you know how it goes.

  22. […] wanted to establish a back-up plan for online courses and blackboard specifically so we initiated a Moodle training program (train the trainer) and over the past year we set-up a Moodle instance with Remote Learner funded […]

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