We are in the process of deploying moodle this year and one of our professors who has used WebCT for large chats in his courses would like some feedback regarding using chat with a large number of students. Was it workable with 20ish students?
I have read Chat - "maximun" number of participants but was wondering if any additional faculty have anything they would be interested in saying about Moodle's chat functions?
We've been using the chat module with up to 55 students simultaneously, in multiple chat rooms. The students felt quite comfortable with the interface, and they really liked to see the other students' images next to their messages Also, Moodle's recently introduced group feature is extremely useful: We had our students chat in pre-assigned pairs and small groups (up to 5 students), which made their discussions much more productive and less frustrating, especially for the less computer-/chat-experienced students.
However, we did have problems -- and still do -- with students complaining about long reaction/response times and being kicked out of the chat rooms repeatedly and unpredictably. This may have been due to the sometimes slow (dial-up) connections the students were using (see also http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=7130) and to our somewhat weakish server. We're using Moodle on a simple webhosting account, not a shared or even dedicated server; nevertheless, the performance of "our" Moodle is very good -- except for the chat. We've tried to adjust the chat module's configuration, but with little success.
That's why we look forward to Moodle's new and supposedly much faster chat daemon, which will become part of the 1.4 release (hopefully by the end of August -- thanks, Martin
Hope this helps a bit
We're using Moodle on a webhosting account (no shell access), so my question is this: Will it be possible to run the backend daemon on a server other than the one on which Moodle is installed? Specifically, would it be possible to run the daemon on a "regular" workstation (Windows XP or Linux) with, say, http://www.apachefriends.org/en/ installed? I grabbed the new chat daemon from CVS, and it looks as this might work because you can specify your chat server's IP, etc.
Then, if it is possible to have Moodle and the chat daemon in these two different places, the "ideal" situation for us (and possibly anyone running Moodle on a webhosting account without shell access) would be to be able to specify the chat server at the course level or, even better, at the chat activity level (rather than for the entire Moodle site). This way, we'd be able to allocate the necessary resources as specifically as possible. For example, when you have a chat room that is used only occasionally by small numbers of students, you can stick to Moodle's "traditional" chat. On the other hand, if you know that large numbers of students will be accessing a particular chat room simultaneously, you can configure this chat activity to use the new chat daemon and make sure that the daemon is running during (announced) chat times at the given IP.
Do you think a feature like this would be useful? Quite honestly, I don't know if this is technically possible/feasible. Anyway, I'll set up the new daemon on my computer at home (using the ApacheForFriend's LAMPP) and try to "hook it up" with our Moodle installation. I'll let you know if/how it worked out
Your idea is very interesting. As for the time being I 'm working on making the chatd for the 1.4 release as good as possible, I can only answer that while it's certainly not recommended, you might be able to run chatd on another box by using this scheme:
1. Get and install Moodle and a webserver on your "chat" box.
2. Configure that copy of Moodle to use a database on another machine, namely the one your normal Moodle uses.
3. Run chatd. Once in loads up, it will talk to your normal Moodle database to commit chat messages etc etc.
What is the Max number of clients allowed? Is chat server can hold more than 100? Whats the maximum?