At least it's well paid for, otherwise it would be a 'cheap' problem
"The more I learn about Blackborad, the more I love my Moodle."
-- Art Lader
Do I have the permission to use your wise words tomorow night, speaking to Ilses headmaster ?
It's almost poetry. Put is on a T-shirt.
It's stolen from Dorothy Parker's "The more I learn about men, the more I like my dog."
I've just discovered, for example, that this very Enterprise server I use for this site is subject to a strange Cpanel bug (possibly hardware related) that causes memory usage to spin out of control once a day. It's not obvious what is causing it, but MySQL seems to be stalling. Lots of customers at my datacenter are apparently having the same problem and the techs are mystified ... I've added another 1Gb of RAM to alleviate the problem until a fix is found.
BUT... This has been going on so long now and has become so annoying that my professors are beginning to avoid using BlackBoard. They post a syllabus and forum and that's about it. After that, it's mostly e-mail and instant messaging. How 1999 can you get?
And I, as a student at USC and a a taxpayer in South Carolina, sort of resent the money they are spending on Blackboard. I believe there are about 25,000 students in our system. I'll bet you would provide a superior service for less than Blackboard's price.
On the other hand, a little Schadenfreude now and again is good for the soul.
-- Art Lader
- The really good instructors are just livid over trying to use a system that is slow, unrealiable, lacking in many basic features, and extememely cumbersome to navigate.
- The really good instructors are doing what you describe - posting just the basics on our college LMS and including a link to the REAL site. In some cases that site is one of the free ones offered by the book publishers for faculty who have adopted their texts. In other cases it is just a home-grown web page with some important links.
- One really good instructor had enough of the whole thing (guess who ) and turned "renegade" and setup his own Moodle site so he could actually teach online.
- The mediocre or poor instructors never overworked themselves when they taught in the classroom, so their way of "doing business" fits into the limitations of the LMS very well (post a syllabus, assignment sheet, and collect some mickey mouse reports or projects during the term). They are actually happy with the LMS system! Their opinion has hindered ditching the thing for something that works.
Fortunately, there has finally been enough complaining done by those of us who are really good instructors to prompt a consulting company to be hired to work with the faculty independent of both the LMS company and our IT department in an attempt to clearly identify what needs fixed and plan ways to fix it. Now, I sure don't like the idea of hiring consultants, but because of other LMS problems, there are bunches of other consultants here anyway (one consultant suggested a couple of months ago that we add 1GB of memory to the server - gee, I could have told them to try that - for free !).
We as a faculty have our first private meeting with the consultants on Wednesday, 02-25-2004. Hmmm... I think Martin is coming to the states that week - wonder if we can get him to attend ?
Not only is it great to have Moodle as a great LMS, it is also great to have moodle.org as place to, well ..... complain! By the way, what does Schadenfreude mean?
Check this link,
Definition of "Schadenfreude"
Hope you don't feel this way toward Moodle consultants. I am trying to gather information from teachers on exactly the things you discuss regarding problems with other LMS's, so that I have an argument the decision maker understands for going with Moodle. Any further tips you can offer will be appreciated. And any other Moodlers that can offer tips, especially those in secondary-ed in the US, would be much appreciated. I may be representing Moodle.com in the Mid-Atlantic area, once a few details are worked out.
We started using it this academic year and it has just been a nightmare. Immediate performance issues became apparent - the thing was for all intents and purposes down for the first two weeks of school in the fall! We struggled through the rest of the semester with horrible performance (often 1-2 minute response times for a page refresh, for example) which only compounded the fact that Jenzabar took away many features we had in WebCT. One example - student tracking -NONE! We have no way to know when or even if a student got into our LMS!
What started happening is our college started hiring consultants to try and get this thing at least workable. What started out as an attempt to save money has, I suspect, turned into a huge financial black hole. Several of the faculty members in my division actually went and complained to the president of the college recently and that is what has prompted the hiring of the consultants I mentioned in my earlier post. The consultants that we (faculty) are going to meet with are an independent group with no ties to any LMS or our college. Their purpose is to hear our side of what is going on and make possible recommendations.
Would I tell the consultants to go with Moodle? I am going to suggest it, but I suspect it will never fly here - many reasons but none I want to go into here.
The only good thing that came about from all of this is that it led me to Moodle . I had enough of Jenzabar early in the fall semester and ran most of my online course on my own phpBB site. I started looking at open source potential solutions and had no idea that anything the caliber of Moodle was available (I was actually going to try to teach school this current semester with my own postnuke site before I found Moodle ).
It is all the more wrenching to now realize how good Moodle really is and to think that our school was too ?whatever? to at least consider Moodle. If your goal is to save money on an LMS, it doesn't get any better than Moodle. And, in the final irony, not only is it free, but Moodle (IMO) can compete head-to-head with any LMS, commercial or otherwise.
I could write on this topic for days, so I had better stop lest I use up all of the disk space on moodle.org .
It is so nice to have a place to vent
And the venting I see in this community seems to be healthy and constructive to me. I once posted a question to the PHP Nuke community about whether or not the software was really secure and unleashed several days of flaming and mean-spirited "venting." The bottom line was that I was an evil bastard for even asking, was too stupid to live, and probably did not wash my hands after going to the toilet. It was amazing! I have never seen anything even remotely like that here. Just a harmless little rant now and again.
In the Interest of Full Disclosure: I did post one screenshot of my school's very weird Internet filter blocking a Moodle site (because of purported pornographic content, haha) and upset a fellow Moodler. I thought it was funny, but he did not. He sent me a pretty terse e-mail about it and I sent him back my sincere apology. When I went back to delete my post, it was already gone, so I guess that it might have all been a dream, anyway.
It is so nice not to see that kind of thing at moodle.org where good manners are the rule, not the exception. It is even a neat cross-cultural learning tool for people like me who rarely cross the borders of Ohio. It is very interesting to see posts from people from all over the world and learn a little about their culture/govenment/politics/younameit in the process. I have even been learning more about what the weather is like in other countries!
Yes, this really is a wonderful community. I guess it has a lot to do with stewardship and with the values of the most active members of the community. I am really quite grateful to be part of it.
And I hope that you are successful in Moodlizing your school. To quote a great American: "May the Schwarz be with you!"
-- Art Lader
Take a few deep breaths and in the words of Sidney, the shrink on MASH; "take my advice, pull down your pants and slide on the ice." As a consultant for the past 23 years, let me offer you a few pointers for the meeting which is planned.
1. Realize you are holding the aces in this meeting since you are the customer. Capitalize on this fact by giving the impression that your input will weigh-in heavily with the decision makers. This should be subtle, tell your peers to put on their best poker faces during this meeting and select the best card players to do most of the talking. Business people can be intimidated by academics, largely because they are far more educated. Take advantage of this fact, but only to the point of making them pay attention.
2. State the problems with the existing LMS, without rant, and then state what you need from an LMS (all of Moodle's features, including new stuff - without actually mentioning Moodle).
3. Have them explain their position on open source. If they are against it, have them defend this position. Let them talk, don't try to argue your position (read poker players begin to project doubtful looks at consultants).
4. Explain that you are looking for an LMS that supports a "constructionist" framework, as this is the next big thing with educators who maintain online classes. Ask them if they know what this means (have all poker players nod with graven looks on their faces if the answer is not correct).
5. Suggest they review a few solutions and come back to you in say 2 weeks with ideas. They are to do this before reporting to anyone else on campus, as you are the lead team on this project. If Moodle is not on their list when they report back, ask them why it was not evaluated. Explain that a number of your colleagues do know about Moodle and would like it reviewed (reinforce social constructionist framework). Tell them to do this and report back to you.
You want to maintain control over this process, even if you don't have many chips in your pile. This is called the bluff, and is how much of business is conducted (appearance over substance). Your task is to spin the argument in favor of Moodle because of its educational ideology (not shared by other LMS's). Anger and rant will only embolden the consultant to do what they do, that is, sell you more expensive consulting time because the problem is sooooo complicated.
The truth is, the wonks on campus that hired these folks are busy and may in fact let you and your peers take the lead, if you act like you are in charge and your peers are united. This process may take a few months to complete, but is time well spent if the effort goes your way. Your pile of chips will be vastly increased.
Hope this isn't too presumptuous,
I think the point is that Managers do not trust free stuff....
So, maybe You should sell them Moodle + support as a package-deal for a high price.
Moodle + 500 hours free support for the price of 500 hours support?
Black board has its place and so does moodle. I do like the idea of paying for support of moodle for those schools that need the support, and I think but not sure that is what moodle.com is all about. At any rate, we are passionate about moodle because we all feel part of something bigger then php scripts and a sql database, and for that we have Martin and the developers to thank. But let us not loose sight that on the other side of the fence is a team for Black Boarders that feel the same way about there development, we are just smarter then they are is all Just kidding
I think not! Moodle is free under GNU, and that won't change unless Martin has a change of heart. There are people willing to pay for teacher/staff training, course development services, hosting options and technical support. This is the way of open source. Red Hat and others have proven this model works. In fact, Red Hat is discontinuing its commercial software effective April 30, 2004. Everything is migrating to free Fedora Core and Red Hat will become a pure services company.
Moodle open source is a win-win-win solution. Organizations can control their budgets because they don't have to buy and maintain expensive software, and can set the number of hours for which they will contract services each year. Service contractors don't have to push expensive and frequent upgrades, or apologize for why certain features aren't available. If the customer wants something special and is willing to pay, a skilled PHP Moodle developer can make it happen and will benefit by getting some work. And finally, teachers and students get a powerful intuitive solution for online coursework. I only wish the rest of the world would dump macro economics, in favor of something like open source living.
Only a joke, only a joke,
By the way, doesn.t GNU mean that even Martin can take it back?
(But he or others, for example BB can start tomorrow a 100% legal, new improved fork under a different license, even payed.)
Yes, I've wondered about that myself. It is the "dark side" of open source. That is, the virtual graveyards are full of great open source projects that were abandoned by their authors or core developers. Sometimes this may happen because there's lack of interest, or maybe the developer takes it proprietary in a slightly altered way. This is the price one pays when hitching their wagon to open source.
I don't think the problems are any different with commecial software. I have a bookshelf stacked with books and software boxes from companies that no longer exist, which I spent a bloody fortune on. Our grace will come from bringing more competent developers into the Moodle fold like Will, Gustav, Zig and others. I think Martin has found a good balance between his open source contribution, and his need to provide for his family. We will have GNU Moodle for some time to come I'm sure. That's my 2 cents worth!
"Don't use open source software, its just not robust enough".
Of course, the type of idiots (who sometimes seem to call themselves "Hackers") who consider themselves experts and just exist to slag users off don't help much. As has been said, damn good thing they don't frequent the Moodle site.
Working on a solution set for instructors who currently use blackboard to migrate over to using Moodle.
Would appreciate any and all comments on likely problem areas, especially for such instructors as those who use Bb for the basics, their likely problem areas, and possibly possible interventions (perfmance aids, training, orientation, etc.) that would likely remedy those individual difficulties.
Liked y'r message about Blackboard and Moodle. Was wondering whether the independent "consulting company" has done a findings and recommendations report that can be given out. I am especially interested in the needs analysis, as I and 3 others are doing a similar project as a class project. I would like to show such results as part of the background statement by referring to similar projects at other universities.
However, at the install sizes of some of our larger schools, (say around 40k students) it doesn't seem possible to get enough hardware to keep BB (and MSSQL, IIS, Tomcat, etc.) at more than ~90% uptime.
This is where (IMO) the ability of LAMP apps like Moodle to run on a cluster of machines shines.
Some of our campusses have tried the BB hosted version, where BB hosts and runs a 'cluster' for you, but that service has proven less stable than self hosting on the most expensive x86 hardware you can buy, as they seem a bit slow on adding new boxs when needed, and not quite sure how to get it to work when they do get around to adding a new box.
Ahh the well marketed joys of paying (alot!) for a commercial license so you can complain about the lack of support!
Our system has been down since Monday, 03-01-2004. As the picture shows, they are hoping for Wednesday, 03-03-2004 (sure ). I am sooooooo glad I jumped ship and went to Moodle on my own host. I truly feel sorry for other faculty members who attempt to teach with this thing.
It would not be so bad when it went down if it had some value when it came back up, but such is not the case. I think we may be better off (if we can't use Moodle) to just forget the whole thing and use the U.S. Mail system instead (not entirely a joke ).
If one of these VLE systems cannot fulfill the promisses, it hurts us all.. loosing hesitating teachers again for years, like we did in the first PC-hype in the 80s, so if you laugh the next time when..
This problem was a constant with BB at Indiana Wesleyan University, the University of South Florida and University of Central Florida. We have three universities with student populations of dramatic size differences, using very different hardware systems. The only constant was BB.
Same old song (apologies to Paul Simon)...