Tag : moodle


Joomla, Moodle, and Jomsocial

I have a new vision and in the coming weeks we will be talking with teachers, parents, and students to get their feedback.  This new vision will COMPLETELY change the way we communicate in the district online.  I plan to offer a robust and dynamic social network for staff, students, and parents that is fully integrated with our online learning software Moodle.

The vision is to have a portal that when the user logs in they are taken to their profile page similarly to Facebook.  From this page they can interact with others, join/create learning groups, post status/homework updates, and engage in other social interactions such as photo and video sharing.  They will also have access to a page that provides them with an overview of what courses they are teaching as well as what courses they are enrolled in.  It will even present them with upcoming events and assignments from Moodle on the Joomla profile page.

I think I can accomplish this using Joomla and Jomsocial with a plugin to handle logins and single sign on.  I think this could have the potential to really improve the usefulness and ease of use for teachers.  They would have a public profile which is directly integrated with online learning via Moodle.  When the teacher adds an activity on Moodle, their Joomla profile would automatically be updated.  Students would have instant portfolios via Joomla and much more.

Categories: DPS Website

Moodle 2.0 Upgrade Underway

I am in the process of actually performing the Moodle 1.9 to 2.0.3 update.  It is at the part where it is importing and converting all the courses to the new format.  We also moved our Moodle install onto a 64bit Ubuntu box.   So far so good with the upgrade.  It is on course 82 of 647!

The one thing I did not do was activate any of our non-standard plugins.  I am going to let the update perform it’s job and then I am going to install the modules.  This time around I am going to try and keep the extra plugins to a minimum.

183 of 647 converted…

I am really hopeful that this upgrade goes smoothly and successfully.  I don’t want to have to bring in each course individually using Moodle 2.1 when it is released later this month.

230 of 647 converted…

Categories: DPS Website

Real Time Document Collaboration in Moodle

I just found this great module for Moodle which allows you to add “Google Docs” like functionality to Moodle courses.  It’s called Assignment Type: Collaborative real-time editor.  It has some basic text editing capabilities and seems to work quite well.  You can assign groups to edit/create a common document.  As one student is typing, all the other students can see the words appear as well in real time just like Google Docs.  The nice thing about this is that you get the functionality of Google Docs without having to get a google account which is nice for young kids or a K12 environment.  We have it running on our Moodle setup!

Here is the link:  http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?d=13&rid=4621

Categories: DPS Website

Complete Open Source K12 School District Portal Update

In recent months we have really made progress in our development of a complete, robust, and feature rich K12 School District Portal using open source projects.  Here is what we have so far:

I am beginning to wonder if we had to pay for each of these services what it would cost?  I know Blackboard is not cheap and video conferencing can cost some money as well.  I think what I like most about open source software is the connection you have to the projects.  You get to be intimately involved because you get to hack and work on the code as well as contribute to the common good by identifying and fixing bugs.  Some things like web conferencing are over my head, but others like Moodle and WordPress I have actually solved some problems.   There is also the freedom with open source to make it work for your organization and customize it to behave how you want it to.

Categories: DPS Website

Holy Cow – MySql Database Size with Moodle

I think I may have pinpointed the exact cause of our slow and sluggish Moodle server.  There is a setting for how you want Moodle to store user session information.  Recommended value is store to disk.  They say with storing this info in the database that it would be ideal as you are not writing/reading  to the disk.  Well, my Moodle database grew from 395 MB to well over 3gig in a matter of months!!!  Everytime a student would log in, MySQL would labor through a sessions table over 3gigs in size.

I returned storing session info to the default setting and I am going to wait and see if there are any speed improvements.

We are in the process of moving our moodle to a new 64 bit server.  That is going to happen soon and then at that point I will move the database off to a new server and split the data and moodle application.  This should give us the performance boost needed for the teachers who are using Moodle more and more as just part of how they teach.

Fingers crossed that this fix will last us until I can move to the new servers.

Categories: DPS Website

Mahara is Super Cool

In my previous post I mentioned that our students and teachers didn’t quite get the purpose of Mahara when we were using it a couple of years ago.  It didn’t quite catch on because it was very “step” intensive.  Meaning that in order to create a view or upload files etc, there were a few steps a user would have to do in order to make a view.  It wasn’t intuitive to the students and staff and they felt lost using it.  That’s when we switched to a special version or WordPress for creating websites by students.

Well, I just signed up for the demo site at Mahara and I am completely blown away with how far they have come since we were last using it.  In fact, I am so impressed I am going to install it again today and play with it over the weekend.   The interface and user controls have been totally redesigned.  It seems like some of the clunkiness of the initial versions we were using have been totally re-worked and fixed.

I am giving Mahara a very good look since Moodle 2.0 is right around the corner.  With the Mahoodle setup I think students and staff will appreciate the added features that Mahara provides.


Categories: DPS Website

K-12 Open Source District Web Portal

I am looking for new suggestions for creating an open source k-12 District Web Portal.  I think I may have a complete platform that drives our portal, but maybe someone out there has a suggestion that would help improve upon what we already have.  I know there are  eLearning apps other Moodle.  We  have dabbled with some.  I know there are other website creation tools other than WordPress and we have tried those too.  I am hoping someone might have a good suggestion for creating something similar to wikispaces.  Our teachers would like to work with students in a private wiki setting similar to wikispaces.

Here is what we have so far:

District Website: Joomla with a variety of plugins for everything from video sharing to document sharing.  All tied to District LDAP accounts for easy access for teachers and students.

School Websites: Mindtouch Wiki.  LDAP logins and very quick and easy editing of pages.

Teacher Website Options:

  • WordPress Multisite: LDAP logins,  Buddypress, BigBlueButton Web Conferencing, Photo Galleries, Translations,  eMail Newsletters, Webcam Recording via Kaltura Community Edition Server, and many other plugins and themes for staff.   Teachers can create up to 7 different blogs.
  • Moodle: LDAP Logins, BigBlueButton Web Conferencing and a variety of other plugins.

Student Website Options:

  • WordPress Multisite: Almost same setup as teachers, but each website created by students is protected and not available to the public unless requested by the teacher.

District Wide Web Technology:

  • Big Blue Button Web Conferencing: Allows each teacher to create multiple online meeting rooms via their classroom website or eLearning course.  Each meeting room has audio, video, document sharing, whiteboard functionality, chat, and desktop sharing.
  • Flash Communication Server: Utilized to stream special events from schools and the district cable tv channel to the website.
  • Kaltura Video Server: The Community Edition allows each classroom website to record and embed in a page video from a webcam.

Categories: DPS Website

APC Saved our Online Learning Portal

This year more than any other year, our online Moodle website iLearn was overwhelmed with traffic and use by teachers and students.  The server was running at 100% when more than 4-5 classes were taking quizzes.   This made for a bad experience for end users because the pages took a long time to load.  It would also take forever just to login during these times.

I installed  APC PHP accelerator on the server and now it barely goes aboe 50% utilization.  With such a great performance boost that APC provides, I am considering installing this on all of our servers.  I am still monitoring the server stats, but since yesterday utilization is way down and the pages seem to load very fast.

Categories: DPS Website

Advanced Moodle and Open Source Web Development

13TH Annual Educational Technology Leadership Conference
June 21-22, 2010
Thurston High School, Redford

Advanced Moodle and Open Source Web Development

Chris Kenniburg, Dearborn Public Schools – kennibc@dearbornschools.org

Learn how Dearborn Schools has integrated Moodle and other open source applications to create a suite of student centered web enabled tools.  Some topics that will be covered: single sign-on via LDAP, video integration and steps that are being taken to incorporate Google Apps into Moodle use.  Software covered will include Kaltura Video editing, PHPMotion Video Sharing, WordPress Multi User + BuddyPress, Mindtouch Wiki, and BigBlueButton web conferencing.


Joomla – http://joomla.org

Moodle – http://moodle.org

PHPMotion – http://phpmotion.com

Kaltura Video – http://kaltura.org

BigBlueButton – http://www.bigbluebutton.org/

WordPress 3.0 – http://wordpress.org

Buddypress – http://buddypress.org

Mindtouch Wiki – http://www.mindtouch.com/

Dearborn Public Schools Web Links:

Website of Chris Kenniburg – http://blog.dearbornschools.org/webmaster

Dearborn Public Schools – http://dearbornschools.org

D-Tube Video Sharing – http://video.dearbornschools.org

Kaltura Example –


Teacher Website Portal – http://blog.dearbornschools.org

Complete eLearning Web Platform using Open Source:


Come see me at the conference!

Download the Presentation Resource Sheet

Advanced Moodle and Open Source Web Development

Categories: DPS Website