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.
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…
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
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.
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.