Part 1 – Idea to Reality
In this installment of “How we implemented Moodle” I will talk about a “Blended Learning Model of instruction“, “equipment” and touch on the word “sustainability” as it pertains to equipment.
As I mentioned in my preview post this Moodle implementation was guided by a grant which contained specific objectives, goals, budget outline, timeline, etc. Having a well thought out plan was tremendously helpful and allowed us to assess the implementation at the end.
The first thing done was choosing the right program to create a Blended Learning Model of instruction. Moodle was compared with other LMS and was found to be the best fit. I won’t go into deeper discussion about this decision because this type of implementation plan will work for most other LMS, with maybe a few differences in specifics. In later posts I will touch more on the Blended Learning Model of instruction but let’s move onto how we went from an idea to reality with hardware and equipment.
We decided that purchasing our own hardware (server) and housing it in our district was the best way to go. I was in charge of researching hosting options for Moodle. I looked into several types of off-site hosting options like Moodle Partners and another local company we use for our information systems. There are definitely benefits of those options like the ease of having someone else setup and maintain the physical server, software and dealing with any future problems.
The drawbacks were that we wouldn’t have full control over Moodle or the server. It would be more difficult (or not even possible) to customize and tweak Moodle how we wanted. The second drawback was that we would have to pay each year for hosting until we decided not to use Moodle anymore and not using Moodle anymore was obviously not in our plan! Sure, purchasing the hardware for a server is a lot of money up front, but after years of paying an off-site hosting company it will eventually even out and when that time comes you don’t even own the server, you will still have to pay the hosting company! Also, in our situation the funds for the grant were gone in 2 years and it would be difficult to sustain that type of model. As I mentioned before sustainability was part (a very important part at that) of our goal.
I highly suggest a district to purchase their own server. Of course, each district is in their unique situation and has to weigh their options. Our district, being pretty large (20,000+ students), having sustainability an important goal in the grant and having the funds at the time made our decision easy to purchase a server. We purchased a fairly robust server knowing that we will need this server to handle continued growth. I know purchasing a server for Moodle will not always be an easy option for districts but keep in mind the long term implications before making any quick decisions based on up front costs.
- Having a well thought out plan with objectives and goals gives you a nice guide along the way and allows you to assess the implementation.
- Make “sustainability” key. One thing I have learned is that staff hate having a tool and then it be taken away after they spent a lot of time and energy on it. In every training we told staff “Moodle will NOT go away. The software is free and we have already purchased a server for it to run on. The only way Moodle will ‘go away’ is if no one uses it.” This will reassure staff that they are not wasting their time creating something that could be taken away and Moodle does take a lot of up front time.
- When deciding to purchase a server verse off-site hosting think long term.
Next on “How we implemented Moodle” – Installation and Modules