Part 2 – Installation and Modules
In this installment I will discuss the process of installing Moodle and some modules you may want to install from the start.
Before installation I researched the best type of hardware and software to use. After reading documentation on Moodle Docs and looking through the Moodle Forums it was clear that the LAMP configuration was the way to go. Since our district had no other Linux servers it took a bit of convincing to use something other than Windows but after our network guy searched the web he came to the same conclusion we did. Even if your network staff doesn’t have a lot of knowledge of Linux (like ours at the time) I think it’s still a good idea to use a distribution of Linux because (1.) once you have Moodle up and running there are rarely (if ever) issues and (2.) there is a lot more documentation online for Linux vs Windows or Mac. Documentation meaning help if you run into a problem or documentation on performing tasks like tweaking settings.
For the actual setup of the server and Moodle installation we hired a consultant. I will not go into detail about the installation but one thing I will mention is the importance of user authentication, creation and management. Our district uses Active Directory so we used LDAP to connect and use Active Directory for Moodle user authentication and creation. I highly recommend using whatever information system you already have in your district instead of creating local Moodle users. It is so beneficial to use a system like Active Directory because there is only one spot to manage users and Moodle will reflect those changes (ie. last name change). Moodle can also pull information from your information system like building location, position, email address and anything else that you have in those fields. The other key benefit is that users will not have to remember another username and password. You have no idea how grateful staff are when we tell them “your username and password are the same as your network login and always will be.” You will get many “thank you, thank you, thank you!!” responses.
So, you have Moodle all set up – now what? We used Moodle pretty much “out-of-the-box” for awhile because we had to get started with trainings and I did not get ‘back-end’ type access for a long time. I was also not aware of the “I wish I would have knowns”. But I do now and here are some!
Book is a great resource that makes it easy to create multi-page resources with a book-like format. You edit content like you would in a “Compose a Web Page” resource but it allows you to make several pages and it creates an outline on the left which can have indented or “sub” chapters.
Questionnaire is an activity that allows you to create advanced surveys. Moodle has the “Choice” activity which is in the core but it only allows you to have one question. With Questionnaire you can create some pretty nice surveys with several different question types.
Another tip is if you are or will be using Google Apps for Education. There is an SSO plugin for Google Apps which uses Moodle’s authentication. I’m not going to go into specifics but if you will be using both I recommend setting up the SSO plugin part during installation. That way, you won’t have to deal with issues for users when implementing Google Apps after Moodle implementation and you can integrate Google Apps into your training. For example, teach users to use a Google Doc URL instead of uploading a file to Moodle. Why? Because it skips the upload step and it allows the user to edit the file without having to delete the file on Moodle and then re-upload it. We chose to use Google Apps after implementation, so unfortunately we could not do this.
- The LAMP configuration is highly recommended for a reason. Check out Moodle Docs and the Moodle forums!
- User authentication and creation is very important. If possible look into using your current information systems.
- Look through the Moodle modules and plugins and install them when installing Moodle, so you can train staff from the start.
Next time on “How we implemented Moodle” – Customization