Gone Moodle: An interview with Clarence Maise of Western Nevada College

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Recently Clarence Maise and Western Nevada College took a well-informed leap of faith in adopting their new LMS, Joule 2 provided by Moodlerooms.  While many other higher education institutions have hesitated to adopt the underlying Moodle 2.0 technology, Clarence and his team were eager to adopt the best possible after piloting several versions and while they may have dealt with a few bugs early on have grown to love their new LMS.

WIRIS

I had a chance to ask Clarence, Distance Education Coordinator, a few questions about going Moodle via email, you can see our exchange below.

What spurred your move from another LMS to Moodle/Joule?

We began our search for a new LMS in the fall of 2010. It became evident that we did not have a lot of choices. The cost of Blackboard 9 licensing, hardware and administration were more that we could budget. Our faculty was unhappy with WebCT CE 8 and wanted a LMS that was easier to use and had many add-ins like ePortfolios and synchronous teaching tools. The fact that CE 8 was to be phased out by Blackboard in the near future was also a driving force in this process.

What process did you use for reviewing the available platforms on the market?

We put together a LMS review sub-committee of our distance education committee and began the process of reviewing our LMS choices. We did look at Blackboard 9 and built a several sample courses but faculty found the platform clunky and overly complex.

Then we spent several months working with Moodle. The entire faculty was given a sandbox to play with in Moodle 1.9. I did live information sessions and several webinars to give everyone a chance to ask questions about Moodle and to understand our upcoming migration. The response was 100% positive.

The next step in the process was our spring term Moodle pilot. We chose 4 courses migrated these to Moodle and ran the courses during the spring term with 175 students. This was a great pilot we had zero problems, no technical problems with Moodle 1.9 and the students had little difficulty using Moodle compared to WebCT. Many students had courses in both platforms at the same time and said that they preferred Moodle “Because it was easier to use”.

Why Moodlerooms and Joule?

After looking at all our options we decided on Moodlerooms for our hosting vendor to help us with our Moodle migration and to supply Moodle hosting
over the long-term. Our faculty liked the many features of Moodle Joule 2.0 as well as the overall Moodle Joule interface.

We are using the full range of features that Moodlerooms had available for Joule 2.0 this includes Joule Synchronous, Joule Social, eFolio, and many of the plugins supported by Moodlerooms. We are doing of all this at a about one-third of what we would have been paying for Blackboard 9.1.

We chose to go straight to Moodle Joule 2.0 which on Monday the 6th of June will be Moodle Joule 2.1. Many schools are still using Moodle Joule 1.9. We had to work through a few bugs in Moodle 2.0 but the benefits far outweigh any issues with Moodle 2.0. It has features and a workflow that are more user-friendly than the older Moodle 1.9 and much improved administrator interface.

When do you officially go live?

We have been running Moodle Joule 2.0 for three months now and will run our summer courses on Moodle. The WebCT server will be officially shutdown on June 30th.

Here is the link to the Western Nevada College training and development blog for WNC Online: http://wnctraining.org.  Check out the Moodle site here: http://wnc.mrooms3.net/.