University of Strathclyde’s Ian Todd had never used Moodle. “I have logged into, though,” he cheerfully admits. For many reasons, he is an archetype of the Moodle user, and often the reluctant Moodle admin, for small organizations or those who still don’t know enough to be ready to invest in an LMS.
Todd does have an extensive background in systems administration, with almost two decade as an analyst and administrator for mainly open source systems. In his Glasgow talk last March, he revealed his benign, user-focused vision of an enterprise system, that “should always be available to the user, whenever the user requires it.” His personal definition is revealing of the attitudes he must have encountered when he was first involved in building a system for large organizations.
As someone who assumes the duty of making the best enterprise system possible, Todd’s first step is often to convince the leadership that users and their interactions must take the center stage. (His personal conspiracy theory seems to be that lack of attention to user experience complaints was the one thing that killed MySpace.) So even though he had not touched a Moodle system before, he was a Moodler at heart.
Todd’s talk is a lesson on the importance of reliability. 24/7 uptime can be the key attribute for steady growth in user adoption. He tries to bring his learning to the Moodle platform, but in a way that is free from some the assumptions veteran Moodlers tend to develop over the years. It might be just an anecdote, but the suggestion that Moodle could be greatly enhanced for users by using complementary services –he believes Twitter is a great way to handle user’s requests and complaints– does not always get positive responses. This makes user-first advocacy as step one all the more sensible.
Once the organization has bought in on his approach, he can try new technologies and practices, almost always for the users’ and the institution’s benefit. Which is not to say his procurement process is reckless or radically different from that of his peers. In fact, Todd would probably think of himself as a pragmatist. He openly prefers open source (“FREE!”) operating systems, the classic MySQL database engine, and –to answer for high-volume traffic– open source load balancing applications.
Todd is also a believer in automation and will remain open to trying new tools that would take care of as much of the grunt work as possible. Among others, he’s been lately into Ansible and Nagios. As long as the system is built modularly, flawed new ideas do not need to compromise the reliability of the whole platform. Among new great technologies, he sees Moodle as one of them. While interface enhancements are more evident for the majority of users, he attests to the continuous performance and architecture enhancements of the open source LMS in recent times.
This Moodle Practice related post is made possible by: eThink Education, a Certified Moodle Partner that provides a fully-managed Moodle experience including implementation, integration, cloud-hosting, and management services. To learn more about eThink, click here.