Amanda Hefner (Northside ISD) gave a tremendous presentation on Moodle organization and administration at the Texas Distance Learning Association (TxDLA) 2009 State Conference. It was worth the price of the conference to attend and listen to her–and the team of folks that showed up with her–share their organization of Moodle.
Here her slideshow…I seem to have misplaced the audio of her preso but will post it as soon as I locate it!
As I listened, I was struck by the following observations as I looked out at the audience while they listened to her:
The presentation was at a level beyond most of the folks in the audience. Simply, it was like giving a space shuttle to an agrarian society and expecting them to engage in space travel. I hope I’m not offending folks.
These folks were just starting out with Moodle, and while there was a lot of that in Amanda’s preso, I honestly think that some of the answers she provided were to questions folks hadn’t even thought to ask. I’d like to think that I was asking lots of the right questions, but there were just some points I wasn’t ready to ask (but I am now).
The NISD team had a system-wide approach to supporting Moodle. Often, Moodle implementations are the result of driven individuals that go out on a limb to bring the benefits of online course management to their organization without real support or understanding from others. This is a problem because people just don’t get it and the individual is left to implement a program that really requires LOTS MORE SYSTEMWIDE resources than originally imagined. At some point, you have to come back and ask, “How are we approaching this implementation now that we’re beyond the ‘proof of concept’ stage and have support?” I suppose, being strategic here is critical to future success. Amanda’s preso really speaks to this!
This was represented (for me) by this slide:
Note: Login into Parent411.nisd.net with “parent411” as username and password.
The Version level updates to Moodle (moving from 1.8 to 1.9.4 for example) suggestions Amanda gives were nice. It gave me a continuum to frame my learning. In my district, we are at the “Decent method” of upgrading…as others have counseled before, using the CVS is a better method. However, the method NISD is trying–and which was completely over my head, so I need to investigate that more–is the Moodle.NET (check slide 21).
Some neat tips that Amanda shared that I’m working on implementing in our moodle farm include the following:
- Using metacourses to establish libraries for shared resources
- Set separate groups for courses with multiple groups insidethe course…this allows you to run ONE course with MULTIPLE groups/classes of students. Saves on the backing up and restoring effort! This is exemplified by this slide:
Also included were some ways to enhance operations, which I’m not familiar with and will need to learn how to use:
- ModSecurity – open source firewall that detects and prevents attacks. Installed on Apache as a plugin
- ApacheTop – ApacheTop is a curses-based top-like display for Apache information, including requests per second, bytes per second, most popular URLs, etc.
- MySQLTuner.com – assists you with your MySQL configuration and make recommendations for increased performance and stability. Within seconds, it will display statistics about your MySQL installation and the areas where it can be improved.
- WebLoad.org – web site stress testing
- XCache PHP Accelerator – XCache is a fast, stable PHP opcode cacher that has been tested and is now running on production servers under high load.
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