Proposal for a Learning Management System

 

17 May 2011

PROPOSAL FOR PILOT MIGRATION TO MOODLE LMS

Introduction

Projected enrolment for January 2014 will see a forecast 15% increase to the LMS license fee and salary increase of $100,000 for technical support. These costs will not be recoverable from the projected 2014 fee income. There is a further risk of ongoing unrecoverable LMS costs in future years. The ICT Department has been requested to evaluate alternative LMS/ LCMS systems to source a more sustainable platform. Below are the Department’s findings, a recommendation for pilot migration to a Moodle LMS, and key issues for consideration if the recommendation is accepted.

Evaluation methodology

Stage 1: Internal Needs Assessment (survey of faculty and learners) identified ‘usability specifications’ for technology selection. Usability is a critical consideration for successful implementation (Emmons, 2006, p. 21).

Stage 2: Technology Selection Rubric evaluated four LMS/LCMS systems against administrative and user specifications. The rubric was developed on the basis of Bates and Poole’s (2003) SECTIONS model and literature samples of rubrics (Jarvis et al., 2011, Alexander et al, 2011).

Stage 3: Demo servers of the four LMS/LCMS systems tested.
http://demo.moodle.net/
http://atutor.ca/atutor/demo/index.php
http://www.blackboard.com/Platforms/Learn/Products/Blackboard-Learn/ANGEL-Edition.aspx
http://www.desire2learn.com/demos/

Technology Selection Rubric – Findings

Evaluation rubric

Recommendation

• Pilot migration of 50 courses to Moodle by end February 2012 and review outcomes by 30 June 2012.
• Depending on outcomes, choose to deploy Moode enterprise-wide by December 2013 and cancel the existing LMS license in January 2014, or pilot another LMS alternative.

Requirements for Moodle installation

According to http://docs.moodle.org, the infrastructure needed for Moodle is:
– Hardware: minimum 160MB hard disk and 1GB RAM for every 50 concurrent users.
– Operating system: Linux, Windows (WAMP), Solaris, Mac OS X or Netscape 6.
– Web server: Apache or IIS and PHP v4.3.0 for Moodle v1.9.x or PHP v5.2.8 for Moodle v2.0.
– Database software: MySQL, MSSQL, PostgresSQL or Oracle.

Allow for a medium-level server, but there may be additional costs for increased bandwidth if a high level of concurrent users (Emmons, 2006). The recurrent budget for 2012 will meet the costs of installation and pilot migration of 50 courses.

Institution-wide deployment for 900-1100 students will require two operating systems with 4 to 12GB of RAM, two web servers and two databases (http://www.edugeek.net). A capex allocation will be required for this infrastructure.

Key considerations for success

Chao (2008) reported Royal Roads University’s migration of 400 courses and 4400 users to Moodle in 2006-2007, with key lessons being:
– Time needed for system customisation as well as implementation
– Adopt just-in-time training for faculty (online tutorials)
– Provide resources, feedback channels and technical support for learners facing systems change
– Triple-fold increase in workload to convert courses. “Converting courses from one platform to another turned out to be much more than just copying and pasting content – it involved redefining processes and rethinking services.” (Chao, 2008, p. 3).

Conclusion

The evaluation rubric identified Moodle as the preferred LMS, server tests showed Moodle to be the most intuitive, and Moodle operates reliably in institutions globally. A pilot of Moodle will be a test-case on which to decide whether to adopt enterprise-wide migration in 2013.

[986 words, including rubric]

References

http://docs.moodle.org/20/en/Installing_Moodle

http://docs.moodle.org/20/en/User_site_capacities

http://www.edugeek.net/forums/virtual-learning-platforms/70042-moodle-server-specs.html

Alexander, S., Brochu, J., Buis, K., & Hall, C. (2011). Group Rubric Assignment: Delivery Platform Evaluation Rubric. Unpublished report. Retrieved from University of British Columbia WebCT/ Vista LMS.

Bates, A. W., & Poole, G. (2003). A framework for selecting and using technology. In A.W. Bates & G. Poole, Effective teaching with technology in higher education, pp. 75-108. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Chao, I. T. (2008). Moving to Moodle: reflections two years later. EDUCAUSE Quarterly. 31(3). Accessed online 6 June 2010 at: http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Quarterly/EDUCAUSEQuarterlyMagazineVolum/MovingtoMoodleReflectionsTwoYe/163101

Content Management System: Product Comparison. Accessed online 12 June 2006 at: http://www.edutools.info/compare.jsp?pj=4&i=580,624,627

Emmons, M. (2006). Moodle implementation as a course/content delivery technology in Leyden District 212. University of Illinois. Accessed online 6 June 2011 at: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:KrXQDLbww0cJ:students.ed.uiuc.edu/memmons2/DOCS/EPSY_474_EvaluationLeydenMoodle_Emmons.doc+server+specifications+for+M

Jarvis, E., Stackhouse, K., Brooks, P., Symonds, D., & Iorns, J. (2011). Group 3: Learning Management System Evaluation Rubric and Rationale. Unpublished report. Retrieved from University of British Columbia WebCT Vista LMS.

McMullin, B., & Munro, M. (2004). Moodle at DCU. Dublin City University.
Accessed online 6 June 2010 at: http://odtl.dcu.ie/wp/2004/odtl-2004-01.html

Panettieri, J. C. (2007). Addition by Subtraction. Retrieved online 20 May 2011 at: http://www.universitybusiness.com/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=845

Timmons, M. (2007). Moodle specification document for ModENet. Jigsaw Learning. Accessed online 9 June 2011 at: http://www.universitybusiness.com/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=584

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