Moodle server change served up frustration

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Photo credit/ Thomas Cunningham

Jaye Cannon, Correspondent

January’s Marywood Moodle upgrade and server change caused problems for faculty and students alike.

Although Marywood has been using Moodle since the mid- 2000’s, the issue arose when Marywood switched Moodle to a new server.

Particularly at the start of the semester, the Office of Informa- tion Technology (OIT) was flooded with students and faculty who needed help with a variety of problems.

Faculty had issues accessing their files on the old server. Dr. Shirley Samson, an assistant pro- fessor of psychology and counsel- ing, experienced this first-hand.

According to Samson, faculty only are able to access files for classes that they are currently teaching.

“I don’t actually have access to the stuff I taught in the fall,” Samson said.

Students like Kim Batzel, senior psychology major, had issues that have since been resolved. She, along with other students, had problems uploading files.

“I [tried] to put attachments into the designated fields on a particular forum, it [didn’t] regis- ter,” said Batzel.

Batzel also had trouble logging into the new Moodle, not realiz- ing that the passwords changed to the ones students use for their email. Once realizing this, Batzel said that she was glad that she no longer had to remember two passwords.

Margaret Matthias and Kevin Vogrin, instructional designers for OIT , were heavily involved with the migration. Matthias said that the number of people affected was higher than they would have liked. She estimated that pos- sibly 25 to 30 percent of users were affected.

Vogrin said that about 80 percent of the problems are now fixed, while they are still working to fix the rest of them Vogrin add- ed that there have not been any new problems that he knows of.

As with any new system, he said, it takes some getting used to.

“Most of the issues were just a one-time thing…But once you fig- ure that out, you’re good for the rest of the time that you’re here to use it,” Vogrin said.

The new system added many helpful features for users. For example, Lightbox Gallery will be used for uploading images and Turnitin.com is now integrated. So professors can check a paper for plagiarism more easily. BigBlueButton will be used for recording and uploading videos.

When students register for classes, they will automatically be enrolled in the corresponding Moodle course. Previously, stu- dents had to enroll themselves. Matthias and Vogrin explained

that a lot of the problems came about because academic com- puting has integrated with the registrar’s office. Matthias said that academic computing servic- es has never worked so closely with the registrar before and there was a lot to learn.

As for the old Moodle server, it is still being used for non-credited courses. Or- ganizations, clubs, search committees, and internships will make use of the site, ac- cording to Vogrin.

“It’s a new system, every- thing is fresh. You’re not going to get everything right the first time no matter how much you plan ,” Vogrin said.

“Once it’s smooth everybody’s going to love it,” Matthias added.

“There’s aggravation with the change, but the features are really nice.”