Moodle Update Coming Soon

By babs on March 28, 2013 11:29 AM

SSU Information Technology is deploying a new Moodle server in time for Summer 2013 courses, available on April 4, 2013.

On May 17, 2013, the current Moodle server will be put into Archive mode. The old Moodle archive (hosting courses from Fall 2010-Spring 2012) will be dismantled and no longer available.

Faculty should read the information below and follow links to the Moodle Community course for more information and instructions.

Why do we need a new Moodle server?

The main reason is performance. Moodle's architecture is such that SSU cannot maintain thousands of courses indefinitely without seriously impacting performance of active courses. The longer a Moodle server is used, the slower it eventually becomes, even when it is diligently maintained.

SSU also needs to keep current with Moodle's major and minor version releases. Upgrading to a new major version (i.e., from 2.3 to 2.4) in place would mean likely disruption of courses, changes to functionality mid-term, downtime and some things breaking unpredictably in live courses.

When IT deployed Moodle on campus last year, we included high availability as a component of the project. Deploying a new Moodle server allows us to move closer to that goal. By the time summer session begins, Moodle will have highly available web frontend, database and storage backends.

So, in order to provide the fastest and most reliable learning management system for SSU faculty and students, SSU IT will deploy a new Moodle server once per academic year. The new Moodle server will have the most recent full version of Moodle, with all available patches, and host the active Moodle courses for that academic year.

See this Moodle Lifespan chart for the full deployment schedule.

What happens to the old server and courses?

Every year, as a new server is deployed, the older Moodle server will be put into archive mode for one year. During this time, faculty can still access the old courses to copy content to the new server, or check on saved student work for grade appeal. Students can also have access to the old courses at the instructor's discretion (as long as the student still has valid Seawolf ID).

After a year in archive mode, old Moodle servers are sent to the Moodle Graveyard, where IT securely dismantles the server and destroys the old data.

Instructors who wish to keep a copy of any old courses can make and download backup files. The Faculty Center can provide advice and assistance to faculty who wish to preserve their own copies of courses and student work.

What will happen to the courses from Fall 2010 - Spring 2012 that are currently on the old Moodle 1.9 Archive?

The old Moodle Archive has reached the end of its lifespan. Effective May 17, 2013, it will no longer be available to faculty and students, and will be dismantled.

Faculty who wish to make copies of courses from the old Moodle 1.9 Archive must do so BEFORE May 17, 2013.

Instructions for downloading copies of Moodle 1.9 courses are available in the Moodle Community course.

When will this happen?

The new Moodle 2.4 server will be available to faculty on April 4, 2013. This will allow faculty who teach summer courses to prepare. Initially, the new server will be called "Future Moodle" in the Online Services portal.

On May 17, 2013, after finals and before the summer session begins, the "Future Moodle" link will be renamed "Moodle", and the old Moodle link will be renamed "Moodle Archive." The link to the Moodle 1.9 archive (for courses from 2010-Spring 2012) will no longer be available.

How can teachers copy courses to the new Moodle server?

Courses can be copied from the old server to the new one using the same Backup and Restore method used over the last few years. Updated instructions for this process will be posted in the Moodle Community course).

Faculty should prioritize making backups of Moodle 1.9 courses on the current Moodle Archive, as that server will no longer be available effective May 17, 2013.

What about Miscellaneous and Sandbox courses?

The Faculty Center staff can assist in moving Miscellaneous courses to the new server as needed. Only courses that need to continue being active should move to the new server. Teachers of Miscellaneous courses will receive email from the Faculty Center with information about how to move those courses.

New sandbox courses can be created on the new server by request. However, the Faculty Center will not move sandbox course content from the old server for faculty. Please keep in mind that sandbox courses are intended as temporary exploration spaces to help instructors learn how to use Moodle. If you used a Sandbox course to build or store a course for future use, remember that you will continue to have access to that Sandbox in Archive mode until Summer 2014.

What about courses with non-standard start and end dates?

Some departments and programs offer courses that have start and end dates that don't match the official first and last days of instruction. Faculty who use Moodle with courses that start in Spring 2013 and end in Summer or Fall should contact the Faculty Center to determine the best course of action for their courses and students, ASAP.

Send email to martha.ezell@sonoma.edu, tim.hensel@sonoma.edu, or barbara.moore@sonoma.edu.

What do Faculty and other Moodle Teachers need to do?

Faculty should consider this list of possible To-Dos, ordered by urgency. The Faculty Center can assist Moodle Teachers.

  1. If you teach a course with non-standard start end dates beginning in Spring 2013 and ending in Summer or Fall 2013, contact the Faculty Center ASAP.
  2. If you have courses on the old Moodle 1.9 Archive, decide if you need a copy them.
    • The Faculty Center's Advice Sheet for further details and instructions will be posted in the Moodle Community course.
  3. If you're teaching a Summer 2013 course, login to Future Moodle (available April 4) to start building it.
    • Build your course from scratch, or
    • Use the Backup/Restore method to copy content from an existing course 1.9 or 2.3 course.
  4. If you have a course in the Miscellaneous category, talk with the Faculty Center about whether or not it needs to move to the new server.
  5. If you have courses on Moodle 2.3 that you will teach again in Fall 2013 -Spring 2014, you can delay moving that content until you are ready to the new course. Remember, Moodle 2.3 will be in archive mode until Summer 2014.

What does this mean for students?

Students will continue to click the "Moodle" link in the portal to access active courses. A small number of students - those who are enrolled in classes with non-standard start of end dates, may need to access a course on "Future Moodle" or "Moodle Archive." Faculty of those classes should inform their students if this is the case.

Questions? Need Help?