TWU’s online presence has been a long time coming, but, here we go!
Since arriving on campus in August, taking some time to listen to people talk about learning at TWU and what that entails, and thinking about how best to move us from where we are, to establishing a genuinely ‘TWU’ presence in online learning, I’ve generated some ideas.
One thing I’ve noticed is that TWU is just like every other higher ed campus in that people experience varying degrees of stress and excitement when faced with technological change. And that is to be expected.
The purpose of this blog is for me, the Director of TWU Online, to be transparent about what I am thinking and planning, and to provide a forum for conversations. The ideas that I put up here aren’t necessarily ‘official TWU’ ideas. They will be messy and underdeveloped. They will be subject to change. They might never see the light of a production server. But I know that I can’t do this on my own, so I need your input and expertise.
There are wickedly smart people here, and just because we may be a little behind the curve in engaging in online learning, doesn’t mean that we can’t do something awesome.
Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of faculty doing what they can with what they’ve got to engage students in learning in a digital environment, and I can’t commend that enough. Sometimes, that is just using Moodle (myCourses) to increase the efficiency of distributing and receiving documents and assignments. But other times, faculty are doing truly inspiring things, and I’m very encouraged at the care, thoughtfulness, and progressive thinking that is displayed.
There are certainly some priority issues that we need to deal with, the most glaring of all is the state of Moodle on campus. We are currently running Moodle 1.9 under the title ‘myCourses’. Moodle 1.9 was released in March 2008 and support for the latest version, Moodle 1.9.19, ended in 2012. So we are running software that has been obsolete for a little over four years. Predictably, this creates vulnerabilities and instability that we need to fix as soon as possible.
We’re on it.
My current thinking1 is that we can have a brand new installation of the latest version of Moodle (3.1) accessible as a faculty and student sandbox by January 2017, and a full production installation ready for September 2017.
Along the way, there are some significant milestones that we need to reach, such as integrations with Jenzabar and other systems, customizing the look and feel of Moodle to match TWU branding, and ensuring that we meet appropriate standards for accessibility.
We will also be creating or gathering documentation and organizing training sessions to ensure that you have the capacity and confidence to engage your students well.
Also, we plan to archive the current Moodle server and make it accessible so that your work and organization are not lost.
But that isn’t all. Moodle is a good foundation for our digital learning environment both online and on campus, but it won’t get us to where we need to go.
In my next post, I’ll talk a little about the idea of our next generation digital learning environment.
If you have questions or comments, feel free.