Moodle at McNeese
Updated September 30, 2015

Moodle at McNeese

Helen Ware | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

2.6+

Modules Used

  • BigBlueButton, Turnitin, Turning Tech, Simple Certificate, Attendance, Tegrity, Ebsco Reading List

Overall Satisfaction with Moodle

Moodle is being used across our university by all of our instructors. They are geared toward putting their syllabus up in each of their courses. We have approximately 2500 courses that run in the summer and in the fall. We also use it exclusively for our web courses for our adult learning programs. We do have the business problem of the budget that it addressed. It is an open-source management system which is basically free for our university to use. We were paying nearly $60,000 for the prior learning management system.
  • Moodle provides a vast variety of using technology in ways that the instructor or student with little experience with technology is able to use it. All of our instructors received beginning training in how to use Moodle before we switched over to it, so that they felt comfortable with the switch. They could come to the training more than one time if they chose to.
  • I give all of our instructors more advanced training when they choose to teach the fully online courses, and they also receive training in additional software. They also receive a webcam and they can also receive a document camera if they are a math or an accounting instructor.
  • They have also received Camtasia and Snagit which work well with Moodle. They may basically use any software and are able to upload their own videos, videos from the Internet, any sort of PowerPoints that they create with their own voice or video, extra technology, notes, etc. for the students.
  • The instructors use a variety of modules within Moodle. We have available for their use BigBlueButton, which is a webinar. It provides guests appearances and provides office hours for our instructors who have strictly web based courses. They also have Turnitin, which is the plagiarism tool, Turning Tech that is the linked in tool that provides a quiz taking that links to Moodle and to the gradebook. We also use Tegrity that delivers the instructors and the students with an additional tool that permits them to do a video, or a PowerPoint or allow the instructor to link to anything on the computer and to upload it into Moodle. We also have the Attendance module, which allows the instructors who take attendance in the classroom to give the students "points" for attendance. We are adding the Ebsco reading list for the library this summer, which lets individual instructors to add certain reading lists from the library for their individual classrooms.
  • Right now, our Moodle is not working with our Banner product in being able to bring our grades in from Banner directly into Moodle. This isn't a problem with Moodle, it is a problem with the integration with the product.
  • There are issues with the gradebook being difficult for the instructor to use because there are so many different ways to use it, however Moodle is working on a new gradebook component.
  • We make extensive use of MNet and there are many ways to use it, but again Moodle is in the process of improving it.
  • Moodle has had a positive impact on our business objectives because we went from using another service that cost us $60,000 per year to Moodle, which is open source, which we self-host and it is basically free.
  • We are able to upgrade from 2.0 which we started on, to each of the upgrades relatively quickly. We have recently upgraded to 2.7 and we test it out on our Moodletest site first and then we upgrade to our actual site.
  • We definitely have increased our instructor efficiency. The only issues that we had this semester were with the quiz settings, and we taught several lessons in this to clear up the miscommunication among the instructors. I also have a "Moodle for Instructors" course that I put all of these instructions and many more for the faculty members such as how to make the courses visible for their students, how to transfer a block of students from one course to another, if they wish to combine two courses, how to import materials from last semester's course into a new semester's course. They may refer to these at any time. It saves me tons of email time!
We had used Blackboard since 1999, and had officially signed up for it in 2001. We started having less than great service with Blackboard because they had grown so large. However, more than that, they were just too expensive for our individual budget. With all of the budget cuts that were occurring in Louisiana in higher education, several other schools had already moved over to Moodle. We had already tried out Moodle and found that because they were open source and several of the features we could "fix" on our own with just writing in a code whenever we needed. It was really a great idea! All of the schools in our ULS system moved over to Moodle and we found that this worked well. It was especially great when our Moodle server administrator figured out that we could use MNet to configure all four of the schools together that were in our Nursing Consortium. The users would no longer have to be given new user ids for each of the schools! They could use their individual school ids and still be able to login to each of the individual schools. It was truly a miracle that we were all using Moodle.
If they are able to self-host the Moodle product, I do recommend it. If they do not self-host it, I would not recommend having it hosted by someone else, because then it is no longer an open source.

Using Moodle

We now have been under the use of Moodle for two full years now. Our faculty have really grown to love the use of Moodle. We are now under the use of Moodle 2.7.1+ and we upgrade at the end of every semester to the next version. We are self-hosted and we love using Moodle. Our administration always asks me to set up a new "group" to have each new area set up in for curriculum, or various administrative areas. It is wonderful how many people actually use it now.
I support Moodle every day for the faculty and occasionally for the student who has an out of the ordinary something that happens to them. The other person runs our server all of the time, and keeps up with all of our upgrades. He and I talk every day. He occasionally helps me out with the faculty as well. Most of our faculty ask very few questions at this point.

Of the other two people, one guy will help out occasionally if we need a code written in to help us out with something needed in Moodle. We also have the other person who puts in our courses into Moodle at the beginning of each semester.
  • The use of Moodle for courses in everyday courses and the syllabus for each course
  • The use of Moodle for the administration
  • The use of Moodle for the student groups
  • The administrative group that has used it to come up with ways to use it for the other administrators to come up with ideas for the QEP
  • Our curriculum committee has scanned in all of our documents into the administrative group for the committee to review
  • The review committee is thinking of having the faculty put in their ideas for the future of the President of the university's 5 year plan
We definitely are renewing Moodle. We love it! I am the system administrator and most of our faculty have become accustomed to it. Our server administrator also loves it and I asked him a couple questions about the items that he found "wrong" with the system. We definitely would not change over from this system as long as we are able to self-host this system. I do not think that anything could be better. We have had very few problems and with any new modules that come out that are open source, we will eventually add them into the system to replace some of the ones that are not open source. Even though we have a small staff, we have accomplished a great deal with a relatively small staff and our instructors and our students appreciate it.

Evaluating Moodle and Competitors

Yes - We replaced Blackboard. It was costly to our university, which was under budget cuts at the time. The entire higher education system had major budget cuts and Blackboard was costing us nearly $60,000 dollars and we just could not afford it. We needed something that we could self-host. We did look at some other products and decided to go with Moodle.
  • Price
  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
  • Product Reputation
  • Vendor Reputation
  • Existing Relationship with the Vendor
  • Analyst Reports
  • Third-party Reviews
Price, which was basically free, except for the cost of the server. We had to invest in the additional cost of a server, so therefore we did so. The product features, which Moodle offers several features, that we are able to add as they come out. We were able to wait until 2.0, which was very beneficial. Knowing the vendor reputation, this was also beneficial. We had actually met the owner of Moodle at a Moodle Moot before in Austin, Texas. He is a very personable guy. He had started the Moodle company and he makes as many of the Moodle Moots as possible. We have now met with him in the New Orleans one as well. Martin is really a down-to-earth person! I think that having met him has made a very good impression on a great many people. We had done a presentation on MNet which stands for the type of Networking that we use for our Nursing consortium. He was impressed that we are using this (which is part of Moodle). He actually took a picture of our final presentation which showed a few items that still need to be "fixed" with the MNet pics!
I really don't think that we would change anything in the way that we have handled it. We had wanted to change over to Moodle a couple of years before we did, but it really has worked out well. If we had changed before we did, we would have had to change over to 1.9 which may have been more difficult and our faculty would have been more difficult to make the change. I think that it just all worked out well when we made the change. I took almost a year long in training our faculty, and we gradually made the change over from Blackboard to Moodle over two semesters. It really just worked out well. It has been two years, and I really feel as though our faculty ask us very few questions, now.

Moodle Implementation

Change management was a big part of the implementation and was well-handled - We regarded change management and the implementation with first of all teaching our instructors how to use Moodle. I walked all of our instructors through lessons in how to use Moodle in and year and a half before we started using Moodle. Each of our instructors could come into the "lessons" more than one time, if needed. At the time, we had over 300 full-time instructors and I also taught a few of our grad assistants, which only took about 30 minutes compared to the two hours that it took for the instructors. They were much younger and quicker at learning; which is why I had them scheduled separately. It worked well. Also, our System Administrator for the server sees that we update the server every semester to the newest version of Moodle. We are currently on 2.8+. Our instructors now have very few questions concerning Moodle. However, when they do we take care of it by answering their questions immediately. If it is something that is an issue, we research it, we do the latest updates, and it usually resolves the issue.

Moodle Reliability

Moodle is the easiest software to find out issues that occur. Although we have very few problems, it is simple for our Server Administrator to find out any that I cannot figure out that are the simple issues that our new instructors may have. He is able to search within the server where I cannot and is able to search within the server logs that I cannot see. Most of these problems are resolved within 24 hours or less.
Yes, Moodle is always available. We are self-hosted and Moodle is always up and available. The only time that it is not available is when we are upgrading it each semester. It is then down for just a few planned hours. That is in-between semesters and we let the faculty and students know. We do it on a Friday evening and it is back up within a few hours.
Moodle is an excellent LMS in relationship to any other one that I have seen or used. The pages load quickly and the reports complete in a reasonable time frame. Moodle has taken on Respondus, StudyMate, BigBlueButton, Turning Tech, Turnitin2, Certificates, Attendance, Tegrity, Questionnaire, Virtual Programming Lab, and Badges. All of these programs work right in with Moodle and do not cause any issues. Instructors may also use Camtasia and Snagit software as well as using webcams, downloading videos from the Internet, adding into books, or any of the many other areas within Moodle. Our instructors use the grade books without many problems and really don't ask questions much anymore. We upgrade Moodle every semester and are currently on 2.9+. Our instructors have basically learned to use most of the resources and activities.