OCCC starts conversion to Moodle

January 20, 2012 Latest Print Print
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With the start of the new year and new semester also comes the introduction to a new learning management system — Moodlerooms.

Until now, ANGEL was the system used for online classes, said Greg Gardner, academic affairs associate vice president.

“ANGEL got bought out by Blackboard and so we were forced to make some transition,” Gardner said.

He said there are about 70 sections of online classes that will be using the new format.

The reasoning behind having only a select few classes using Moodlerooms this semester is to test the new learning system.

“We are a little cautious,” Gardner said.“We have been working for the last three to four months to migrate some of our main courses into Moodlerooms.

“When you click to log in, you will see a new page that is where you choose either Moodlerooms or ANGEL,” Gardner said.

Gardner said all students enrolled in an online class this semester were sent a pamphlet to their home address advising them how to log on.

Jonathan Akuma, petroleum engineering major, said he’s not pleased with the change.

“ … Back then it was easier to log in without getting new pages popping up on the computer,” he said. “Even after the orientation, some people are not that good with computers and it could be confusing.”

Gardner said there is an online orientatio on the Moodlerooms page.

Seddik Halabi, petroleum engineering major and ANGEL user, said that will be particularly helpful.

After initial hesitation about using ANGEL, some students like Halabi had finally gotten accustomed to it just as the change took place.

English professor Mark Schneberger is teaching an Introduction to Literature class using Moodlerooms this semester.

“Any time you learn new technologies, my thought is always ‘how are students going to be able to follow and use this?’

“The system looks like it will be fairly easy to follow for new students,” Schneberger said.

Schneberger said the people who trained the faculty really encouraged them to make everything look the same.

“The way that it’s looking does make it seem a lot easier for students to follow,” Schneberger said.

He said faculty using Moodlerooms this semester were given the training in the middle of November.

“The training took place during the development of the classes online.

“They did a great job with the training at breaking it down into achievable tasks to make sure we can get this done,” Schneberger said. “A lot of us are a little hesitant still, but so far it seems to be working.”

Gardner said the school set up a committee that looked at several vendors and ended up choosing Moodlerooms.

“One of the big reasons they chose Moodlerooms is it integrates with our administrative system which is Datatel,” he said.

“When we get fully incorporated with Moodlerooms and faculty post grades, those two systems will talk to each other.

“This will make it easier not to have any errors in grades being officially put on transcripts by it being done manually,” Gardner said.

Gardner said ANGEL cost the college $79,000 a year to provide to students and faculty. The same cost is associated with Moodlerooms.

“We’ve increased some costs on the administrative system,” Gardner said, “but that is to integrate everything together.”

He said the goal to make the full transition to Moodlerooms is the summer semester.

“This is due to the large amount of faculty needing to be trained and leaving time to work out any problems that might occur with the new system.”

Schneberger said it may take some time but he is sure everyone will adjust well.

“I do know that any time there’s a change, students and faculty are used to seeing things in a certain place,” he said. “They’re going to have a struggle.

“So, as instructors, we need to be extra careful. I think we need to contact our students during the first week to see what troubles they might be having (and) if we can help with anything. I think after the second week, everything will be golden.”

To contact Sarah Hussain, email seniorwriter@occc.edu.

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