Why can’t Moodle get upgrades right?

Ok, I love Moodle, but sometimes it really drives me crazy! Ever since 1.6, upgrades are a bear. Everytime I try to upgrade to a version in the MOODLE_18_STABLE branch, it chokes — whether one of the continue buttons fails to work half-way through the upgrade, or I click on the unattended mode, it never seems to work (1.8.2+ this summer and 1.8.3+ this week). I always end up installing a copy from the *_RELEASE branch instead but then I wonder if we’re going to encounter an issue with security patches and updates. There has to be a better way! Are there any Moodle admins out there who have suggestions about how to get this under control. I’d be happy to operate from CVS if that would be best — I just need it to work!PS — I know you Moodle folks found my post on wikis before so if you find this one, I’d love some advice on best practice for upgrading :-).

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LMS Mashups

Last year we had significant performance issues with the chat module in our LMS. Under heavy load, it would bring our server to its knees. We performed several adjustments and battle tested the configuration but we were unable to keep chat from overloading our server. To solve the problem, we decided to mashup an instance of Campfire into our LMS and had wonderful results. If you haven’t used Campfire, you should give it a try (a free account lets you chat with 5 users). The results were excellent and after a little bit of adjustment our users found that they really liked it. The only thing that was missing was the ability to have a picture or avatar next to messages that each user typed (I’m sure that’s coming soon though).

This sort of scenario brings up a good question though…How should a university respond to the current push for mashing up different technologies into existing solutions for LMS and CMS? What sorts of standards or guidelines should be set for faculty who want to innovate with technology? In my experience, it doesn’t make sense to try to squash innovation by those on the leading edge. Eventually, the best work that they do finds its way into production as a solution for faculty and students.

For us, the mashup with Campfire has gone very well. What are you mashing up to provide teaching and learning tools for your faculty and students?

Upgrading to Moodle 1.6.1

We’re upgrading to Moodle 1.6.1 next week and I’m really excited about the update. One of the modules that we have had some interesting experience with over the last two semesters is the Wiki. Our professors have begun using it in their courses and they’re reaping the benefits of its collaborative writing environment and the students are generating wonderful content. In 1.6.1, Moodle introduces blogs to the open source LMS, which will provide a new tool to our community for learning and communicating. I’m excited to see what develops over the coming year.