Moodle Canvas WordPress (MooCanWord) update

Evergreen is now in our last quarter of actively using Moodle as the primary web technology for academic offerings. Moving forward I thought it would be useful to layout how the transition has been going and what to expect over the next year and beyond.

To date, there have been 20 academic programs that have made the move to WordPress as a curricular web application and these have been really successful. Considerable work has been put into making WordPress a flexible, easy-to-use and attractive web tool for academic offerings. New curricular web templates have been created to make it easier to create your sites. WordPress also allows for both a private and public face to your program site and lots of interesting ways to engage students in class materials.  Check out Making Meaning Matter, Contested Bodies or Ecology of Grazing and Grasslands in the Pacific Northwest for more about how these sites can look and function. We are currently working on a behind-the-scenes enrollment process that will automatically add your students as subscribers to the site much the way Moodle and Canvas currently work.

CanvasOn the Canvas front there has been strong activity with 125 offerings generating Canvas course sites this academic year. The fall started rocky as our faculty discovered and subsequently our technical team identified a significant flaw in the Canvas code. This made the transition to Canvas more difficult than it should have been as faculty were routinely getting timed out of the application.  The problem was complex, difficult to diagnose and required collaboration between Evergreen technical staff and Canvas engineers.  The root cause of the flaw was finally understood and corrected at the end of Fall quarter by the Canvas engineers. In our minds this experience cemented Canvas’ responsiveness and dedication towards finding and resolving flaws in their application which bodes well into the future.  Since then, we have not experienced systemic problems and continue to grow our knowledge of how best to leverage this application to fit the Evergreen pedagogy in its myriad forms.

MoodleMoodle also had considerable activity this last year as 124 course sites were created. We are working hard to connect with the remaining faculty who continue to use Moodle and to work with them on-on-one to find a suitable alternative starting this summer.  For those who have asked the question, I will try and summarize below how we intend to provide future access to Moodle data after spring quarter is over.

I definitely heard from faculty how important long-term access is to this material and we’re trying to come up with a best solution for balancing access with easy long-term maintenance. For the next academic year Moodle will live in “archive” mode meaning that it will be available only to faculty (as is) to go back and mine data they need as they need.  After spring 2016 we will be moving all the data into a stored course/file structure outside of a live application (easier long-term archive strategy) so that we can grab data on request if there’s something faculty might need.  We’re still figuring out the best technical approach but this is the current direction.

If you have questions or want to know more regarding any of this, please comment below (so your colleagues can see the question) or send me an email, and either way I’ll get back to you. Thanks to everyone for all your great work, flexibility and ingenuity!

-Rip Heminway
Academic Technologies

4 thoughts on “Moodle Canvas WordPress (MooCanWord) update

  1. diamanth

    Rip, it is great that you provided links to programs that used WordPress. Can you do the same for succesful examples of programs that used Canvas?

  2. Rip Post author

    Hi Hirsh,

    Unfortunately, like Moodle, these sites are set to private so that only the teaching faculty and their students can see the content. That said, we are working towards making some publicly visible courses available to demonstrate different ways that folks have successfully build Canvas courses.

  3. Sean Williams

    I went through the Canvas training last year; at first glance, it seemed like a good tool. However, at one point the instructions said something like “click on settings.” No problem! There were two places on the page with live links, called “settings.” Surprise! The “settings” link that I was actually supposed to click on was an image of a gear. Canvas has THREE options to “click on settings” within a single page, two of which sent me way off-course. This seems unworkable and unnecessarily confusing to me. Can we please have a clear program without all the confusing side-tracks? I was told during the training that I “just have to know which one.” I “just have to know”? And with that, my brain shut off and I decided to just use WordPress.

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