Moodlerooms CEO: Blackboard acquisition will expand open-source movement

Blackboard's share of the college LMS market has dropped in recent years.

Lou Pugliese, CEO of Moodlerooms, said Blackboard’s purchase of his company and another firm that hosts and supports the popular open-source learning management system (LMS) Moodle should be welcome news to educators who support the open-source movement over proprietary options because, finally, an open platform has the financial backing of a large company.

Blackboard, by far the largest LMS provider to U.S. colleges and universities, announced March 26 that the company had purchased two providers of the open-source Moodle LMS platform, Moodlerooms and Australia-based NetSpot.

In its entrance into the open LMS world, Blackboard secured the backing of respected open-source advocates like Pugliese and Charles Severance, who has held a number of positions with the Sakai Foundation, another open-source advocacy organization.…Read More

Teaching with Moodle: Tips for enhanced course design

Moodle sessions are popular at ed-tech conferences.
Moodle sessions are popular at ed-tech conferences.

Live ISTE Blog – My first ISTE session was Teaching Moodle:Tips for Enhanced Course Design. My goal in attending the session was to get some ideas on how to create better quizzes, better use of blocks, and just creating a strong online experience for Moodle users. Michelle was very informative and knowledgeable about the Moodle Platform, and was well versed in good course design.

Her main concept is creating courses that have a clear, consistent design, and are organized in a way in which your information is easy to find and understand. In thinking about my own course design, I still have many things to learn. The importance of presenting information that is clear to the user is critical. The individual topic descriptions need to be shorter, and I need to start using labels a bit more. I never made the connection that the topic descriptions go into the “jump to” navigation. By thinking of this, my students can easily access a topic that they need to in a much easier manner. When I need to go into more detail, I need to start using the label.

The most important concept that I took away was breaking down the information. Avoid embedding links–use the resource tool to add a link. Avoid putting video directly on the front page, as it delays loading the page, and puts too much on the course start page. And finally, avoid having too much text in one area. Break it apart into smaller sections by using labels, or compose several web pages to break the information apart. One plug-in that was mentioned, that I would like to explore, is the book plug-in. Again, it’s another great way to break large amounts of information apart.…Read More

Vendors link e-textbook content with LMS software

CaféScribe eBooks are available online and on more than 850 college campuses.
CaféScribe eBooks are available online and used on more than 850 college campuses.

As digital textbooks become more common on higher-ed campuses, providers are making it easy for professors to share textbook notes and resources with students through their class learning management system (LMS) software. The latest provider to do so is Follett Higher Education Group, which announced May 19 that a new standards-based system would integrate its eBook material with popular sites such as Moodle, Sakai, and Blackboard.

Educators who use textbooks supplied by Follett’s CaféScribe, which also brings students together through social networking to form online study groups, can take detailed notes in the web-based format, pointing out the most important lessons to students and fellow faculty.

Until recently, those notes couldn’t be shared on a college course’s LMS, where students go to see class assignments, chat with peers and faculty members, and watch class videos online.…Read More

Microsoft creates Office plug-in for Moodle

Microsoft is releasing a free add-on that could make life easier for teachers, professors, and others who use the online educational system Moodle, CNET reports. The plug-in, which works with Office 2003 and Office 2007, allows users to save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents directly to the open-source online service. It also allows users to edit directly in Office a document saved on Moodle, which is widely used in colleges and K-12 schools. Saving documents to Moodle from Office used to require up to eight steps, but the new add-on cuts that in half. Opening an Office document from Moodle is now a single step, said Jon Perera, general manager of Microsoft’s Educational Products Group.

The add-on helps those using the current version of Office for Windows PCs, but doesn’t help the many educational users on a Mac. Perera said Microsoft is evaluating how to support Moodle in Office 2010, which also includes browser-based Office Web Apps that run on both Macs and PCs…

Click here for the full story…Read More

How to grow campus technology amid shrinking resources

Baker led CSU Northridge's conversion to Gmail, which saved $160,000 annually.
Baker led CSU Northridge's conversion to Gmail, which saved $160,000 annually.

Being an IT official at a California university today requires a close look at any measures that can save the campus cash. But Hilary Baker, vice president for IT at California State University Northridge, has found ways to maintain—and even improve—technology services despite massive statewide budget cuts.

Baker, who came to the Northridge campus in 2006, said budget planning has taken on new significance during the country’s economic slump as university technology officials brace for a 5-percent budget cut this year and another 5-percent reduction next year.

“They probably are worse than any of us thought they would be,” Baker said, adding that open IT positions will be left unfilled this year as a cost-cutting measure.…Read More