From Moodle to Desire2Learn: Implementation Complete

In February 2012, VIU approached Desire2Learn to engage with them to be our new learning management system. In March, we had signed a contract and by April were into administration training sessions. In June we started our own training with 80 keen faculty to jump on board. Now 17 months later, we are done with the implementation of Desire2Learn from Moodle. We didn’t go ‘cold turkey’ as some institutions do, we did the long and methodical approach to ensure we captured all the needs along the way. We consulted with many institutions and did our homework as best as we could.

Mostly we were held up with time to clean up course conversions from Moodle. Our time has come to end our implementation phase with Desire2Learn as we move into the first term with all of the institution using one LMS.

This blog has captured our journey, our learning and our experiences. It has been one heck of a journey! Reading other institution’s accounts of implementation and converting to a new LMS never really resonates fully until you do it yourself and encounter your own hurdles and successes.

So far…things from the bird’s eye view are positive. We have more users (faculty and students) on our LMS than we did a year ago and we have far more engagement with tools and activities in Desire2Learn. We have also installed Kaltura, WordPress and Collaborate this past year – at SAME time as Desire2Learn (we are sort of nuts!) and that too has gone very well.

We’ve sent staff and faculty to the past 2 D2L Fusion conferences and we have built up a knowledge base of D2L in our Centre. We are poised for a successful start to the Fall term with over 60 student orientation sessions in faculty’s classes, orientation course almost done, lots of videos and handouts made and many lessons learned about how best to help faculty learn and enjoy D2L. We are ready….bring on the students!

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D2L 10.2 Upgrade Complete

On Thursday, VIU completed a significant upgrade to the LMS to version 10.2. This now completes a year of D2L at VIU (officially from start of training) and we are seeing an exponential growth in faculty and student uptake. This Fall we are hosting nearly 50 orientation sessions in various faculties/departments to give students some broad strokes on what educational technology exists at VIU and specifically how to log on and gain access to Desire2Learn. With our system (both production and test) now on 10.2 we are going into the summer to upgrade our vidoes, attend D2L users conference and finish off approximatley 500 course conversions. Here is a brief list from our post on what is new in D2L version 10.2.

Design

  • 10.2 includes navigation and interface improvements including “drag and drop” for importing course files, navigation and editing improvements in the content viewer, and document viewer performance improvements
  • The quicklinks interface has been improved and is easier to use with all the choices more visually displayed

Communication

  • Improvements to the email feature in Desire2Learn -you can now drag and drop attachments and the To, CC, and BCC fields will auto complete from the address book
  • Discussions can be now posted directly in the content tool, allowing students to participate in discussions without leaving the content tool
  • Discussions are also now separated into two views, topic view and thread view for easier navigation in forums. The ‘topic view’ displays each initial student post, while the ‘thread view’ displays all the replies to that post
  • You can now use the HTML editor for calendar entry descriptions, allowing them to contain rich text formatting and embedded images/other media

Assessment

  • 10.2 has improved rubric functionality. Rubrics attached to discussion topics can now be viewed by students
  • Desire2Learn has added an exciting new grading feature to the dropbox tool.  Instructors who download all file submissions for commenting and grading can now upload all the evaluated files to the students as feedback in one ‘bulk upload’ step
  • Design improvements to the ePortfolio tool has made it easier to navigate and create content
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Moodle is Decommissioned; Going to 10.2 for D2L; All Courses Moved Over

June 1 is a special day. We have decommissioned 9 Moodle instances and turned off access for all students and faculty. We no longer have this risk of 9 completely different code bases to monitor, work with and support! This month also marks the completion of moving 1500 Moodle courses over to Desire2Learn. They have 1 by 1 been opened, consulted with faculty on and then backed up, zipped and put in the conversion tool in D2L! That was quite a feat but it meant we worked with faculty every step of the way, got their input on timing and needs and in many cases just tossed out old courses that we never needed to move.  In late June we will move to version 10.2 of Desire2Learn – fixing a number of issues with 10.1 and the debacle of January and the design of the interface. We can’t wait. While most of the faculty and students won’t notice much difference in look and feel, we know there are many valuable and needed fixes happening to the back-end. We have also just about completed 180 D2L training sessions this month (from starting in March) for the Phase 3 (last phase of adopters) and are planning another 40 or so in August to catch the last faculty before we become fully D2L next Fall.

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Phase Three: Our Last Group to Migrate to D2L

This month marks the last phase in our migration from Moodle to D2L. Currently 150 faculty have been educated, had their courses moved from Moodle and have been given access to D2L (VIU Learn). We are now going ahead with the remaining faculty (approx. 270 more) and will be moving their Fall courses (Fall 2012) first this month through the converter and then in April we’ll take their January to March 2013 semester courses and move over in April. In total, we have about 44% of faculty using our LMSs and we know this number will climb with D2L and new services being offered.

We have worked through some SRS issues last month (everything uploads nicely now), upgraded to 10.1 December 18th and will be starting this semester in 10.1 with the new drag and drop interface. We have Kaltura ready to go for use outside of D2L for now (but a pretty easy interface), will be turning Collaborate on (Online Rooms in D2L) for all users in late January and we have hired two new staff to work on the conversion of courses (approx 1128 more to go!) for the next year.

This month there will be a few VIU Learn Preview Sessions for any of the 270 remaining faculty to come and hear what is in store. Starting Reading Week we’ll be offering learning sessions (Part A and a Part B) to get faculty up and running with D2L and we’ll be hosting many tool specific sessions for people to learn more. So far….all is going well.

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Phase Two of Migration is Underway

For Phase Two we have approximately 250 courses to migrate to Desire2Learn from Moodle, and about 50 new faculty we are bringing on board for January start. The 4 hour (pedagogy and not tool) training sessions are going well. Our biggest success is hosting 12 “Drop In Days” again in December and early January in the computer lab. Faculty can drop in, work on their courses and have access to D2L trained staff from the centre. We are also planning more comprehensive Collaborate sessions for January and continuing to use Kaltura with special invites who need large video hosting abilities. On D2L’s side – we are still in progress with our installation waiting for some help with our XML uploads still not working on automatic, as well as some Kaltura pieces that need fine tuning. The past month also saw an issue with email not working on D2L’s end and while working now – we are still seeking answers to the reasons why messages were held up for a bit. We are scheduled to go to 10.1 (significant upgrade of features and functions) on our test instance in a few days and the production instance gets its upgrade in early December. The upgrade solves a number of issues we have seen and reported and are excited to share with our faculty.

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Moving to Phase Two

We have our Moodle converter working well and are now starting on our second batch of courses to convert for January offering. We have streamlined our processes for backing up Moodle, uploading to the FTP site and then have more help this time in doing some minor clean up components (that the converter can’t do). It is going very well. We have put in a request to have our sites upgraded to version 10.1 in December (a significant improvement in operability) and are just nearing the end of our integration with Kaltura into the system too. Our big issue is still working on fine tuning the automatic upload to D2L nightly from our SRS XML pulls and getting that to all upload and be processed. Filezilla works for course uploads but not for scripting. So we are still hot on the trail of a solution for that. Training for Phase Two has begun with a new 4 hour session focused on pedagogy and curriculum, along with higher level understandings of the tools. Videos are almost finished and handouts to go along with these new components to support faculty. We currently have 2000 students using D2L, and need to move over another 5000 next term to complete this process by May. So far – things are going well!!

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First Month on D2L: All Systems Still Going!

We have made it through our first month with Desire2Learn – 80 faculty, just under 200 courses and lots of students! We have learned a lot about the connectivity to the Student Registration System (SRS) and how it feeds information to D2L (courses, students, enrolments, withdrawals etc). So far, the system is doing very well for us. We have also been working through the Quality Assurance (QA) phase of Kaltura and are just now finalizing connectivity to D2L. Additionally we are awaiting WebDav integration to D2L along with an updated Moodle converter so we can enter Phase Two and convert many more courses for January start. We are pleased with the progress and our support team at D2L.

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Start Up Success!

At VIU, we have successfully integrated D2L with our SRS, loaded up all Fall courses, ensured all enrolled students were in courses, helped faculty make their SRS linked courses active and presto – we have just experienced a very successful first week of school with fully online, blended and web-enhanced courses.

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D2L Integration Success

As of Friday, August 17th – 3 months, lots of XML tests, holding tank refreshes, nightly runs, differential updates and testing, testing and testing – we have success! Our Student Registration System (SRS) is connected with Desire2Learn! We had to do a lot of learning and tweaking our settings this week regarding enrolments and unenrolments but we are moving along. Pilot faculty are now able to go in and copy their development content into their SRS connected courses and finalize things before term starts. Drop in sessions happen all week too – August 20, 22, 23 and 24!

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Conversion, Integration and Kaltura Progress

It was a productive week of solidifying many aspects of our multi-software build process. Skyped with Kaltura engineer setting up installation and had a productive meeting and clarified elements. Connected each day with D2L on Moodle 2.2 converter which is still working out the kinks – more courses came through with content converted but still some issues with elements of converter. Worked through some SRS integration questions and testing issues, but seem to have things ready to flip the switch to the production instance this week. This means faculty will get their “SRS” connected coures with student enrolments and can copy content into this course for Fall. Yahoo!

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