Wednesday, 20 July 2011

2 - The preparation stage

During the Easter holidays we took a copy of the live Moodle 1.9 and upgraded this to Moodle 2.1

In the first week of May, we launched the upgrade to Moodle 2 to all staff.  We did this through department meetings.  I outlined the benefits of Moodle 2 and the new things to expect (as soon as I told them that the 'choose' button was gone for the file uploads - that they simply had to find the file and save it - it was sold!!)  I explained the timescales and how the upgrade would take place, the options available and the support throughout the whole process.

Launch: 5th May 2011
May - 22nd July: Preparation months
25th - 31st July:  No access to Moodle - upgrade week
1st August - we go live with Moodle 2

This meant that staff had almost 3 months to choose one of the options available: work towards a Moodle Medal; use the upgraded Moodle 2 version; or start to develop their new course in Moodle. 

We also gave the option for staff to gain a level 4 qualification whilst learning how to use Moodle 2, developing their online course and meeting their CPD needs.

Support was provided to staff from the Learning Technologies and Resources Service (LTRS).  Each department has a part-time member of my resources staff assigned to support them throughout the year to create electronic and paper-based learning resources. Throughout this Moodle 2 prep time they were mainly supporting the staff with moving to Moodle 2.  The support they have given has been fantastic and don't believe we could have gone through this process without them.

The support was mainly requested by those staff who wanted to take their Moodle 1.9 course and needed to gain a medal.  The resources staff checked the course against the medal criteria and let them know what work needed to be done to achieve a bronze medal.  We have been giving either full bronze or a conditional bronze if the course handbooks and assessment plans are not yet on the course (due to the time of the year and this information may not be known).   Conditional courses will be checked again in September to ensure the extra information has been added and then we will award the full medal.

The other support that my staff gave was to move resources from Moodle 1 to Moodle 2 where the whole course wasn't needed but some resources were.  We made a new course in Moodle 2 and recreated the parts of the courses required OR amended the upgraded April Moodle 2 version (confused about all the options yet?  It is not easy to explain in writing so we encouraged staff to come and talk to us for 5 minutes to get it sorted!)

The LTRS staff were also the point of contact for staff to tell us what option they would like to choose for the transfer.  We had a tracking sheet that listed all the courses currently in Moodle 1. This was updated all day everyday with the details of how it was going to be upgraded (eg:  Moodle 1.9 version, April Moodle 2 version or new in Moodle 2) and the current status (eg: working towards a medal, completed and ready for upgrade).  We would also use this to record which courses were no longer needed in Moodle 2.
We decided not to put the file on googledocs as it was THE upgrade details and wanted to keep it in a secure and backed up area.  However, this meant we were all fighting to get on it as there was always something to update!
The tracking sheet took some time to initially set up and, without enough time to work on it, this was not used until the last 6 weeks of the preparation phase.  We could have used it from the start.  The initial plan was for the tracker to have all the courses that would be running the following year but we found we couldn't easily cross-reference current courses with it so we abandoned that idea and used the current courses as the basis for tracking.

The tracking sheet was shared to subject managers throughout the last month of the preparation stage and the courses were colour-coded - green for ready to go, amber for those courses where we knew the plans but work was still needed to get it ready (eg: working towards a medal) or red where we hadn't been given any information and indicated it wouldn't be upgraded or available in September.  We also put this onto the staff website for all to see and check so that we kept staff informed.  Moodle 2 was also a regular agenda item at college managers meetings.

Alongside the tracking sheet, we also used categories in Moodle to help to manage the courses that were 'ready to go'.  We have a category on our live Moodle 1.9 version called 'Live for Moodle 2' where all the courses that had been awarded bronze would be moved to.
In the upgraded beta Moodle 2 (the one we made in April) we have another category to move the courses into that are ready to go.  These could be new courses created or the versions upgraded in April that are being used.  Only the courses approved for transfer are put into this category.

Using both the tracking sheet and the categories gives a cross-reference.

We are on the final days of the preparation phase and we are still updating the tracking sheet but thankfully it is slowing down.  In the final preparation week we are only giving staff the option of using the April version that was upgraded into Moodle 2 as we didn't feel that staff would be able to achieve the bronze required and my staff had no more time to support them (half of them are term time only so they have left for the summer now!).  I think the rest of them will be very glad of the holiday!

We really haven't had any complaints or moans about 'why' are we doing this.  I believe this is down to how we launched it, the long time scales so that it didn't all happen in the last week before the holidays, and the massive amount of support we gave.

Coming up next... How we actually going to do the upgrade and why the categories are important!

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