Best practices: Preparing your courses for upgrading from Moodle™ 1.9 to 2

The official release of Moodle™ 2 happened more than two years ago and there are still a lot of people who have not yet had the opportunity to experience the improvements made to the new interface. According to the statistics available in Moodle.org by the end of January 2013 less than a quarter of all Moodle™ registrations were using Moodle™ 2 or higher.

This number of course is changing every day and I believe it will increase significantly in the upcoming months since many institutions are preparing to upgrade their existing site to Moodle™ 2. In fact here at Open LMS we are providing services to numerous organizations who are willing to upgrade their 1.9 sites. By this coming summer we will have moved nearly 400 sites to the Joule 2 platforms.

As a teacher when I first looked at Moodle™ 2 I was completely impressed with the enhancements included inside the courses. I was particularly happy with the optimized navigation the options to restrict access the completion conditions and the simplified method to add files. I believe you will have similar feelings once you have the opportunity to experience courses in the new version of the platform. In order to get you prepared for a smooth transition I am going to highlight five best practices that can assist you during the upgrade process from Moodle™ 1.9 to 2.

Clean up your courses files:

In Moodle™ 1.9 teachers had to upload files into the course files directory and then link them to a resource/activity in order to display and share the file with students. The files added to the directory did not necessarily need to be used in the course. So teachers ended up using the course files directory as a personal folder to store documents that were not being used inside the course. As a result 1.9 course backups are typically larger than they should be. Now in Moodle™ 2 teachers can upload files directly to an activity or resource. Therefore eliminating the need for the course files directory. When preparing your courses for upgrading to 2 evaluate the files in the your course files area. Make sure files you want students to access are linked to a resource/activity. Download and delete files that are not in use and students do not need to access. This clean up will allow for a smoother upgrade to Moodle™ 2 since all linked files will be automatically transferred to their respective modules.

Write summaries for your resources:

Every Moodle™ 1.9 resource has an area under general settings where teachers can put a descriptive summary. Many 1.9 teachers do not add summaries because it is a non-required field. The Summary field in Moodle™ is a required field by default for the site (unless the site administrator changes it) and has been renamed to Descriptions. One benefit of this change is that teachers can also opt to display this description on the course front page. When upgrading a course the summaries in the 1.9 resources automatically convert to Moodle™ 2 descriptions. When you edit the upgraded resource and try to save it you’ll be required to enter a description. You can save the hassle and time of adding a description to all of your resources after the upgrade by going to your 1.9 courses and adding a summary to them now.

Check for compatible features:

Most of the commonly used features are ready for use in Moodle™ 2 but some of the features and plug-ins found in 1.9 sites are not available in Moodle™ 2 because they have not been upgraded yet have been discontinued or have been replaced with enhanced features. For this reason I recommend that you to reference the Open LMS Plug-in Matrix and review the plug-ins available in Joule 2. Then return to your courses and delete any non-available feature or replace it with a plug-in currently supported in the new platform. Do this to avoid having difficulties during the upgrading process. If not your Moodle™ 2 will most likely not show the missing plug-in and you could potentially see errors in the restore process as well.

Back up your courses:

Saving backups is a best practice for any evolving electronic file and you should do the same for your Moodle™ courses. Please back up your courses and save them on a personal hard drive in case there is an issue during the upgrade of your site. In order to avoid restoring issues I recommend that you create a course backup file without any user data. If there is an error during the site upgrade process you can restore and upgrade the backup files individually in any site that uses Moodle™ 2.3 or higher.

Familiarize yourself with Moodle™ 2:

Preparing yourself to work in Moodle™ 2 is also very important. In order to use the new features effectively you must become comfortable with the functional changes in the student and teacher roles. I recommend all of you to start getting familiar with Moodle™ 2 as soon as you decided to upgrade your site. Open LMS has developed several resources to assist you in this activity; we have even a free course that you can enroll. In order to take advantage of this offering you need to create an account on our training site (or use the one you have already created) access the course What's New in 2: Open Resources and enter the key: joule2freecourse. We also have more detailed courses available for purchase titled “What's New in 2: Instructor” and “What's New in 2: Administration”.

Upgrading a live system is not an easy task; however if you follow the tips I highlighted today it can ease your upgrade process. If you are interested in learning more about how to upgrade your site to Joule 2 please visit our Training & Support Plans page to find more information on training and support.

Thanks

~Marcelo

Carl

Carl

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