Shared Stories

Discover Inspiring Moodle stories from across the globe

Here you’ll discover the journeys and stories of people using Moodle for their training and teaching, and how Moodle Partners have helped solve their e-learning needs to sustain, succeed and improve education.

 

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INTRODUCTION 

Depart Smart is a nonprofit organization based in Minnesota, USA, working to reach, teach and engage travellers as active participants in their health and safety abroad.

Travel and tourism is a strong and profitable industry. However, most people do not know how to Depart Smart for the world. Simple things can make lifesaving differences, like registering trips with foreign affairs offices, having emergency numbers, knowing how to ask for help (or if you should), protecting yourself with vaccinations and travel insurance.

To address the issues above and help people to Depart Smart, the organization created the first consumer-driven, online travel safety certification.

The certification – TravelHEROES.org – provides travellers with a customized action plan so they can avoid trouble because they are informed of warnings and alerts, are insured, have preventive medicine, prepare their emergency contacts, and know how to get help and home safely to the people they love.

As a nonprofit, Depart Smart needed to find a cost effective learning platform that can also be accessible worldwide by every person who would like to travel safely to and from their home and destination.

PROBLEM 

Depart Smart recognized the demand from consumers for travel safety preparations. However, like many nonprofits, Depart Smart is a bootstrap organization with no full-time employees.

They wanted to create a rewarding course to save lives and help people navigate the world by preparing wisely. Their vision is a world where people help each other travel safely, in every language. In their search for the right platform, to save time and money, they took the advice of other businesses who had funds to write and manage in depth requests for proposals.

Based on their advice and referrals, Depart Smart started with Matrix LMS, which did not support saving students’ work through their SCORM. The organization was told that they needed up to USD $20,000 or more in LTI development and a long development time to make the course viable.

Not having the necessary funds to do more development, the organization used a Boolean Google search for “Quality Assurance SCORM LTI” which brought up Moodle!

ACTIONS

Depart Smart was able to have their online travel safe certification (TravelHEROES.org) up and running in Moodle. In one week they had paying customers, just in time for their Travel + Leisure advertisement in the September edition before 9 million viewers.

The team worked to also implement the following features in Moodle for TravelHEROES.org:

  • Customized a third-party theme, Strix, to custom brand the website
  • Configured the site as an LTI publisher for inclusion in external LMSs
  • Integrated eCommerce with PayPal and Stripe
  • Secured the site with an SSL certificate
  • Developed a Community Hub through Forums
  • Created customer portals with multi-tenant features using IOMAD
  • Setup Google Analytics and Google Adwords plugins
  • Implemented a help desk using a tracker plugin
  • Developed a Travel Safety Savvy quiz, SCORM and badges for the travel safety certification
  • Integrated MailChimp mailing lists with the Myddleware plugin
  • Implemented Coupons plugin
  • Used events monitoring rules to alert administrators of new users and course completion

Sheryl Hill, Executive Director and Founder of Depart Smart, commented: “Moodle saved our reputation, investment and potentially millions of dollars for our nonprofit. We seriously want to help the world travel awesome in lifesaving ways with Moodle.”

RESULTS

By using Moodle as the platform for delivering their online travel safe certification, Depart Smart’s SCORM did not have to be redeveloped. 

Travel HEROES in Moodle is now an engaging, animated, fun, gamification course that helps you and your loved ones Depart Smart with a customized Action Plan for your global destinations. 

The organization did not have an increase in budget but yet were able to get a more powerful learning platform that their users are complimentary about. 

“We scaled our certification and Moodle platform to offer tenant services for corporations who want to empower their employees to travel safely, and integrated a community where active Travel HEROES participants can help each other with decisions affecting their safety abroad.”

“These abilities are done with open source, no cost add-on to our important, philanthropic mission. Moodle helps us save lives.” 

The organization is also looking for community support to help translate Travel HEROES into every language for every country.

FURTHER INFORMATION 

For more information about Depart Smart and their Travel HEROES online course, please visit their website at www.departsmart.org and travelheroes.org respectively.

 

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INTRODUCTION 

Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education (IDIA) is a project founded by Prof (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer, with a mission to create community advocates and leaders from marginalized communities in India. 

The project does this by training underprivileged students (from families with incomes less than USD 2,500 per annum) to gain admissions to top law schools in India and supporting them in their journey thereafter. 

Currently in its seventh year of operations, IDIA is supporting more than 70 students, including 16 scholars with disabilities, studying at the top law schools in the country. 

The project is able to empower legal advocates and leaders by using the cost-effective and powerful Moodle learning platform to deliver their training.

PROBLEM 

In India, it costs close to USD 27,000 to complete a five year law course. To put this in perspective, 75% of the households in rural India earn less that USD 100 per month. 

In addition, of the 4.5 million students with disabilities in India, very few have access to quality higher education. Even in the few instances where they can afford coaching, inaccessible content and inaccessible learning systems act as barriers restricting their growth.
Commercial coaching for the entrance examinations to law schools is also prohibitively expensive. This poses an additional barrier for students from marginalized communities, and only increases the gap between the privileged and the underprivileged. 

As a result, national law schools in India, referred to by a former Prime Minister of India as “islands of excellence in an institutional sea of mediocrity” remain a distant dream for the underprivileged.

For the IDIA project to meet its mission of empowering underprivileged students through legal education, training and support will need to be delivered using a cost-effective platform that allows for collaborative learning and which is accessible across the rural regions in India.

ACTIONS

The Training and Materials (T&M) vertical at IDIA use Moodle to train underprivileged students for free for the entrance examinations to top law schools in India.

From the beginning, the organisers of the IDIA project were clear that they needed a platform that can be accessible to the able-bodied and the disabled learners. 

Moodle was deemed as the perfect solution to ensure that all IDIA materials remain accessible to their blind students and the organisers deployed simple solutions to ensure high levels of accessibility. For example, instead of CAPTCHA which is sometimes inaccessible to persons with visual disabilities, they installed email based registrations with their Moodle site. 

Siddhant Sachdeva, Moodler and co-team leader of the T&M vertical says: “The idea to use Moodle was floated at a time when IDIA’s Training and Materials team was brainstorming on efficient ways to coordinate the work of student volunteers based in different cities and come up with innovative ways of training.”

“At the time, we could never have envisioned working on and building the platform that we have today. In less than a year, we have been able to deliver high quality training materials with a diverse group of almost 30 volunteers from different states of India.”

“These volunteers created, uploaded, edited content online and the same wouldn’t be possible without the functionalities offered by the Moodle environment.” 

Moodle is also used to provide reasonable test taking accommodation for IDIA students with disabilities. In India, persons with disabilities, under law, are provided 20 minutes additional time for every one hour of an examination. Many commercial coaching centres do not provide this accommodation for persons with disabilities. Moodle enables IDIA to provide such accommodation with the click of a button. 

Shilpa Prasad, Moodler and co-team leader of IDIA’s T&M vertical, says: “Moodle helps us host content that would otherwise be inaccessible to those without the privilege of expensive knowledge. In building free content, it gives us the ability to bridge that gap and reach out to those in need.”

RESULTS

“IDIA’s experience with Moodle has been a fulfilling and enriching journey where we get to present a solution to the educational crises plaguing India,” says Anusha Reddy, Moodler and director in-charge of the Training and Materials vertical at IDIA. 

“Our key takeaway has been that with open access technology and passion, one can solve a problem by expending little to no financial resources.” 

As organisers of IDIA are lawyers with limited technology knowledge and expertise, Moodle has taught them to code, design and implement solutions to solve problems. They have also been beneficiaries of Moodle’s open community where so many people from around the world have played a critical role in building their platform, by answering questions in Moodle forums, by improving Moodle documentation and by developing plugins to further extend and enhance their Moodle site. 

“Like Moodle, IDIA is a volunteer driven collaborative effort to solve problems. Our ultimate vision of change is that of fostering transformative changes to the legal eco-system, such that IDIA itself becomes redundant over time! Till such time, we are onwards our journey of creating community leaders and advocates,” says Professor Basheer, Founder and Managing Trustee, IDIA. 

IDIA’s Moodle platform is accessible publicly for viewing. 

In creating this case study, IDIA would like to thank each and every person within the Moodle community and beyond, who have gone out of their way to help build their platform.

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New College Lanarkshire formerly Motherwell, Cumbernauld and Coatbridge College, have been using their constantly-evolving Moodle VLE for the past 7 years, while enjoying the benefits of the trouble-free hosting and support experience.

CHALLENGE

Selecting a Learning Management System (LMS) that helps achieve its academic plan is an important challenge for many educational institutions. Back in 2010, New College Lanarkshire formerly Motherwell College in Scotland, selected Enovation, a long-standing Moodle Partner, to provide a flexible LMS for their students as part of their eLearning strategic review.

In 2014, following the Government Reform of Post-16 Education and the College Regionalisation Agenda, Motherwell College merged with Cumbernauld College and Coatbridge College to form New College Lanarkshire, one of the largest colleges in Scotland, also recognised as the ‘Best College in the UK at World Skills’.

Having now a total of 20,000 students enrolled in a mix of full-time and part-time courses, the new faculty decided to invest in the latest technology to engage learners and ensure they have the highest calibre of resources. Part of the challenge was then to find a way to consolidate the learning management systems of the three Colleges, all based on Moodle.

SOLUTION

In 2010, New College Lanarkshire formerly Motherwell College decided to explore alternatives to replace the existing Blackboard LMS which had been the Virtual learning Environment (VLE) for a number of years. This resulted in the College opting for the open source learning platform, Moodle. This move, whilst presenting many challenges, including staff training, customising data structures and corporate design, provided the College with the opportunity to ‘shape’ the VLE to better suit the existing and future needs of the establishment. Comprehensive research was carried out to find a technical partner that could provide cost effective Moodle hosting and ongoing support services.

After a comprehensive tender process, Enovation was selected as the preferred Moodle partner based on their established track record in successfully providing a range of similar services to organisations in Ireland and the UK. After implementing a dedicated infrastructure to host Moodle, one of the key challenges was to migrate the content from Blackboard to Moodle. The pragmatic and clear migration process offered by Enovation was completed allowing testing of the migrated content and applying any changes to the migration script that might be necessary. The transition was successfully completed within the timescales given by the college so it would not interfere with the new academic term starting in August 2011.

In 2014, when New College Lanarkshire was formed, the three colleges had to merge their separate Moodle instances to form one consolidated VLE. Whilst Cumbernauld and Coatbridge Colleges had been operating all configuration, hosting and support of their Moodle platform in-house, it quickly became clear Enovation would be the preferred technical partner to operate the migration and provide hosting and support services, based on their proven expertise.

Enovation worked closely with New College Lanarkshire to migrate all instances and ensure all content was smoothly and swiftly transferred during the summer 2015. A Single Sign On (SSO) plugin was developed to centralise access control from all three LMSs and apply authentication policies to all users.

RESULTS

Improved learning experience: The new college has strongly been focusing on quality, with learning and teaching being central to the organisation. Moodle has been supporting the 1,000 staff, a number which doubled with the merger in 2014, ensuring learners have a positive and successful time during their further education, while making online teaching easier.

Customisation: Enovation has been applying a new custom theme to Moodle to reflect the identity of the new college. For the last 7 years, working with New College Lanarkshire, plugins have been developed to adapt to the specific needs of the students and teachers. Lately, the ‘Collapsed Topics’ plugin has been added to the college platform to solve the issue of the ‘Scroll of Death’ amongst the 1,600 courses available, making information more accessible.

Hosting: Enovation’s hosting solution on a dedicated powerful server allows plenty of storage space and unrivalled continuity of service.

Support: New College Lanarkshire appreciate the level of support Enovation provide, as they feel they have not been left alone since the project was delivered and there is always a quick turnaround from Enovation’s team when needed. One of the recent projects was for Enovation to upgrade the platform from Moodle 2.7 to 3.1.

ROI: New College Lanarkshire have remarked on the advantage of outsourcing the development, hosting and 24/7 support to a technical expert, allowing the college IT department to focus on other priority tasks. Thanks to Enovation, the college has saved on precious time and money and has been getting the best benefit from Moodle from day one.

‘For the past 7 years, Enovation have been our technical partner from the migration from Blackboard to Moodle and for the consolidation of the three Colleges Moodle instances into one.

Each time, staff at Enovation were particularly friendly and helpful in taking time to discuss and identify the exact requirements of our organisation to ensure a smooth transition. We also rely 100% on Enovation for the hosting and ongoing support of our platform, which means our IT staff can focus on their day-to-day job. Our partnership with Enovation has definitely been a time and money saviour for the college.’

Chris Jack, eLearning Technologist, New College Lanarkshire