Why we are moving Learning Resources into a Digital Repository
The current Moodle 1.9 USQStudyDesk environment includes about 1.5 Terabytes of study materials, which include lecture recordings up to Semester 1 2011, and restricted copyright Books of Readings, which are held in the Equella system named DiReCt. Lecture recordings are now stored on an additional server. Study materials in Moodle 1.9 date back to 2008.
Moodle 2.1 contains the same, and an additional level, of tools as Moodle 1.9. For example, Resources, Activities, Blocks, and Forums. Some features have been significantly enhanced, such as Quiz. Much of the change is ‘under the hood’, with two notable exceptions. First, new navigation elements have been added, such as a ‘dock’, and options for placement and presence of Blocks. Second, file management.
The expectation throughout the investigation and impact analysis for the Moodle upgrade, and planning for the execution of the upgrade, was that study materials/content would be located within Moodle 2 in much the same way as it had in version 1.9. The Moodle developers have addressed shortcomings of Moodle 1.9 file management by creating a new relationship of files to Courses specifically through, and integration with, digital repositories. USQ has done what a lot of other Universities have previously done and, used Moodle as both a learning management system and a content management system for study materials. It is no longer appropriate that the Moodle environment be used as a content management system.
In Moodle 2, the old way of storing study materials will work poorly, create frustration and have management issues. The significance of this was highlighted at MoodleMoot (July, 2011) which was attended by a number of USQ staff, including two from the upgrade project. The change was also highlighted to a local audience at USQ on 14 September,2011 by Netspot.
For Moodle 2.2 storing Course Resources using the ‘legacy Course Files’ approach will only be used as an interim measure. Legacy Course Files have a number of drawbacks:
- Poor file security, so an inability to enforce Copyright rules or control access.
- Broken links to Course Resources if the files are moved or deleted.
- Massively increase Course backup size making course rollover and backup problematic.
- Impossible to have files reused across Course Resources or in other Courses. Many redundant copies will be required.
- Files are named and stored in Moodle using a ‘hash’ method, so are nearly impossible to locate and identify outside Moodle. This in unlike Moodle 1.9 where files have their original name and are stored in a folder named after the Course.
The most effective solution is to implement an integrated digital repository for USQStudyDesk when it is upgraded to Moodle 2. This will add improved content management functions for better security, permit automated management of Copyright, enable reuse of content files, and assist management of the large volume of Course files. This was endorsed by a special meeting of the Moodle 2 Project Board on 29 September, and the scope change to the Moodle 2 Upgrade project was approved by the February meeting ICT Strategy Committee.