The first project I worked on since I joined Doing Better, was the migration of 80+ courses from Sakai to Moodle. This was for one of our partners, Mhasmo. EIT, a client of Mhasmo, had been using Sakai LMS as platform for all their courses and asked us to migrate most of them to another Learning Management System, Moodle. When I was asked to work on this project, I had never heard of Sakai, and was pretty much new to Moodle. So, the first thing I did was explore both and find out about their options and features.
Sakai is a free learning management system by and for higher education. It provides a flexible and feature-rich environment for teaching, learning, research and other collaboration. As an open-source learning system developed by its adopter community, the system continually evolves in step with the needs of the students, faculty members and organizations it serves.
Moodle is an open-source learning management system. It was originally developed to help educators create online courses with focus on interactions and collaborative construction of content. Moodle is easy to use with clear explanations and demo’s in case you are new. The site has beautiful features with a range of themes to change the look and functionality of the site or an individual course. Besides the basic features, Moodle offers over 1600 plugins available for download to extend the features and improve your courses with.
Our client decided to move from Sakai to Moodle because Moodle has a more modern look and is user friendly even to people who have never seen a learning management system before. Besides, Moodle has a bigger selection of options.
To migrate the courses, it seemed as though the only thing we needed to do was ‘copy and paste’. Of course, this was not as simple as it sounds. If you copy the text from a course page from Sakai and paste the text into Moodle, it may look alright. However, when you take a look behind the scenes, not only the text has been copied but the html codes as well. This means that links and resources will still refer to files on Sakai, which will cause the course not to work when the courses in Sakai are deleted or deactivated.
Most of the courses did not exist of only text, but included quizzes, documents and assignments as well. Documents needed to be saved from Sakai, then uploaded to the course in Moodle and eventually linked to the right course page. Quizzes could not be migrated easily either but needed to be created again in Moodle. Luckily, once a quiz is created, it is stored in the question bank. When you need the same quiz for another course, you can simply import it from this bank.
Both Sakai and Moodle have an option to create assignments in a course. When you need students to be able to give each other feedback on their work, you will need to enable the workshop activity in Moodle. Workshop includes four phases (setup, submission, assessment, grading) and guides you through the activity step by step.
In Sakai, you need to go to the assignment tool and select use peer assessment under additional options. This is followed by filling in a few settings, and then students can give their feedback.
We noticed this difference between both assessment options and needed to make sure we would get the same result in Moodle as we would in Sakai. The client was unknown with Moodle’s workshop activity. We needed to explain the way it works very clearly in order to make the new platform as user friendly as possible. We did this by giving on site workshops in Amsterdam and Helsinki and providing customized documentation.
The project took quite some time, mainly because of the amount of work that needed to be done. All activities during the migration needed to be done with high level of accuracy in order to work correctly. During the review rounds we discovered that some resource links were not working because of the redirection back to Sakai. Because a project such as this migration is not common, there was little experience on this specific procedure. We learned a lot of new things during the process. We listened carefully to the client to make sure their new learning environment would meet all their requirements and more.
Overall, I really enjoyed working on the Moodle migration project. I learned a lot during the migration, which was helpful for future Moodle projects. Being able to stay focused for a long time turned out to be a good and much needed quality to have for this project. One thing I immediately learned, is that communication is key. As long as you make sure to always communicate clearly and keep all parties, internally but also Mhasmo and EIT, updated on the current activities, you will not lose the overview on the project, even if it includes almost a hundred courses.