Sunday, 14 July 2013

Learning curves

Learn2 became Learn on 1 July - it's now the default LMS for Canterbury students. The existing system, now known as Learn1, still has courses that run all year - they'd have lost data like marks in the move, so they have to stay put.

On the 8th of July teaching began, with potentially 10,000 or more students wanting to use the system. To our relief, it held up fine. Most people seem happy, though a few have had problems - most notably, people wanting to read PDF files on iPads - the PDF opens in a pop-up, with no scroll, save, etc. We'll get that sorted out soon.

Next phase - moving the S1 courses ready for next February. That will happen in the second half of August. Then the W (whole year) courses in December, and we're nearly done - some odds and ends of non-standard courses to move, and we switch off the Learn1 system in February or March next year.

For any curious techies: we're running Moodle 2.4 with a custom theme named Decaf, written by Lei Zhang, a previous developer in our team, and Paul Nicholls, our present developer. The servers are VMs running Red Hat Enterprise Linux. There are three web servers and a cron/backup server, a single MySQL database server, with the IBM SONAS disk storage system keeping the data safe. At the front end is a BigIP F5; a firewall, load balancer, proxy - it probably makes a cup of tea if you ask it properly. Learn/Moodle has been pretty fast since Paul switched the database to use InnoDB as its engine, rather than MyISAM - the ISAM engine locked the entire log table every time it wanted to write an entry, and caused cascading go-slows, so we're glad to have an alternative.

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