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Moodle Research and Planning FAQ

  • This information provides answers to the most common questions asked about Moodle Research and Planning topics.

    I currently utilize the internal e-mail function within WebCT and I understand that Moodle does not include this functionality. What is the status of this situation?

    The official version of Moodle does not include an e-mail function. However, Moodle does include assignment, forum, and messaging tools that may replace the function of WebCT e-mail for some faculty. In addition, some IUP faculty members use message routing and the course-section e-mail lists (CSEL) within imail to isolate Moodle e-mail messages. Depending upon how a faculty member is using WebCT e-mail, such a set-up may provide some relief. Faculty members seeking support related to this transition can contact the IT Support Center.

    What options will exist if these tools do not provide the functionality I need to replace WebCT e-mail?

    The Moodle user community utilizes a concept known as “contributed modules and plug-ins” in which users share additional functions they have created to extend Moodle functionality. IRT personnel are engaged in researching the contributed e-mail modules to see if any provide functionality similar to WebCT e-mail.

    If research reveals that a "contributed" Moodle e-mail module exists, when will it be made available to IUP faculty?

    IRT personnel face four primary priorities related to implementation of Moodle. These include 1.) the continued production operation of WebCT, 2.) the continued production of Moodle, 3.) the creation and delivery of significant Moodle training and documentation, and 4.) the conversion of course materials from WebCT to Moodle. WebCT operations, course conversions, and training/documentation tasks are all scheduled to diminish during the second half of 2010. It is anticipated that Council of Deans will support migrating IRT resources to deploy the module accordingly.

    Why didn’t IUP resolve the internal e-mail issue prior to implementing Moodle?

    There are several reasons for this decision. Although some IUP faculty members, who reviewed Moodle in 2008, expressed disappointment in the lack of an internal e-mail function, it was not recommended to delay implementation until a replacement was found, particularly since the WebCT contract expires on June 30, 2010, and due to the fact that other Moodle tools and imail could be utilized at least temporarily. There also was not a universally accepted replacement because some contributed modules did not work with the current Moodle version, and others were simply "quick send" interfaces to the institution’s e-mail system.

    Since Moodle is an Open Source product, couldn’t IUP either write its own e-mail function or outsource the creation of this function, instead of waiting to review and implement a contributed module?

    As stated, IRT staff is fully deployed in executing its four primary priorities related to this implementation besides their other duties—so internal development is impractical until some point after the implementation is completed. There are currently no funds to outsource the development. However, WebCT license funds will become available beginning with the 2010–2011 fiscal year and could be redeployed for Moodle-related development, and this is a possibility for resolving the issue. IUP does intend to be cautious in its use of source code that is not part of official Moodle. Introducing unofficial code can escalate the risk of bugs, add to maintenance costs, and interfere with upgrades.