For nearly four years, Lambda Solutions has been working closely with BCcampus on their Moodle Shared Service. This collaboration has assisted twelve B.C. colleges and universities in using Moodle, many with multiple Moodle instances. The benefits of deploying Moodle through BCcampus Shared Services are numerous, including leveraging existing deployment expertise, significant cost savings, and centralized stable infrastructure.
A BCcampus program called Shared Services assists B.C. public-post secondary institutions in exploring educational applications for teaching and learning. By bringing multiple institutions together to pool requirements, it creates a community of support in acquiring and supporting educational technology. “Shared Services provides post-secondary institutions with a scalable, systemic, and sustainable foundation for e-Learning services,” says Lawrence Parisotto, Director of Collaborative Program and Shared Service Initiatives. “The cross-institution collaboration assists in reducing software and infrastructure costs by pooling demand and negotiating system-wide licenses and services.”
In March 2008, BCcampus began a pilot project with Lambda Solutions, exploring Moodle as a learning management solution. Nearly four years later, any B.C. post secondary institution can access Lambda as a dedicated Moodle service provider through BCcampus Shared Services. Currently, twelve B.C. institutions have various Moodle instances supported by Lambda Solutions.
THE LAMBDA EXPERIENCE
Lambda works with each participating institution to ensure they are able to analyze, develop, design, deploy and support Moodle. For B.C. universities and colleges participating in the Moodle Shared Services, they are treated as unique customers. “We work directly with the schools participating in BCcampus Shared Services just like any other customer,” says Lambda Solutions CEO Shevy Levy. “We focus on how Moodle can meet their particular needs and be successfully used at their institution.”
Each BCcampus member follows a business process, from an expression of interest, to drafting a project charter and project plan through an interactive process including evaluation and operationalization. Our work with each of them includes:
- Installation of Moodle and various plug-ins;
- Training for faculty, course creators, and administrators;
- Integration of existing systems based on the needs of the school, such as Banner, Mahara, etc;
- Assistance in moving from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.x;
- Working closely with schools in developing themes and course templates;
- Hosting of Moodle installations in partnership with BCcampus through Simon Fraser University (SFU).
The scope of Moodle use is controlled by the individual institution on a case-by-case basis. Some members are only utilizing Moodle in specific departments, or just exploring the possibilities of Moodle. Other institutions, such as Kwantlen Polytechnic University, are planning on migrating very large Moodle instances consisting of hundreds of courses and thousands of users to Shared Services. “The scope of use is dependent on the needs of the school,” says Parisotto. “Some are at a boutique level of a single instance; others have four or five Moodle instances. Through the business process, the needs and expectations of all parties are clearly mapped out with Lambda Solutions.”
EXTRA VALUE TO ALL INSTITUTIONS
The BCcampus Shared Services model creates an additional number of benefits to B.C. post-secondary institutions. Beyond significant direct cost-savings for participating schools, Shared Services construct a community of support and development. Lambda has been able to provide a variety of services across all institutions, including professional development workshops, ongoing technical support, and sharing best-practices in using Moodle. This network minimizes the learning curve for all schools and assists them in quickly adopting Moodle as an ideal solution.
Lambda has also worked closely with BCcampus in upgrading the underlying technology infrastructure supporting Moodle for all participating institutions. Over the last year, Lambda worked with BCcampus and SFU in deploying VMWare, greatly improving reliability and the end-user experience. Now, each Moodle instance is supported through its own Virtual Machine, using SFU’s “cloud” infrastructure. By providing a robust single technology solution to support all Moodle institutions, universities save resources through the efficiencies of centralized hosting and support.
The success of this model between Lambda and BCcampus was shared at the 2011 Moodle Moot in Edmonton. “For participating B.C. Campus institutions, Moodle Shared Services provides excellent value,” says Levy. “This model allows significant cost savings for dedicated support in deploying and supporting Moodle. Colleges and universities are able to extract the value of Moodle to better meet the needs of their students and educators.”