Mississippi College, a long-time eThink client, recently upgraded to the new and improved Moodle version 3.2 and sought additional training to ensure their teachers would know how to navigate the new theme’s interface and take advantage of the enhanced features now available. Mississippi College scheduled remote training sessions with the eThink Services Team to provide thorough Moodle 3.2 training to their faculty. After the session, we interviewed Jessica Manzo, Director of Online Learning at the College. Here’s how it went!
Can you first tell us a little bit about your history with eThink?
My first order of business once hired to head up the online initiative at Mississippi College (MC) in 2010 was to secure a 3rd party web provider that would offer the LMS support we needed for a growing online program. I turned to eThink – Mississippi College was among the first 20-something original clients!
We were promised 2nd tier support and they fully prepared me with instructions and a walk-through on how to properly migrate some 200 courses from our home-grown system to eThink’s server. I am always grateful for the prompt support and guidance I’m offered by the eThink team!
Can you elaborate on how you use Moodle specifically at MC – what programs utilize the system and what areas do they use the most heavily?
All courses—traditional, hybrid and online—are to have a presence on Moodle. For traditional courses, instructors are expected to have the syllabus and handouts, and use Turnitin if necessary. Online and hybrid courses are more developed.
What do you think about the features and enhancements that are now available with Moodle 3.2?
Although I was hoping to see more significant updates in Gradebook management, I am overall very impressed with the changes in this version. Moodle HQ has done a great job of providing user-requested fixes and enhancements to top-used features.
There are a handful of notable changes in Moodle 3.2, including the new fully-responsive default theme, Boost, which provides an upgraded user interface and additional customization options for a branded instance. Additionally, User tours have now become a standard feature. There have also been numerous enhancements to activities, including Forums, Choice, and Messaging.
The biggest change in 3.2 that will impact our users is finding the “edit settings” options in the new user interface, as well as continuing to build and use Gradebook.
What features of Moodle 3.2 most contributed to your decision to upgrade now?
I believe in keeping updated, regardless of features. That said, eThink does a great job of keeping us aware of the latest releases and scheduling upgrades for during school holidays/summer downtime. It was also important to make sure faculty were upgraded and trained before the Fall semester for a seamless transition for our students and faculty.
What were your initial motivations for pursuing Moodle 3.2 training?
In my experience, instructors respond best to live webinars and workshops. Especially with a significant upgrade as 3.2, it was important to me to ensure that faculty were made aware of the changes, as well as receive a “refresher” on Moodle use. It is also nice that eThink offers both an on-site training option as well as a webinar format. eThink has always been good in helping us to prepare for changes.
What were the major takeaways of the Moodle 3.2 training?
There are many changes with Moodle 3.2 both visually and functionally. The training was helpful to give faculty a heads up with the changes that would come with the new look. This gave them an opportunity to get comfortable with things before they were expected to work in the new platform. Having recordings of our tailored training sessions provided to us, to use in conjunction with the eThink training courses will be helpful as we move forward. I am also happy about the User tours that eThink customized for us, and I believe they will assist tremendously in helping faculty become accustomed to the new look.
What was it that you were looking to accomplish by taking the training? Do you believe you accomplished these goals?
We hoped to provide thorough exposure of the latest version to our faculty, which we accomplished. Additionally, the resources we have at our disposal, including the eThink training courses and recordings of our sessions with the eThink Services Team, will help to ensure a smooth transition for our users as we move forward.
Professional Development by eThink
eThink not only makes sure that our clients stay up to date with LMS versioning to take advantage of the newest features and fixes, but we provide the tools to make sure each client is comfortable with the most recent changes.
To ensure our clients are maximizing the newest versions, eThink offers professional development services in the form of administrative, or “Train the Trainer” sessions, Introductory and Intermediate Faculty trainings, as well as personalized sessions that reflect the specific needs of our clients.
The upgrades in Moodle 3.2 are significant enough that more than half of our clients who have been upgraded have also scheduled training sessions with our Moodle experts.
Thank you, Jessica, for the great feedback – and happy Moodling!