Upgrading from Moodle 1.9 to 2.0

As is now apparent on the eTeach page (accessible via the menu bar above), I have installed a new eTeach web site running Moodle 2.0. Moodle 2.0 has a number of new and cool features which I look forward to using (some now and others later).

I have found Moodle's installation is one of the nicest open source web application-based installations as long as I have been using it (i.e., since approximately version 1.6) and now one can also install it via the command line too! Unfortunately, upgrading from the latest 1.9 release to version 2.0 was not as smooth as past upgrades. The main issues I experienced involved the database upgrade which were a series of table transformations. The most common issue I experienced was the NOT NULL constraint being added to columns. Those were easy fixes: I was able to add reasonable data to the NULL fields violating such or I could safely remove the record. Where I ran into a brick wall concerning the Wiki tables: there were apparently illegal UTF-8 characters. I tried all sorts of things including dumping the database, running iconv on it, and restoring it. Nothing worked.

Having spent too much time trying to fix the wiki tables, I decided to make the old eTeach site URI map to "eteach1" and install Moodle 2.0 as a new install to "eteach2". If there is anything that I need from the old one, I can copy-and-paste, or, backup and then restore the course. This is much simpler, practical and far less time-consuming! The installation of Moodle 2.0 as a new install was flawless except for one issue: $CFG->dbfamily was not in the config.php file and had to be manually added for the cron.php script to fully work.

I suspect the problems I experienced migrating from 1.9 to 2.0 were due to past database upgrades. Originally, the database was not UTF-8 and bugs/errors may have given rise to the NULL entries in records. This is not surprising since I've being using this copy since version 1.6.

Why upgrade? The features in Moodle 2.0 far outweigh what is version 1.9, especially with the improved wiki and the ability to make activities dependent. I look forward to using it and should you be in one of my courses, I hope you enjoy using it! If so and you have ideas/suggestions, feel free to do so!

OSSTF Tools and Toys Conference Presentations

On October 28th and 29th, I gave two presentations at the OSSTF Tools and Toys: Technology in Education conference held in Toronto, Ontario. The first presentation I made (on Workshop Session B, Oct. 28th) was:

Understanding Internet Identity, Safety, and Privacy Issues Workshop
The Internet is a wonderful medium enabling students, teachers, and society to interact with one another around the world in real-time. However, there are real dangers that the Internet poses for everyone, especially for teachers using such within his/her lessons plans. This Workshop is designed to inform teachers, using non-technical language, what a number of these dangers are, how they operate, and what can be done to avoid these issues in order to keep such exercises safe.

In this presentation I explained the well-known issues, but, I also focused a lot of attention concerning these two issues: (i) the perils of blocking content and the fact that many students (and some teachers!) use proxies and/or tunnels to bypass such; and (ii) how to determine whether or not a teacher should use Internet web sites (versus controlled-for-education web sites, e.g., school-board-hosted sites). Despite the details in the talk being necessarily somewhat heavy, the talk was very well-received and understood.

The second presentation I made was (Workshop D, Oct. 29th):

Augmenting the Classroom Experience Outside the Classroom With E-Learning Workshop
As a teacher, there are times when one would like to have the ability to do something available outside the classroom for students and possibly their parents, e.g., schools where students cannot stay after school due to catching a bus. This presentation will show how this can be done incrementally using a Learning Management System (LMS) called Moodle.

During this talk networking (e.g., servers running on my laptop) and Internet issues prevented me from demonstrating the things I was presenting. (Networking connectivity in the presentation areas was an issue at the conference. Unfortunately, my own laptop configuration with servers, etc. had an issue which prevented me from demonstrating it without a network.)

Should you wish, feel free to contact me concerning either of the above presentations.