Back on-line with Moodle

The update is finished and I’ve started testing the new version of moodle. Everything should be ready for the fall 2010 semester.

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Moodle update in progress

I’m updating the moodle server here at skoda.net. While I don’t expect a great outcry of students; there’s always one who checks in at the exact wrong time. I’m going to try the 2.0 release candidate out and see how I like it.

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My Copy of Windows Isn’t Genuine Anymore

Over the summer I’ve planned to revamp my CIS2230 System Admin course to include more Windows specific examples. I received a Windows 7 key from my department head in accordance with our college’s MSDN membership. I get Windows installed and type in the key and everything is fine for several months.

Last week I opened up my Windows 7 vm image and started working on labs and presentation notes only to find that my copy is somehow no longer valid.

Oh well, looks like my new Windows lecture will consist of, “Don’t use Windows on mission critical systems because you don’t want your server to stop working because of bad licensing code”

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Wifi fix for Macbook Pro with Snow Leopard

As many other Unibody Macbook Pro users with Snow Leopard have experienced, I too have had fairly poor WiFi connectivity. One suggestion is to boot into 32 bit mode. I normally boot into the 64 bit kernel and during a recent trip I only had access to a hotel’s 802.11b network.

In 64bit mode I had three bars of signal but had extremely limited connectivity with high latency. I rebooted into 32 bit mode (reboot the mac and hold the 3 and 2 keys down through the startup noise)

Latency issues dropped to zero and my overall throughput increased by 300%.

I’m not sure why this fixed my poor wifi connectivity. I wonder if Apple tests the 802.11b drivers anymore.

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Moodle: It’s the experience not the content

A February 25, 2010 posting suggesting that Moodle content is being kept out of the general public has been getting some traction on twitter today. The author correctly points out that most of the learning content on Moodle servers around the world is closed to the general public. The article goes on to lament the lost learning because of this closed Moodle approach.

You can go to http://opensource.com/education/10/2/moodle-open-source-closed-doors and read the whole article.

Moodle isn’t just a content management system it’s a learning management system and many of the best Moodle courses aren’t simple slide-flipper presentation with a quiz at the end. The truly
successful courses include teacher-student and student-student interactions. The true power of Moodle is the assignment system and the gradability of all the activities. The ease and flexibility of bringing a virtual instructor led course to a group of students using an on-line platform is what makes Moodle so popular and that’s why there are so many moodle servers with so much content.

Don’t forget that Moodle is being used by colleges as well as public schools. Students pay hefty sums in tuition to go to college and that premium price deserves a higher quality student experience. How would you feel if you paid your $30,000 and you had to share your Linux admin class with 29 other paying students and 200 free loaders? I use Moodle at VTC and I’ve got it locked down to only those students who are enrolled by the registrar in my course. They paid top dollar they deserve a top dollar experience and not an experience diluted by non-paying customers.

Even in a public school setting: the school network, the IT staff’s time, and the teacher’s salary all come out of one school’s budget. It’s unfair to take advantage of one school district because they Moodled their 8th grade US History course.

In the spirit of Open Source people could produce moodle courses and place them in a repository for use, there are tools in Moodle 2.0 to address this structure. But at the end of the day, the content producers are the ones responsible for sharing learning content, not the learning management system. Remeber: content alone doesn’t make a Moodle course. Great courses are a combination of good content and an active student group and an engaging instructor.

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Internet walled-gardens ARE a good idea

Given the growing risks of being connected to the Internet it’s becoming more advisable to connect to those particular services that one wants and exclude the rest.  This idea runs counter to a lot of marketing approaches from several companies/products, for example Droid.

The Droid vs iPhone marketing plan is to show that Droid is open and can do anything.  That message will resonate with some people, but the great unwashed masses don’t write computer programs and aren’t network security savvy.  They get sucked into the idea that they can do anything with their phone without risk or responsibility for maintenance.  The tag line should have a disclaimer “Droid can” then add “provided you trust the authors of 3rd party apps or do your own source code review and network connection analysis.”

People are already acclimated the walled-garden concept and have used it effectively in other parts of their lives.  Thousands of people go to Disney World every day.  They are willing to pay the premium admission price to get a known vacation experience.  Is that bad?  Is Disney evil? No, of course not.  There’s a selection of people who don’t want to plan, coordinate, and book their own vacation using unknown hotels, restaurants, and attractions.  The same is true for homes.  Some people prefer to live in gated communities or in housing developments with home-owners associations.

There are people who enjoy being unfettered in all part of their life, who go camping for vacations and do all their own work (tenting, cooking, cleaning, etc.)  There is a great sense of self-reliance and accomplishment when you do things for yourself and people who enjoy the work and understand the risks win great self-satisifaction from these activities.

The problem is that not everyone can hike the Grand Canyon for a week or sail the west coast of South America by themselves.  The same holds true for the Internet.  Not everyone can protect themselves from crime, fraud, and poorly written software. Buying a product that has access to a walled-garden (iPad for example) is an appropriate way to experience the Internet in a more protected way.

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Congratulations to the graduates

Good luck and Godspeed to all my former students who have graduated this past weekend.

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Radical changes to CIS-2230

Check out the posting in the forums titled: Radical New Changes for CIS-2230

I’m going the change some things about the on-line portion of the course to help steam line things.  Read the post BEFORE the 15th for a chance at some part points.

Update: The moodle install is complete and the course is setup.  The old forums at www.skoda.net/smf are now set READ ONLY.  You must post in the new forums in the new course from here on out.

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Quiz #4 is up and going

I had a little hicup with blackboard last night, but that’s all fixed now.  Quiz #4 is available for students now and will remain open for the next 24 hours.  Please make every effort to take the quiz.  You have to contact me BEFORE the quiz closes at 1PM on 11 March if you cannot take the quiz in order to reschedule a make-up.

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CIS 2230, System admin lecture 9

This lecture covers the shell in great and lengthy detail.

[quicktime]http://www.skoda.net/podcast/cis2230-ep9.m4a[/quicktime]

Enhanced Podcast:

[podcast ]http://www.skoda.net/podcast/cis2230-ep9.m4a[/podcast]

Plain MP3:

[podcast]http://www.skoda.net/podcast/cis2230-ep9.mp3[/podcast]

Slides will be uploaded tomorrow…

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