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#moodletrouble – Emergency Management at the IT Center

December 21st, 2020 | by

Probably no one who was involved in teaching missed it: At the beginning of the semester, there was something fishy about RWTHmoodle. The RWTH‘s teaching and learning platform had to deal with disruptions, overloads, and downtimes. Especially in a predominantly digital semester, it was of course crucial to stabilize the system and ensure trouble-free teaching again. Such significant disruptions naturally require special measures, so for the first time the “emergency situation” was declared in the IT Center.

View of the information page about current events in RWTHmoodle.

This is what it looks like: The information page about current events in the RWTHmoodle area.

The emergency situation is an instrument within the framework of the IT Center’s emergency management. It aims to activate all the necessary resources in a particularly targeted and rapid manner in order to be able to remedy disruptions promptly. An important component of the emergency situation was the Moodle crisis team, which was chaired by the IT Center’s managing director and in which all the departments and agencies involved were represented. The crisis team, which met daily from November 11 to November 27, 2020, was responsible for coordinating the necessary measures. On the one hand, these measures were of a technical nature – the upgrading of the infrastructure and the adaptation of various configurations so that the databases and web front-ends could also cope with high access numbers. On the other hand, this also included extended crisis communication. The overriding principle behind the crisis communication was to create the greatest possible transparency. For example, we created an information page in our IT Center Help documentation portal, which was directly linked to by overlays in the RWTHmoodle course rooms. The information page contains explanations of the situation, a list of the measures taken, and a link to all current RWTHmoodle status messages. In addition, important workarounds for our customers have been compiled here, such as instructions on how lecturers can extend the processing time of quizzes or how login to Dynexite is still possible in the event of an RWTHmoodle malfunction. The page can be found via the following link:

moodle.rwth-aachen.de/help

In addition to the information page, we informed all involved groups about current disruptions and measures by e-mails and via our social media channels.

This plethora of actions was a great effort for all involved persons – all the greater was the relief on November 27, 2020, when the teaching platform was stabilized to such an extent that the emergency situation could be ended. Although the official emergency situation is over, the work for the IT Center around RWTHmoodle continues, of course: The crisis team met twice a week until December 3, 2020, the information page remains online until further notice, and additional meetings between the responsible departments will take place in the future.

The entire situation has been comprehensively analyzed by the IT Center and measures have been initiated to increase the resilience of the learning platform and to further improve our emergency management.

Responsible for the content of this article is Susanne Kubiak.

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