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Happy Birthday, RWTHmoodle!

May 31st, 2021 | by

Wow, RWTHmoodle is already two years old! On the occasion of this event, we would like to reminisce with you and give you a little preview of the future.

In recent years, digitization has also influenced the way we teach and learn: In addition to purely classroom-based courses with written scripts, as older semesters are still familiar with, digital learning concepts and course rooms are increasingly coming into focus. These are designed to complement existing face-to-face courses, make teaching interactive, and adapt learning to students’ requirements in terms of time.

How it all started

Until 2019, L2P was the central teaching and learning platform at RWTH Aachen University. In the course of the “Digitization Strategy for Teaching at RWTH Aachen University“, it was decided to switch to Moodle as open source software. After a successful test and pilot phase, RWTHmoodle was adopted for university-wide operation in the summer semester of 2019.

In particular, the Corona pandemic clearly demonstrated the importance of digitalization in the field of teaching. Thus, the summer semester 2020 became the first purely digital semester at RWTH.

With RWTHmoodle, the cooperation partners IT Center and Center for Teaching and Learning Services (CLS) offer lecturers and students at RWTH an innovative way to collaborate. This means that RWTH is not only using an up-to-date teaching and learning platform, but the university is also participating in the worldwide Moodle community at the same time. RWTH has been a Gold Member of the Moodle Users Association since May 2018.

Standing still is not an option

As part of the Moodle community, we are actively involved in the further development of Moodle. For example, we have developed the “PDF Annotation” plug-in, which has even received an award from the community.

At the same time, we also benefit from the developments of other community members and can continuously adapt RWTHmoodle to the requirements of our users with plug-ins and features. Through our annual RWTHmoodle user surveys, we regularly receive feedback and are able to incorporate this into further development.

Especially during the Corona pandemic, we can benefit from the large community. This allows us to exchange information with other universities on how they are upgrading their Moodle systems in this special situation, how they are implementing the requirements of teaching operations, and what pitfalls await us.

Transparency even in times of crisis

At the beginning of the 2020/21 winter semester, RWTHmoodle simply had the bug. The platform had to deal with disruptions, overloads and outages – #moodletrouble. Especially in a primarily digital semester, it was of course urgent to stabilize the system and ensure smooth teaching operations again.

The main principle behind crisis communication was to create the greatest possible transparency. Thus, we created and continuously expanded an information page in our documentation portal IT Center Help with an explanation of the situation, a list of the measures taken, a link to all current RWTHmoodle status messages and important workarounds. In addition, we have continuously informed all involved groups about current disruptions as well as measures taken by sending e-mails to the lecturers, the AStA, providers of third-party systems and the deans of studies as well as by including our social media channels.

We can also do digital exams

Exams scheduled in face-to-face format for the 2020/21 winter semester have been postponed several times in hopes of retaining the original exam format. Due to the ongoing Corona pandemic, these exams had to be converted to distance learning formats. This ultimately resulted in some of these exams even being taken in the digital teaching mode of the summer semester 2021.

In order to avoid disruptions, overloads and outages like #moodletrouble and to ensure smooth teaching and exam operations, we introduced an additional temporary Moodle instance (temp-Moodle) to conduct Take Home Exams as of 12.04.2021. As of this date, RWTHmoodle has again been used exclusively for teaching at RWTH.

Attention spoiler: What actually happened to L2P?

As briefly mentioned at the beginning, L2P was replaced by RWTHmoodle in the summer semester 2019 and has since then only served as an archive. But what will happen to L2P in the future? Will L2P be shut down completely? To be continued… in the coming weeks!

 

Responsible for the content of this article are Anastasios Krikas and Nicole Kaminski.

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