Moodle Takes Romania

Moodle is a PHP script that helps organizations distribute information or deliver courses to students.“The vast majority (85 percent) of Romania’s 105 universities are now using Moodle, an open source e-learning platform” It’s usually run on LAMP (GNU/Linux, Apache, MySQL/MariaDB, and PHP) and is simple to set up on a server. It does take a bit of study to use as a teacher but it’s mostly self-explanatory for students. All they need is an initial URI and sometimes a password/userid.

I’ve used Moodle many times in computer labs. It’s a great way to give prompt feedback to students and to keep a record of grades. Students tend to perform well if they know how they are doing and that their efforts get results. It’s a beautiful solution for schools because the FLOSS licence permits installation with no bureaucracy nor hits to the budget. There can be some small hitches. I just installed Moodle on Beast and I had to add one package, php5-curl, and I had to add a line in /etc/mysql/my.cnf, “binlog_format=ROW“. No biggies. Google was my friend. It’s not much different from many PHP scripts I’ve installed on servers. If an incompetent like myself (according to DrLoser) can do it, anyone can.

See Nearly all of Romania’s universities use Moodle.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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4 Responses to Moodle Takes Romania

  1. DrLoser blathered on, “You’d already decided to go to Linux. You weren’t really interested in trying out alternative strategies.”

    I spent months trying to fix that other OS. I set up backup servers to do the imaging, for XP, not GNU/Linux. I got in state of the art antivirus package which I personally installed and had to walk around to machines to tweak. All that work was not enough. I still had to constantly put machines back together and the malware piled up. I think the record was 1000 malwares or something acquired in a couple of months. We had to render XP almost useless with .exe permissions/checksums so that other OS could hang together. Finally, about November, I told the principal I had had enough. I explained the problems I was having. I wrote the memos giving him a full account of what I had done and what was not working and showed him and other teachers GNU/Linux running circles around XP on identical hardware. At the time not one staff member objected. It was only months later a new teacher demanded that other OS for less capability…

    SO, STFU! You weren’t there and you can’t read minds especially in a time-warp.

  2. DrLoser, being useful, wrote, “As long as it’s sandboxed, you should be OK”.

    I am retired and don’t intend to use Moodle ever again. I only installed it to see how the process has gone. It’s highly automated and messages are useful to figure out the requirements. The only real problem I had was “zoom”. I had the “OK” signs off-screen to the right… It took a while to realize that the list of things on the screen were “OK” and not a problem… I have no idea what they are doing with curl, but, on a LAN in a school I doubt much malware would target that especially if that other OS is out of the picture. Moodle does not seem to be a high-value target. I imagine only some students wanting to tweak grades would be an issue. Students with such capability probably deserve high grades anyway… Again, if security is a concern, all kinds of layers can be added like making as much as possible read-only, keeping the server private for Moodle, etc. In schools, I usually made it available only to the thin clients so that intrusions into the rest of the school would have a few layers to get through, or students in the lab would have a few layers to get out to mess with anything there. I’ve been in schools that had teachers’, office, and students’ PCs all on different physical LANs. It’s a small cost of redundancy for a large level of security, a good investment. Many schools have separate subnets with no routing allowed between etc.

  3. DrLoser says:

    A small word of warning. I haven’t examined php5-curl, but by the nature of both curl and php5, it’s a potential security hazard.

    As long as it’s sandboxed, you should be OK.

  4. DrLoser says:

    If an incompetent like myself (according to DrLoser) can do it, anyone can.

    I’m guessing (because in this case you have failed to link to your own website) that you refer to my comments on your XP glitches back in the day. If not, and if you can quote me as calling you “incompetent,” then I would be happy to offer an apology.

    Thing about that anti-XP rant of yours, Robert … it didn’t show you up as incompetent at all. What with being anecdotal, it didn’t really say much about anything. The one thing you did mention that a lack of backup capacity was a major part of your decision, which I attempted to rebut by citing XP Restore Points.

    I’m guessing, but I suspect that two factors are at work here.

    1) Whatever happened back then prompted Confirmation Bias. You’d already decided to go to Linux. You weren’t really interested in trying out alternative strategies.
    2) Your memory is hazy. So is mine, for that matter. I tell anecdotes all the time about what I did at work, ten years ago, but … some of the details might be slightly undependable.

    And none of this matters. You are entirely at liberty to promote the many and various benefits that your school-wide Linux client-server solution produced.

    There’s just no reason to completely misrepresent the alternative, is there? I’m afraid that “I couldn’t be bothered to look it up” is not really a good reason to claim that Microsoft let you down, somehow.

    There can be some small hitches. I just installed Moodle on Beast and I had to add one package, php5-curl, and I had to add a line in /etc/mysql/my.cnf, “binlog_format=ROW”. No biggies. Google was my friend. It’s not much different from many PHP scripts I’ve installed on servers.

    Well, it seems like fairly shoddy packaging to me, but then again I’m used to better. Indeed part of my current job is to produce better turnkey packaging.

    But, yes, Moodle is your friend and if you want a CRM for schools that, in all honesty, you probably won’t be able to configure much beyond those two small “make it work” bits and you won’t be able to modify because it’s PHP, then it meets your needs. In the end, that’s all that software needs to do.

    Interesting that the dot-com version of the website makes no mention of the downloads, though. Pseudo-proprietary software by stealth, perhaps?

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