York University achieves record high in Moodle usage

Woman typing on a keyboard

Moodle use at York University is hitting new records.

Last September, Moodle usage climbed to a stunning 8,000 users per hour. This fall, the 2019-20 academic year got off to a spectacular start when 8,928 users accessed the system between 11 a.m. and noon on Sept. 10.

This analytics diagram shows the peak usage of Moodle during the first few days of the fall term

Breaking records without breaking the system takes a tremendous effort behind the scenes to keep the online platform robust and working seamlessly. Moodle is an online learning management system and it is one of the cornerstones of technology-enhanced learning at York University.

Educators use Moodle to create lessons, manage course content, and interact online with their students and colleagues. Students use Moodle to review their course syllabi, submit assignments, take quizzes, and interact with course instructors and other students.

To ensure the Moodle system could handle the forecasted load, staff in University Information Technology (UIT) spent the summer preparing for the fall rush. Not only did they upgrade the Moodle application to its latest release, they also upgraded the database application to a high-performing version and installed state-of-the-art virtual servers. Every attribute of the platform was tested and retested to ensure that Moodle would be ready for the September rush.

“We threw everything at it during the summer months to see if it would break,” said Peter Rowley, director of applications and integration in UIT. “[Moodle] handled it beautifully, so we were confident it would hold up well during live usage.” This was certainly the case, as the week of high traffic passed without any service interruptions.

The usage peaks during the September rush are also a reflection of the extent to which Moodle is being adopted by faculty and students. “One year ago, Moodle reached a 100 per cent utilization rate among students, meaning that all York students have at least one Moodle course per year in their schedule,” said Donald Ipperciel, York University’s chief information officer. “That was a milestone! This year, we have further confirmation of the high adoption level of technology-enhanced learning on campus.”

As a result of the high adoption of Moodle, UIT will continue to update and monitor both the performance and resiliency of systems to keep pace with the rising permeation of technology on campus.

While the smooth September start was a great accomplishment for all involved, UIT does not consider its work done with these enhancements. During this academic year, UIT will be testing and implementing new technology to ensure systems remain operational even in the event of a component failure. The goal is to reach a state where component failures go unnoticed by users. Building this sort of seamless redundancy will ensure a far greater student and faculty experience, which is UIT’s ultimate goal.