Moodle, York University’s online learning management system used by faculty and students, is getting a new name. On Sept. 1, Moodle will become eClass, a name that better represents the purpose of York’s learning management system.
“The new name more accurately represents the function,” says York University’s Chief Information Officer Donald Ipperciel, noting that Moodle is the brand name for a tool that can be used for different functions,” while eClass more appropriately speaks to the purpose of the online learning system as it is being used in this case.
The new name will apply to the learning management systems in use at both Keele and Glendon and will go into place on Sept. 1. In fact, Glendon’s original Moodle was called eClass until May 2020, when Glendon moved to York University’s central server, so the “new name” says Ipperciel will be familiar to Glendon faculty and students.
“It is important for the community to know that the actual application is not changing as part of this renaming,” stresses Ipperciel, noting that faculty, staff and students are already familiar with the environment and do not have to transfer lessons, assignments or any information to a “new” system. The enhancements to the learning management system that are being rolled out along with the new name are intuitive, says Ipperciel, and do not require additional or special training, however, a series of eClass workshops are being planned for faculty who want to learn more about new features. Faculty who have questions, comments or suggestions for enhancements are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org, says Ipperciel.
The new eClass will also be a more robust system, says Ipperciel. “We have used state of the art technologies – the same kind used by Netflix and Apple – to increase the performance and resiliency,” he says. eClass now sits on high-performance virtual servers and the servers are clustered to ensure a continuity of service if a server goes down, which will help reduce the likelihood of troubling “Moodle outages.” In addition, all web services and applications contained in eClass will be seamlessly updated and will represent the current “ready” state.
“We’ve added lots of new goodies, new modules and eClass gives us the opportunity to add more features,” adds Ipperciel. “It really represents a new beginning and offers a more integrated approach to online learning. York University is now at the ‘top of the pack’ when it comes to remote and online learning.”
The new eClass features and enhancements include:
- New course formats more in line with modern instructional design. For instance, instructors can select the Menu-Tab course format that uses a grid layout for sections and topics and tabbed content within the section or topics, providing a more intuitive experience for students.
- For science courses, new tools include the Virtual Programming Lab (a feature allowing for live coding exercises in eClass in conjunction with a Jail server), algebra and formula type questions, and a MATLAB grader.
- Improved visuals through a full HTML 5 (H5P) integration package: The availability of a full H5P package allows instructors to create content such as interactive videos, quizzes and presentations. They can also recreate, edit, and reuse from a content bank. H5P is also integrated with the gradebook and supports activity completion. This provides users with better graphics and a better interface.
- More formatting options, such as font colours, preventing auto-link and creating embedded answers (in the new editor).
- More student-centered features, such as the new “Group Choice” feature allows students to select a group they want to join.
- New course administration tools for instructors and Faculties, e.g. a demo student block (logs you in as a student to allow you to see the course and do activities exactly as a student), category management for Faculties, etc.
- New integrations with third-party publishers, e.g. McGraw-Hill and Perusall.
- A new and improved survey tool.
- A new version of the Zoom plugin that considers a greater range of user profiles.
- New question types (e.g. word select, pattern match, and more).
- New Learning Analytics feature, which can be enabled by instructors.
- Improved course navigation, e.g. a new “go to the top” functionality (instead of scrolling back up, a new “up” arrow at the bottom right corner will send user to the top of the page), new activity selector (activities and resources are now separated in tabs, making it easier to locate), new “favorite” activities (instructors can select their favorite activities and resources using a “star” icon for quick access), enhanced filtering (which allows users to search for and filter participants).
Later this year, more new features will be added to eClass including an import tool from the Moodle archives and an enhanced navigation ribbon for an even better user experience.
More information about upgrades, user experience stories and courses will be forthcoming in upcoming issues of YFile.
Faculty who have questions, suggestions or comments are encouraged to send them to email@example.com.