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July 2012 Learning Systems update

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Edited by Ross Mackenzie, Tuesday, 3 Jul 2012, 11:40

The Open University VLE was updated to Moodle 2.2.3 on 3rd July 2012 In addition to the fixes and tweaks from  Moodle HQ, we’ve also added in a bundle of new changes and development from OU developers (that link will only work for OU staff).

We’re planning to continue with our monthly update schedule in August and September, and to then move back to quarterly updates in the autumn with the follow-up releases being in December 2012 and then in March 2013.

We’re also planning to carry out a maintenance update on our Moodle 1.9 system to bring that up to the latest version (1.9.18).   We had planned to do this in mid-June, but we discovered a slight performance degradation on the server shortly before the update was scheduled to happen and we decided to hold off on the update so that we could investigate.  The performance is now back to normal levels, and we’ll be going ahead with the update in mid-July.  As I said in the previous post, the update doesn’t add any new features , it just allows us to add in security updates.

On the theme of server performance I wanted to take the opportunity to provide an update on our current traffic and performance figures.  At the moment we’re seeing about 4.5 million transactions per week across the two main moodle installations, this is well down on the peak figures that we saw earlier in the year (over 8.5 million transactions per week) but does reflect our normal annual cycle.

Over the last few weeks availability of the VLE has been extremely good, and well over 99.8% of all our transactions have been better than our target thresholds.  The actual target for each transaction varies – but for most of the common end-user transactions we aim to deliver the page back from the server in under 300 milliseconds.

Since my last post, Moodle 2.3 has been released – there’s a long list of interesting new features, some of them having been developed at the OU. If you want to know more there are release notes on the Moodle.org website.

We know that this release has been through some pretty rigorous functional testing within the Moodle Community to ensure that the new features all work.  However before we are able to move to Moodle 2.3 we are going to carry out a programme of load tests to ensure that the system is able to operate configured the way we need it at the OU, and at the load levels we see here.   At this point I  don’t think that we’ll be ready to move to Moodle 2.3 in September, so that move is now likely to be part of our December update.

As part of keeping up to date with the wider elearning community, I'll be spending next week at Blackboard World.  I'll be interested to see how Blackboard Learn has developed over the past year, and also to hearing a bit more about how Blackboard's new open source community is going to work.

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