Let me tell you about the best job ever. I read this article back in 2009 and was immediately struck by the audaciousness of $99 a month access to college courses. While working with AP teachers and other Moodlers across the US I had quickly realized that education could be much more efficient. So I emailed the contact us form on the website and said “I don’t care if I have to sweep or mop, all I know is that I should be working at StraighterLine.”
Almost three years later I am still working at StraighterLine and we’re making major waves and helping students lower the cost of their college tuition overall and as some research has already shown, are also making a major impact on student success. In that short time we’ve delivered somewhere in the realm of 24,000 college credits to over 8,000 students. We’ve gone from 9 college courses to (soon) nearly 60 (with more already under development). Three years later I’m still excited to come to work and am excited that our team of 5 people (when I joined) is now around 30 with a great network of professors, subject matter experts, videographers, tutors and graders. In the history of the world I do not believe that there’s another organization that’s helped students earn as many credits with so few staff people.
Over the past few months Moodlenews was put on hold (temporarily) while I put all my efforts into our new platform. I’m happy to say that it launched today and I’m eager to show it off (especially here since it’s a Moodle site!).
We started our transition from Moodle officially in November and successfully moved over 40 courses (complete with examinations and content) from Blackboard Learn to Moodlerooms Joule2 with just two staff members. This was no small feat and was especially helped by two things:
- a lot of testing to ensure that we had a solid template for courses that was on par with the Blackboard site (helped by the Moodlerooms configuration team)
- the course conversion expertise of http://www.move2moo.com/
While we were aiming only for parity between the systems we did inherit some really great usability features and course improvements during the move which are a byproduct of both Moodle’s flexibility and a few custom development projects. Here are a few highlights:
- LTI: this is seriously my new favorite toy. Learning Tools Interoperability lets us connect to all sorts of great 3rd party tools without having to install additional plugins or blocks. If you’re planning on adding any functionality to your site or exploring any integration look at LTI first.
- New Plagiarism detection: with a solid integration we’re able to provide 100% coverage of plagiarism without any hassles.
- Great look and feel: we have Moodleroom’s Folder Format at our disposal, in my opinion this is a nicer layout than the standard Blackboard content folders.
- Operational tools: I’m all about efficiency, which is why our first custom development project was to help provide fast and efficient grading for student submitted essays. Grading an essay is as simple as one click.
- Completion status: students also now get a quick reference for their overall progress in a course. Completion status is a great tool (if implemented correctly) which will let us do all sorts of great things to help students achieve. While we are using only the core functionality at the moment we’ll be making some major enhancements to our UI with the completion data that is now being collected.
We’ll be letting current students finish their courses on Blackboard over the next 2 months, but from today forward we have all new students starting in Moodle. I’m sure we’ll have some hiccups along the way but students are in for a treat overall. You can check out a demo of the end result by visiting http://demo.straighterline.com/.