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8. 12

Installing Moodle on Bluehost

Written by: gcw - Posted in: Uncategorized - Tags: ,

I mentioned earlier what a difficult time I had installing Moodle on Bluehost, and there were two main reasons:

  1. Bluehost themselves have no documentation on the subject and
  2. I followed this gentleman’s videos

I’m not blaming him by any means, I was able to get moodle working because of him. But he admits he is not a techie person and his method is far more cumbersome than it needs to be. I’m really blaming Bluehost since it starts with their documentation.

Here is the breakdown of the easy way to install Moodle 2.4 on Bluehost hosting services. Go to your cPanel, then scroll down to the Databases and Software Services sections:

If you were to go into Simple Scripts now and try to install Moodle, it would tell you your system doesn’t meet the specs. That’s why first we have to set your hosting to use PHP version 5.3. Click on the PHP Config link under the Frequently Accessed Areas on the left hand side of the screen. Then choose PHP 5.3 and save your changes.

Now if you go back down to Software Services and click on Simple Scripts and from there choose Moodle and you should be able to follow the instructions. This will get Moodle up and running within 10 minutes.


3. 12

Programming lab-practicals

Written by: gcw - Posted in: Uncategorized - Tags:


I have had the pleasure of teaching COSP8 at LBCC this fall, which is a nice change of pace. Teaching at a for-profit school means I don’t have as much oppourtunity to design curriculum as I’d like and with this class I was given free reign. Unfortunately as this was my first time teaching this class, I mostly stuck with the book (a great book, by the way) and didn’t develope my own materials as much I would have liked.

One area I really wish I had spent more time with was the development of good programming projects. I’m not the only one who sees the importance of it, or the difficulty in creating good ones. I have had three issues this semester with my projects:

I’m wary of early projects that make heavy use of libraries.  I find (anecdotally) that when students don’t understand what they’re working with they don’t feel as satisfied with their results, even when those results are impressive.

This is an issue with a Visual Basic class. Any  program requires the entirety of the .NET framework. Even HelloWorld requires labels and forms and buttons (oh my). This leads to a lot of “hand waving,” that is waving your hands and saying “it’s magic!” That makes it much harder for the students to learn.

A second issue is that a good project should build on other projects and work that students have been doing in the course. My projects this quarter have done that to a degree, but in a really haphazard way. Now that I have an idea of where the class ends ends (in terms of knowledge and skills) it seems pretty obvious how I could have done better in designing projects that build.

And my final problem has been the large disparity in ability and preparation of my students, which is a commonality of teaching at a community college. I have some students who have taken years of programming and are just getting a few more credits to transfer to a University and I have some students who have never done anything more technical then send an email. It is not impossible to accommodate students across this continuum, but it does limit my options and forces me to lay objectives out in an ascending scale (with lots of extra credit).

With all that said my real challenge is designing a lab-practical. It has all the challenges of designing a long term project along with

  1. Ensuring that it covers all the course objectives
  2. Can be finished within 2 hours

And all this ignores creating an assignment that makes sense. While that is not a requirement, it is nice if the students can imagine what their code could be used for instead of giving them a series of “Do this, now do that…”

I’ll be spending some time this week trying to work this out….

29. 11

I moodled myself

Written by: gcw - Posted in: Uncategorized - Tags: ,

Well I recently finished creating my own moodle, which was an unnecessarily complex undertaking due to my own ignorance. This semester I used the Long Beach City CS department’s moodle which was kindly set up by Gerry Jenkins, but I’m a programmer. I like to do things my own way, like install pluggins and themes and remove profanity filters. I also really like some of the features that have been put into moodle recently, but I can’t expect them to upgrade due to my preferences. And finally I wanted to have one place/system that I could use across campuses for all my classes instead of being frustrated at the little quirks of each.

I would also like the opportunity to play around with the source code and maybe write a plugin or two. Someday. Not today.

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