Scholars Online Moodle Distance Learning Environment
Scholars Online uses an open source course management system called a Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Distance Learning Environment). This teacher-designed package provides an integrated secure environment with most of the functions that we need for a distance-learning community. It includes course organization areas where teachers can list chats links, post and collect assignments, set up quizzes, record grades, link in outside resources, mail notices to course participants, foster communication between students with individual class or even class session forums, or add wikis and glossaries.
Students have individualized home pages in the Moodle, listing their own courses and links to their teachers. The calendar on this page contains all scheduled events for the student's classes, including quizzes and assignment due dates.
Individual course pages contain links to course resources, reminders of upcoming events like quizzes and homework assignments, and often sections with instructions for the current week.
Students, teachers, and parents (who have access to the general Moodle pages and — as we roll out the Mentor option — access to their own students' assignments) can message each other from within the Moodle, participate in open courses available to all members, and share informations, insights, and even jokes in the general forums.
Over 100,000 colleges, universities, and business training centers use the Moodle world-wide. The Moodle system is platform-independent, easily configurable, and its community of users are constantly adding new functionality, so we will be able to meet changing student needs, teacher requests for additional features, and emerging security threats with future updates.
The only software required by student or teacher is a standards-compliant browser. In our experience, the most recent versions of FireFox and Safari work best.
Our SO website, including the SO Chat software with its logs, the SO Moodle, and the underlying databases, are securely hosted on a dedicated Linux server located in the Westin Building in downtown Seattle, currently the communications hub for the entire Pacific Northwest. Because of its importance, the hub has emergency power generators in the event of a city-wide electrical failure. Servers are connected directly by multiple fiber runs to the Seattle Internet Exchange. Our domain server is supported by NuOz/Northwest Nexus, an ISP that has been serving the Puget Sound area since 1987. NuOz supplies 7x24 performance and security monitoring, firewall protection, daily incremental and weekly full backups, and an on-site staff of exceptionally accommodating Information Technology professionals that designed and configured the Scholars Online server to meet our specific needs. Most recently, NuOZ helped us move the entire site to a new server during the 2019 Christmas break with less than two hours interruption in access to the base site and Moodle.