Vista to Moodle: Everybody’s Doing It

Blackboard.com has discontinued the Vista product line, and come June 2011, this Learning Management System (LMS) will no longer be available at NC State. All courses being taught using Vista need to be migrated to Moodle, and instructors have two options: Migrate their course content manually with the support of workshops and online job aids, or have DELTA “reVAMP” their courses for them.

DELTA’s Faculty Development and Support Services launched the Vista Assisted Migration Program (reVAMP) in March, providing assistance to instructors who are migrating from Blackboard Vista to Moodle. The program is for instructors who do not want to move their Vista courses to Moodle themselves, or have courses that are too complicated and time-consuming to migrate.

Many Distance Education (DE) and blended courses are already being taught in Moodle, and through extensive research, experience, and successful pilots, DELTA has decided that migrating all Vista courses to Moodle is the best option in preparation for Vista’s discontinuation.

"Exploring Music Theory" course in Vista before reVAMP
"Exploring Music Theory" course in Vista before reVAMP
reVAMPed "Exploring Music Theory" course in Moodle
reVAMPed "Exploring Music Theory" course in Moodle

“One advantage of Moodle is that there are more Web 2.0 tools where students can be involved in the creation of course content,” Associate Director of Faculty Development and Support Services Stacy Gant said. “Some features are different, and that can be a little disorientating at first for Vista users. But over time, people become very happy with all of the advantages of Moodle.”

Moodle allows instructors to post their syllabi, assignments, readings, reference materials, and recorded media. Instructors can also send class announcements and private messages to students, create forums and wikis that allow student collaboration, create automated online assignments and quizzes, distribute course grades, and more.

For instructors teaching courses in Vista that need to move to Moodle, DELTA is migrating courses in three waves based on the extent of Vista usage in the various Colleges across NCSU.

The DELTA Faculty Development group is assisted by a great technical team that work at DELTA’s Help Desk: Scott Miller, Justin Phillips, Cassia Lewis and Josh Stewart, who do much of the brute work in migrating courses.

Operations and Systems Support Specialist Laura Chen in DELTA’s Application Support group assisted with the migration effort by creating software to automatically export courses from Vista. DELTA Business and Technology Application Specialist Drew Davidson also supported the migration effort by building a web application that provides project management tools for staff as well as status updates to instructors:

“We track course statuses, generating e-mails to instructors so that they know if we start migrating their course, they get an e-mail, if the course is ready for their review, they get an e-mail, when the course is complete, they get an e-mail,” Gant said. “So instructors know exactly how far along their course is.”

Instructors report having great experiences going through the reVAMP process and have commented on how easy transferring their courses has been. Business Management Professor Melissa Hart felt daunted when she found out she had to move her course from Vista to Moodle by the fall 2010 semester, until DELTA “reVAMPed” her course for her:

The reVAMP process saved me countless hours of moving and organizing my files,” Hart said. “The process was incredibly seamless and fast.  All of my homework and quizzes moved over exactly as they were in Vista, in their original categories.  My new Moodle site was set up and organized in a similar format to my Vista site. The DELTA staff communicated with me during and after the process to ensure my satisfaction with the final product.  I would definitely recommend the reVAMP process.”

College of Management Professor Dr. Donald Pagach had a similar experience:

“The process was quick and easy and all of my files, from PowerPoint slides to videos, were transferred … DELTA helped me to get my new Moodle website looking efficient and [the] way I wanted. DELTA saved me a lot of time and frustration,” Pagach said.

These courses were just two of over 200 courses that DELTA migrated during the first wave of reVAMP, during which the College of Management and CHASS courses received priority treatment from March to July 2010.

The second wave of reVAMP runs from August to December, with CALS and College of Education courses given priority treatment, and the final wave of reVAMP is from January to May 2011, with open enrollment for instructors in any college, including courses that are not listed by Registration & Records. Finally, in June 2011, the Vista server will be taken off-line.

Although DELTA migrates your course for you, faculty members are encouraged to touch up their courses to their liking after the course is “reVAMPed.” Instructors should also carefully check their quizzes and assignments to make sure the settings are correct and the grading schemes (and question types) transferred appropriately. DELTA staff will provide continued support to faculty as they learn to use their new Moodle sites through consultations as well as workshops.

DELTA’s Faculty Development team offers workshops year-round to assist instructors with Moodle’s features and course management. Professors who have their courses “reVAMPed” should take advantage of these workshops as well as other DELTA support like the Faculty Help Desk (also known as LearnTech.) An instructor’s success teaching a course in Moodle depends not only on successful migration, but also on an instructor’s ability to navigate and utilize the features available in Moodle.

Apply to have your course “reVAMPed,” sign up for one of DELTA’s workshops, or contact LearnTech as soon as possible to ensure   so that you have time to tweak your course and that you are comfortable using Moodle before June.