Moodle Transition Project 2013-2014

What is Moodle?

Moodle is an open source Learning Management System (LMS) designed to support a social constructionist learning model. The word "Moodle" is an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.

  • Origins—Moodle was developed by Martin Dougiamas as an open source system, in response to the limitations of commercial learning management systems.
  • Pedagogy—Moodle contains a suite of tools that help us build learning activities and resources into sequenced learning pathways, promoting collaborative and active learning experiences.
  • Usage—Moodle is widely used in all sectors of education, government, public organisations and private enterprise.

You can learn more about the origins and usage of Moodle, and the pedagogy behind it, at

The Learning and Teaching Unit are also facilitating a series of Moodle Training Workshops.

What is the Moodle Transition Project?

The Learning and Teaching Unit (LTU) ran the Moodle Pilot Project during 2010–2012, and UNSW, using a faculty voting process and endorsement by the UNSW  Executive Team, selected Moodle as our new learning management system (LMS).

The Moodle Transition Project will expand the existing use of Moodle from limited pilot courses to a University-wide service that will eventually replace Blackboard Learn.

We plan to achieve the transition to Moodle and the decommissioning of Blackboard Learn by the middle of 2014.

Why Moodle?


We chose Moodle because we received positive feedback and evaluation outcomes relating to its ease of use, flexibility and adaptability to meet the learning and teaching requirements of UNSW staff and students.

A Learning Management System is the most critical student-facing technical system in a modern multi-disciplinary institution such as UNSW. Academic research and our own students tell us that an LMS is highly important to students. Students' pedagogical and accessibility needs have changed a lot in the past 10 years, and it makes sense that UNSW changes with them.

Our first LMS in 2000 was WebCT CE. We made the transition to WebCT Vista during 2005/2006 because WebCT CE was not capable of supporting the rapidly increasing system usage—and was being phased out as a supported product by the vendor.

Our second change, from WebCT Vista to Blackboard Learn in 2009, came about because WebCT was acquired by Blackboard Inc. in 2006 and WebCT was phased out in favour of the Blackboard brand and platform.

This third transition from Blackboard to Moodle is a business and pedagogical imperative. It follows our considering a number of options and undertaking a 3-year pilot program, using Moodle for real course teaching. The extensive pilot has exposed more than 16,000 students, 350 staff and 1,200 courses to the Moodle system, which has received a positive response from both students and staff, for reasons of flexibility, ease of use, delivery of pedagogical change and technical outsourcing:

  • Flexibility: UNSW’s strategic direction for learning and teaching is towards a blended learning model that fulfils the pedagogical and flexible learning needs of all our diverse students. Replacing Blackboard Learn with Moodle will deliver the flexibility required to fulfil the University's range of learning and teaching needs, meet demands for higher service levels, and ensure superior staff and student learning experiences. Moodle's flexibility has been demonstrated in the pilot, and validated by an extensive trial and evaluation process.

    Moodle is a customisable system that allows for the inclusion of plugins that deliver additional pedagogical functionality and multimedia within online courses. Rather than a one size-fits-all LMS product, Moodle can be customised and extended to closely fit UNSW's requirements.
  • Ease of use: The Moodle interface is easier to use, without the steep learning curve of earlier systems and is more efficient at administering course activities and assessment. It also helps teachers improve learning and teaching based on a learner-focused pedagogical model and a variety of system generated analytical information.
  • Delivery of pedagogical change: Moodle supports active learning rather than just passive learning and improves student engagement by allowing student to be co-contributors and knowledge builders, which frees the instructor to facilitate the engagement while providing students with feedback much earlier in the course.
  • Technical outsourcing: As with the Pilot Project, we will outsource UNSW Moodle technical management and functional support to Netspot, a specialist external vendor. Moving the tech support offsite will allow the Learning and Teaching Unit and academic staff to focus on improving teaching and learning outcomes, curriculum design and implementation, and supporting educational design and pedagogical development.

When will this transition affect me?

Key dates for the Transition Project


Faculty planning sessions

March–May 2013

TELT Administrator and eLearning Champions training sessions

To be determined by faculty project teams

Faculty based training sessions For faculties transitioning selected courses for S2 2013, faculty based training will be held in June and July 2013

Courses to be transitioned each semester

Each faculty has determined their preferred schedule and approach to transition. Talk to your ADE or faculty contact for more information.

Development of Faculty or School templates

May–June 2013

Discover Moodle training

June 2013–August 2014

Explore Moodle training

August 2013–December 2014

Enrich Moodle training

August 2013–December 2014

Blackboard Learn retired

July 2014

Blackboard Learn decommissioned

December 2014

What changes will affect me?

With the implementation of Moodle as the LMS at UNSW, Blackboard Learn will be decommissioned in December 2014. This means that all Blackboard courses must be transitioned to Moodle no later than mid-2014. No further teaching will take place on the Blackboard server from that point forward. From Semester 2, 2014 all courses will be taught in Moodle. Archived courses on Blackboard will remain accessible until December 2014 for those who still need to migrate content.

Academic staff will need to review their Blackboard courses, migrate course components if required, and restructure or rebuild them in Moodle. A special transition project training and support team will be available to provide additional assistance as outlined below.

All staff members who work with the LMS are encouraged to take advantage of training opportunities to learn how to migrate and build their courses and use Moodle’s rich set of features and functions to support their learning and teaching objectives.

How is Moodle different from Blackboard?

Moodle has a similar range of functionality to Blackboard’s, and some additional tools. Its key point of difference is that it has been designed to support more active and collaborative, student-centred learning than does Blackboard, and is much easier to learn to use.

Another major difference is that UNSW can customise Moodle to our specific requirements. During the three-year pilot process UNSW made a large number of customisations and added plugins to satisfy our learning and teaching needs. UNSW Moodle will continue to evolve and respond to changing needs.

How will my courses be moved to Moodle?

Depending on the size and complexity of your Blackboard course, it can either be rebuilt manually inside Moodle or moved from Blackboard using the Blackboard-to-Moodle Migration Tool and then restructured within the new Moodle site. The results of an automated whole-course migration will require substantial tidying up, and often it is much more efficient to recreate the course rather than migrate it.

The migration tool can also be used to bring across individual items, such as a quiz or other content.

Who can help me move to Moodle?

Each faculty is making its own arrangements about how and when courses will be moved and who will be managing and assisting the process. A Learning and Teaching Unit (LTU) project team is available to provide training and other support, as agreed within faculty transition plans.

Please see the Moodle Transition Project contacts page.

How can I get started with my move to Moodle?

Right now all staff can:

  1. access Moodle
  2. request creation of a sandpit site
  3. migrate a Blackboard course into a sandpit
  4. start exploring how to use Moodle
  5. begin building a course in a sandpit and move it later into a teaching site

Faculties will communicate to their staff when teaching sites will be created, if templates will be applied to those sites, when faculty-based training will be offered, and who can assist with course migration from Blackboard.

How can I learn about using Moodle?

Self-Directed Learning Materials

LTU has developed an extensive Moodle support site. The site is still evolving and expanding with new resources being added regularly. A constantly growing Frequently Asked Questions page is also available on the site.

A series of self-enrolment Moodle courses and links to other resources are listed on the Further Moodle Learning Resources page.

Faculty Training Workshops

Each Faculty has determined when specific courses will move to Moodle. To help staff transition their courses for a specific semester, Faculty based workshops will be delivered covering the basic skills required. You will receive an invitation to attend your Faculty’s planned sessions.

Doing more with Moodle

Ready for the next level?

In addition to planned Faculty Training Sessions, an ongoing program of Moodle training workshops will be offered from June 2013 onwards covering a broad range of topics within three streams: Discover (basic), Explore (intermediate), Enrich (advanced). Workshops will be advertised on the Moodle Training Workshops page.

Online Short Course and Webinars

A facilitated short course, Discover Moodle, will be offered within Moodle for those who don’t wish to attend workshops but prefer to be supported and guided while learning online. Availability will depend on demand.

Webinars are offered regularly to answer questions, explore and discuss Moodle functionality, and discuss other project matters. Availability of webinars is announced in the LTU bulletins (see below).


From June 2013 you will be able to book into a small group session with LTU project staff to discuss your course design and development questions or any aspect of using Moodle.

Moodle Technical Support

Information about how to obtain technical support is available on the Contacts page.

How do I stay informed about project news?

LTU is mailing out regular bulletins to everyone who has an instructor or TELT Administrator role within Moodle, or who has been identified as an “eLearning Champion”, and also to Associate Deans Education (ADEs) and Faculty General Managers.

LTU is also using the weekly webinars mentioned above to answer project questions for anyone who wishes to participate.

You can view the live or archived webinars by enrolling yourself in the Staff eLearning Forum (a Moodle site). Click the link (you will have to log in to Moodle) and use the enrolment key "Staff_forum" to self-enrol. The webinars are listed under the heading Virtual Meetings using Bb Collaborate.

Faculties will use their own communication channels to advise staff about their specific arrangements for training events, course migration, creation of teaching sites and use of course templates. Contact your ADE for further information.

How will students know when their courses are available in Moodle?

Since each faculty is moving courses in different semesters, it is the responsibility of each course convenor to ensure that their students are aware of which courses are being taught in Blackboard or Moodle during the transition project. Students should be informed at the beginning of each semester where to log in to access each of their courses.

What support will be provided to students?

The LTU has developed support material for students who have questions about using Moodle. The material is available alongside support pages for Blackboard and other TELT systems. A downloadable TELT Services for Students Guide is also available on the site.

Can I see what my students see in Moodle?

During the process of creating your sandpit site you have the option of adding a set of Dummy Student accounts and giving them the student role. These dummy accounts are not available in teaching sites. You can either switch to the student role to check your course, or you can log in as one of your students—or as a dummy student, if you are in a sandpit course and dummy students were added when the course was created. Instructions about doing this are available on the page Create a Sandpit Course in Moodle.

See also on this site