July 03, 2007

Experiments with Moodle

MoodleThe other day I was asked to help install Moodle for a friend. If you've not heard of it, Moodle is an open source PHP application used (as their site describes) to "help educators create effective online communities." It includes blogs, wikis and content management combined to compliment lesson plans with the synergy of online collaboration and social interaction. I won't get into reviewing the application itself but I will say a few things about my experience with the installation process.

For starters Moodle requires a web server, PHP and a relational database. My goal was to set up the application on an existing Windows / IIS / MySQL shared hosting account on Go Daddy.

To prepare for this activity I decided to take Moodle for a spin on my MacBook Pro where I'm running Apache, PHP 5 and MySQL. The installation required two additional items I was not expecting: a cron job and permissions for the application to write to a special "Data" directory. Nonetheless, the automated setup script worked flawlessly and I was up and running within fifteen minutes.

I naively thought that the Windows installation would be similar. However, no matter what I tried I couldn't get the setup script to run properly. Perhaps due to hosting limitations? Maybe I made a mistake somewhere along the line? One way or another, I was quick to switch to a Linux plan where, similar to OS X, set up was quick and painless.

I know others have had success with Moodle on Windows but all the same I'd recommend a Linux server as the most appropriate vehicle for this application.

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