Just last year (2017) I was asked to setup and implement an LMS (learning management system) for my district. We chose Moodle due to its cost effectiveness and the fact that it was an open-source platform, which would allow us to integrate with a number of other 3rd party services (such as Panopto and G Suite for Education).

I coordinated efforts with our marketing team to brand the platform, our legal department to establish a privacy policy and user agreement for students, and our IT team to establish security perimeters for the system. I also imported the state standards (for Common Core and CTE), and setup/installed a wide range of compatible plugins and APIs, including a number of language packs for ELL students and "Ally" to facilitate Section 508 compliance for SPED students.

One of the biggest challenges I faced was getting the LMS to bridge with our district's SIS system, SchoolPathways. Unfortunately, the two companies (SchoolPathways and Moodle) have had disagreements in the past, and this has resulted in SchoolPathways refusing to allow for a Moodle API to be integrated in the backend of their system.

Thankfully, I managed to figure out a solution: I programmed a "stand-alone" bridge that connected our Moodle system with SchoolPathways. However, I wasn't able to integrate this bridge into the backend of SchoolPathways (per their requirements), which meant that the bridging report would need to be run manually or else via a macro/automator program once per day, but it worked for our purposes.

In summary, this "quasi-bridge" system accepts or pulls reports from SchoolPathways, converts the information from the reports into a format Moodle accepts, and then feeds this data into Moodle. This system allowed us to overcome three big challenges: (1) It would automatically import and update both student and staff accounts from SchoolPathays into Moodle; (2) It would automatically enroll students into Moodle courses based on the curriculum that was assigned to them in SchoolPathways; and (3) It would "scrub" inactive accounts for both students and staff (i.e., it would automatically deactivate the accounts for student and staff when they left our schools for any reason) as a means of both protecting against "account rot" and also as a security precaution.

Unfortunately, less than 3 weeks before the release of this project, I discovered that our administrators decided to put the project on hold (for a number of internal reasons).

However, not to be deterred, I decided to utilize the work I had done on the sandbox version of the platform for my own purposes, and ultimately came upon the idea to re-invent it as an online professional development portal where I have since been designing online training modules for teachers: www.miss.moe/training.

I decided to utilize this platform to offer free technology training for teachers in subjects like Section 508/WCAG 2.1 compliance, Data Security Basics (FERPA, COPPA, CIPA, etc.), and Copyrights & Intellectual Property for Teachers. Teachers are able to obtain digital badges and/or certificates of completion for meeting the standards outlined in the online training modules. And I have also integrated BigBlueButton to offer free online seminars for a more synchronous training experience, if needed.

Videography and Photography by Rafael Escamilla