Adapting to a new model

Some changes to VLE hosting arrangements may be relatively invisible to end users e.g. moving from an in-house to a hosted Moodle installation. Other types of change, such as moving from desktop software to SaaS will impact both IT services and end users.

Historically system upgrades were infrequent (with the exception of bug fixes) and the institutional IT team was in control of planning the process, scheduling downtime and preparing users for the changes. The software as a service (SaaS) approach puts an end to all that as small enhancements are generally frequent and rolled out to all users with only major updates requiring prior acceptance.

The upside to SaaS is the quick bug fixes and lack of downtime. However the different approach takes some getting used to and you need to be careful with your own customisations e.g. not changing CSS.

Correy Murphy, Blended Learning Co-ordinator,
Glasgow School of Art

At London Business School moving from an in-house bespoke system to a SaaS vendor was a major change and getting staff used to the new model presented the biggest challenge. People were used to dealing with an internal IT team not a supplier. They were used to stating exactly what they wanted with an expectation that it would be delivered eventually even though the IT team never actually got to the end of their development backlog.

In the past people were promised they would get exactly what they wanted but they never got it - now they get improvements all the time but not exactly what they want!

Mark Pountney, Head of Business Technology and Innovation,
London Business School

There is considerable variation, reflecting our diverse institutional cultures, regarding attitudes to the different types of VLE and hosting models. In some cases IT departments view external hosting as a threat whilst others welcome it with open arms. Similarly there are differences between those who like the control of operating an open source VLE and those who prefer development responsibility to rest with a supplier.

Some IT departments can rebel against managed hosting and SaaS alternatives because it's a threat to their working environment.

Anonymous VLE review project manager

The decision [to move to an open source VLE] was not unanimously agreed at first. The dissent came mainly from Information Services who would have preferred a commercial product with research and development behind it rather than having the development onus on them but they have now become actively involved with the Moodle community.

Sally Jorjani, Head of Customer Service & Business Change,
Edinburgh Napier University