Hosting Moodle in Azure – TAFE South Australia moves online

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I’ve written before about the work that our technical teams have done to make it simpler to run Moodle on Azure, and the way that you can integrate Office 365 with Moodle to make life easier for teaching staff and students (as well as easing the manage of a potentially-complex IT system).

imageThis week, TAFE South Australia have announced they have moved their Moodle LMS to Microsoft Azure in the cloud, in order to improve the level of service delivered to their students. They moved from their existing internal Moodle system to the cloud in order to cope with the increased demand for their services – in the last year the student use of their Learning Management System has increased by over 50% (I think that’s a problem that many others would be jealous to have!).

iTWire and ARN both covered the story, and here’s some of the quotes from the iTWire story:

In a bid to ‘boost student learning’, TAFE SA has entered into a ‘groundbreaking partnership’ with Microsoft to ‘shift its entire online learning system into Microsoft’s Azure cloud’

TAFE SA Chief Executive Robin Murt noted the partnership ‘had led to the first case in Australia of an organisation the size of TAFE SA transferring the internationally used e-learning system Moodle – known within TAFE SA as ‘Learn’ – to Microsoft’s Azure cloud.’

Murt said: “Usage of TAFE SA’s online learning platform increased to the point that we needed something different to cater for our students’ needs, now and in the future. We have to be able to provide courses and content, reliably and consistently.

Students can find and store on Moodle learning materials, notes and videos; participate in chat rooms and forums; and complete and submit tests, quizzes and assignments.

TAFE SA Director, ICT Services, Craig Carter said students around the world are telling education providers they want to study when and how they want – and for most education providers, that means offering courses online.

He said student usage of Moodle increased by 57% in the 12 months to September 2015, as measured by the number of pages TAFE SA students accessed. About 38,000 students are using the system in 2015.

Carter said: “The system has to be set up to handle a lot of use at any one time. Our system reached a point where use exceeded the capabilities of the system, which put reliability at risk.

“We had a choice: replace the system with more powerful IT infrastructure, or move it into the cloud, using Microsoft Azure,” Carter added.

The article also highlighted that the whole move took place within six weeks from start to finish – and eliminated outages that were occurring every fortnight with their existing system, affecting 38,000 students each time. As Craig Carter said:

This is a major benefit for us and for our students. As demand continues to increase, having Moodle in the Cloud means it’s much easier to increase capability. It’s more robust, high performing and reliable, leading to fewer performance-related issues.

It also paves the way for TAFE SA to migrate other systems into the cloud

If you’re interested in learning more about running Moodle in the Microsoft Azure cloud, you don’t actually need to wait 6 weeks, because this time last year I wrote a blog post about how to setup a Moodle server in Microsoft Azure in 30 minutes. (I’m nowhere near as technical as my colleagues, and so it would probably take them, and you, less than the 30 minutes it took me!)

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