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Course Management Systems (CMS) Analysis


1. History of use of Etudes and Moodle at LAMC
LAMC has been delivering online classes since 2000. No course management system was employed in the early days. The first LAMC CMS was Etudes Classic in 2003. The offering of online/hybrid and web-enhanced classes grew as follows:  (2003 (19), 2004(51), 2005)72), 2006(76).. In 2006, LAMC started using Moodle for free along with Etudes Classic, and Coursecompass (Pearson Publishing, now Ecollege). In 2007, LAMC adopted Etudes NG. The costs of Etudes grew, and since the use of moodle was at first free, and very "cost effective" - the college did a Course Management Review (FN-1), and the DE, EPC, Academic Senate and College Council in December 2009  approved the adoption of Moodle as a single CMS (with the exception of Coursecompass/ECollege for Sociology, Pyschology, and English). The transition from etudes to moodle occurred during the Spring 2010 semester, and as of July1, 2010, the contract with etudes expired, and the college fully converted to using moodle.

Moodle then updated from 1.9 to 2.0 version in Fall 2012. Costs for moodle dramatically increased, and there were many problems in adopting the new version of moodle 2.0 including slow server speeds, unanticipated server interruptions, problems with synchronizing with the LACCD Student Information System (SIS), problems in running multimedia, and a host of other problems.  At the end of Fall 2012,  the DE Committee decided to participate in the Etudes Pilot Project (FN-2) to "test drive" the new developments in the improved Etudes NG CMS, and to then do an analysis of both moodle and etudes to decide if it benefited the college to convert from moodle to etudes starting July 1, 2013.

The Etudes Pilot provides the following components: one semester (free) use of etudes, and (free) training.  Faculty participated in workshops in January, March, and May, and more than 50 faculty have trained in and received etudes certification (FN-3). This list includes most of our faculty teaching online classes and a majority of the members of the DE Committee. Such widespread training in a short time evidences the faculty support and "buy in" to move from moodle to etudes. One reason for the fairly quick acceptance of Etudes NG is the "hands on" training provided by the excellent Etudes support staff who are all faculty who have taught online.


Another reason for converting is found in the "spiraling costs" of moodle. See the below comparison of costs. The District IT support person assigned to assist for moodle has been reassigned to work on the new Student Information System. As a result, each college which uses moodle must separately purchase, as part of the costs of moodle, support from the hosting company (Remote Learner). Etudes Classic and NG has always included support as part of its overall cost. In addition, Etudes NG includes, as part of the price, development programmers who customize the etudes CMS to fit the arising needs of the faculty.



Costs of Etudes

Year Cost $
2006-2007 13,400
2007-2008 13,200
2008-2009 16,000
2009-2010 16,000


Cost of Moodle

Year Cost $
2010-2011 9,000
2011-2012 11,000 
2012-2013 15,000 
estim. 2013-2014 35,352


Cost of Etudes

Year Cost $
estim. 2013-2014 16,750
estim. 2014-2015 28,500 
estim. 2015-2016 28,500 



2. Features and Functionality - Etudes and Moodle 

The following is a functionality report prepared by our IT staff at LAMC (FN-4):

  1. Moodle “default installation” is a loosely bound list of CMS functions that needs on site developers and tech knowledgeable instructors to pull it all together effectively. Moodle, in my opinion doesn’t make the last mile and can lead to poor instructional design.
  2. Etudes is a finished online student learning environment. It has a clean consistent look, common course navigation, and smoother workflows to accommodate best learning practices.

The difference with Moodle is that it is completely open source. Cost wise it allows an organization like Mission College to quickly adopt and use the “default mode” product with little effort and no cost other than hosting.  Etudes is also an open source project. However, colleges must pay an additional fee to the Etudes foundation. The foundation employs an instructional designer and developers to integrate the instructional tools for sharper workflow and a consistent learning environment in response to an active community of California community college instructors.

Course functions and features – Both systems have grade books, tests/quizzes, discussion boards, and assignment upload capability.  

  • ·         Grade book Workflow 
  • ·         Modules functions – Modules like Chat in Moodle have to be installed by the hosting provider to enable it for the instructors to place into their courses. In Etudes these modules are preinstalled in the system and the instructor can enable/disable them in the course menu.
  • ·         Lesson building – Etudes lesson builder is a kind of PowerPoint wizard crafted to make lesson plans. In Moodle the instructor mixes and matches course features by making web links on a web page. The emphasis is on, “how do I link this page together.” In Etudes the instructor is composing lesson plans.
  • ·         Mobile device support – Moodle offers multiple mobile apps for download. The Apple store, for example, has 4 apps 1 of which clearly states it is “unsupported”. Others only work for specific colleges. Each app has a separate support community. The apps are buggy having to accommodate a worldwide installation base. Etudes wrote inTouch for Etudes to work for their system and has one point of contact for support. A feature list and screen shots are included on the last pages.   
  • ·         Faculty support – An online faculty support community is built into Etudes. The support discussions are monitored and common instructor questions are definitively outlined in the posts. When flaws are found they are reported directly to the developers and fixed. There is no centralized support community for Moodle instructors.
  • ·         Student interface -- Etudes places course elements like calendar and the message box are in a standard layout that all course home pages share. The syllabus is listed as a menu item.  Etudes discussion threads are easy for students to scroll through and read. In Moodle it is a chore to click into and out of each post to read them all.  In Etudes students gain confidence in their ability to participate in each online classroom they take. In Moodle each instructor manages home page layout and course elements are often buried in the content.
  • ·         Student online experience - Etudes common placement and fill in the blank approach makes it simple to check for online compliance and reinforces best online practices. Moodle sites can be harder to evaluate and depend more on instructor technical ability and the student’s web proficiency. 

In closing, Moodle expects instructors knowledgeable in technology and instructional design to construct online classrooms. The Moodle classroom functions require students to be more web proficient as well. The Etudes foundation provides a better online learning experience guided by an online community of instructors. New instructors and students will readily see the difference just by logging into Etudes.


Comparison of Etudes to Moodle  (FN-5


What are the advantages to using Etudes vs. Moodle?

From instructors who have shared their experience with Moodle with us:

·    No way to automatically enter a cut-off time for late accepted assignments in Moodle.

·    No way to allow both submitted text and an attached file on assignment submissions in Moodle. Etudes allows unlimited attachments and you can paste text for your teacher.

·    You cannot easily see when new assignments are turned in in Moodle.  You must click on Assignments then click on "view # submitted" and then you can see if any assignments are not graded.  This was comparing it to Etudes Assignment tool which shows you *clearly* if there are any ungraded as soon as you click on Assignments.

·    You cannot see the number of points you assigned to an assignment from the Assignments area in Moodle.  You must go to the gradebook. Too many clicks to find information. Students do not see the total points for that assignment prior to submitting the assignment, unless the instructor includes the point total possible in the assignment instructions.  This allows for errors, since if you have to change the points possible, you must remember to change it in two places. In contract, in Etudes, instructors and students can see the points that an assignment is worth from Assignments.

·    You cannot override points earned on quiz questions within the quiz itself in Moodle.  To override a quiz grade you must override the entire quiz score through the GB.  However that score is not reflected on the quizzes page so this can be confusing since the GB shows one score and the quiz page shows a different score. There is no tracking of your changes. In Etudes, you can override the quiz score in the quiz itself, and the change is reflected instantly (and points adjusted automatically) in the quiz AND the GB. Etudes allows the instructor to adjust grades for one student, if needed.

·    Forums are kind of clunky to work with in Moodle. For an instructor to start a new forum (discussion topic) you have to make numerous selections (minimum of 10 choices must be selected). Etudes makes set up and grading of discussions so easy!

·    Setting up multiple choice with multiple answers is difficult in Moodle, though it does provide more options.  If you want to set it up so that each answer is worth the same number of points plus or minus depending on if they select it correctly, then you must make the calculations as to what that answer is worth yourself.  It is much easier to simply give overall points for the question and let the program calculate the percentage of the total points were earned on that question due to the selected answers (Example: In Etudes if you have a question worth 4 points and there are 4 possible answers and only two are correct, you don't do anything special other than mark which answers are correct.  Then if a student selects every answer the student will get a total of 0 points for that because it calculates +2 + -2=0.  To set up the question this way in Moodle, it is not that intuitive.  To select your correct answers you would set them as 50% and to select the wrong choices you set them as -50%.  I am still not sure if this is correct.

·    Too much flexibility of setting up the course homepage of Moodle, which includes where navigation links will be located.  If there is no standard way to set up the home page, students must learn the setup of each course.  There will be no universal understanding of the students that the calendar is always here, or the messages box is always there.  Etudes allows instructors to remove tools, but if they are enabled they always show up in a consistent location so students can find them if they are enabled. There are no technical support inquiries from students in Etudes, as a result. The system is very intuitive for students, and the consistency across courses helps learners.

·    The way that forums are set up in Moodle makes it difficult to read the various posts, having to click back and forth on the links to read all of them.  Students skip over them and not read them because of this.  It seems to take away from the community building aspect.  I didn't feel as involved, even though I went into the forums daily.  It was that the posts were separate, and not viewable all on the same screen. In contract, in Etudes, you can read all the communication in one page.

·    No bookmark capability for discussions in Moodle. Etudes supports bookmarks.

·    No way to automatically set up a forum to open or close. Etudes offers this not just for forums, but also for topics. It is a great functionality that automates this tedious work.

·    Cannot lock a forum in Moodle. Etudes allows manual or automatic lock (on a date).

·    Adding equations is difficult (but I don't know of any online method yet that is easy).

·    You can't set early to automatically open forums on certain dates or close on certain dates in Moodle.  This must be done manually. Etudes supports open and close dates in forums and topics, and the discussions open, close, and get locked automatically.

Testimonials - Below are testimonials from faculty who have used Moodle and were getting trained in Etudes:

·     “The gradebook of Moodle is totally unusable. My faculty can’t figure it out. The Etudes GB is nice and simple by comparison. Not many bells and whistles, but it does the job, and it’s easy to use!”

·    “Wow! The discussion tool of Etudes is impressive. I am finding that my peers who use Moodle avoid group work and collaboration because it’s not easy to grading. What a shame to not assign graded discussions because of this, when it’s the heart of online classes. I am excited about the grading of discussions functionality of Etudes. So easy!”

·    “I like that Etudes includes the ability to view all the assignments in one area, all the lessons in one area, all the discussions in one area, etc. and not just have one main list of the schedule by week, with everything together. The schedule helps, but it’s nice to see that Etudes offers the Course Map, but also allows students to view all tests, all assignments, all lessons in one spot.”
·    “This may be a minor point, but I do think that impressions count. I think Saturday morning cartoons when I am on Moodle. I don't think it is an appropriate ‘atmosphere’ for teaching college-level reading, writing and critical thinking. I can't imagine getting into the higher level cognitive functioning using it.”

·    “The community of practice (Users Group) that ETUDES offers is a huge asset for online faculty.  Yes, Moodle has its own community, but it is worldwide and I think the efficacy of a community of practice is hampered when it gets too big. Etudes offers intimate support for its college faculty.

·    “ETUDES is being designed specifically for and serves California Community Colleges, which may not have glaringly different requirements from other schools, but some subtle yet important differences.  Add to this the fact that as an ETUDES faculty member, you do actually have input as to how ETUDES features and the tools used in it evolve.”

·    ”I found Moodle has a steeper learning curve (this is subjective of course).  I think it is more difficult to do certain things with Moodle (more clicks and more settings to set).”
·    “I've been taking a four week course on Moodle--not the best in the world. I don't think that it's that hard a program, but so far, there's a lot of things I haven't a clue about. Vivie Sinou and the ETUDES training facilitators were exemplary when it came to course layout, instruction, and support, especially in answering questions, some of which I now realize had obvious answers."

 Below is a matrix of content and comments on the features and functionality of Etudes (FN-6): 

A1 Document type(s) can be posted as content - .pdf, .ppt, .doc, excel, html,  .rtf, .zip X Etudes poses no restrictions in file types. All are allowed.
A2 Internal editor - spell check for text X Yes, all browsers.
A3 Internal editor - equation editor and support for symbols X Support for symbols is offered in ALL editors of Etudes. MathML support is expected across all areas of Etudes by June 2013 for students and faculty. 
A4 Ability for collaboratively created content (between faculty and between students) X Collaborative authoring is supported. Several 'instructor' roles can be in the same site, as well as 'teaching assistant' roles. 
A5 Accept bulk downloads at once X This includes inline submissions as well as attachments. Downloaded content is packaged nicely by last name and userid (even in filenames), with an index page, listing students in alpha order. 
A6 Accept imported content from the previous semester's site X Etudes has a generous data retention policy, offering live access to past sites for up to six semesters, and an additional 2 years in archives that can be restored with a couple of clicks by faculty themselves. 
A7 Accept publisher's course cartridges  
Publisher content can be ported into Etudes if the publisher makes it available in standards' compliant formats (i.e. IMS CP, QTI).
A8 Ability for time-release of content X All areas of Etudes support time-release of content and items. 
A9 Ability for conditional release of content X Conditional release of materials is available through the CourseMap tool of Etudes. CM allows instructors to set "blockers" in the learning path of students. When an item is set as a blocker, students cannot move to the next item until that is completed. Instructors can also set *mastery* level for the blocker items.  
A10 Ability to export content X Etudes offers export of lessons and discussions. 
A11 Ability to print lessons (instructor controlled) X Printer-friendly functionality is available in Modules, controlled by a setting.
A12 Ability to restore courses X Etudes offers distaster recovery.
A13 Ability to archive content X Individual items or in bulk (with two clicks!) Ability to RESTORE, too! 
A14 Ability to delete content X Individual items or in bulk (with two clicks!)
A15 Ability to move/copy content x Individual items or in bulk (with two clicks!)
A16 Support CSS templates and styles X Authors can declare their styles inline in their content.
A17 Internal student-generated content (blogs/wikis/journal/portfolio) X A blog and wiki tool is included in Etudes. The discussion tool works beautifully for journals. There is no portfolio support at this time.
A18 Support for metadata X Metadata is being collected by authors in lessons 
A19 Link checker X Yes. Etudes validates URL's when linking to web pages in the Modules.
A20 Search functionality in the course x Powerful search is available in the Discussions tool.
B Communication/Collaboration Feature COMMENTS
B1 Discussion forum that is searchable X The Discussion tool includes search functionality.
B2 Discussion forum that is sortable by different categories X Instructors can sort forums and categories to a unique order.
B3 Discussion forum that allows flagging (read/unread) X Students and faculty can mark discussions as read or unread.
B4 Discussion forum that allows for private and public groups X Etudes offers superb support for group work and collaboration. Sites have public (available to registered users) forums by default. Instructors can set up private groups via the Manage Groups tool. 
B5 Discussion forum with an internal editor  X An editor is available to students and faculty in discussions. Users can attach documents and embed images and videos.
B6 Discussion forum with the ability to delete posts with faculty permission X Instructors have the power to delete or edit student or other posts.
B7 Effective synchronous communication (chat) X A Chat Tool is available for live interaction, office hours, etc. 
B8 Inter-program messaging with flagging capabilities X The private messaging (mail) of Etudes offers high-priority marking, flagging for follow-up, and marking as unread.
B9 Ability to post announcements at the instructor level X Announcements tool offers auto release of announcements, saving as draft, and high-priority notification via email. It  supports embeding of images and video, and attachments. 
B10 Time release capabilities when posting announcements X Instructors can set topics or forums to be visible at a specific time.
B11 Ability to post announcements to specific groups  X Not only you can post announcements to Groups, but also to sections, when more than one section is merged into one site.
B12 Ability to send announcements by email X You can set an Announcement to high-priority and Etudes will post it in the site, and send a copy of it to students' email. 
B13 Wiki space X Etudes offers Wiki's in sites, upon request. 
B14 Whiteboard N/A Not available. Instructors can use CCCConfer's outstanding whiteboard product (elluminate) for free for all CCC faculty. 
B15 RSS feeds X Instructors to add rss feeds  to sites on the left menu. 
B16 Selective and random group user selection X Instructors can set up multiple groups in Etudes; students can be in more than one group. Instructors can send announcements to specific groups and can assign discussions to  "private" groups in forums. 
B17 Create multiple sets of student groups X Different groups can be set up throughout the term, without affecting earlier groups that were used in discussions. 
B18 Discussion forums locakable by instructor X Instructors can lock topics and forums, automatically or manually.
B19 Discussion threads can be archived X Instructors can archive forums by setting them to "Deny Access".
B20 Messages may be moved between forums by instructor X Instructors can move one or more topics to new forums. 
B21 All can be notified by email when new message is posted in thread by personal selection X Email topic notification is a user preference. You can "watch" a specific topic or get notified when a new topic is posted.
B22 Grading of discussion is linked to the gradebook X Etudes offers powerful grading of discussions; scores are sent automatically to the gradebook (controlled by a setting). 
B23 Grading of discussion allows for direct feedback X Instructors can offer private and public feedback in discussions.
B24 Grading of discussion allows for auto forward to the next student X Grading of discussions allow for easy navigation through the roster, with sorting ability to grade only the students who have posted, and to view ALL OF A STUDENT'S POSTS at once!
B25 Indication of users present in course site and chat X Etudes shows who is present in the classroom; it also shows (with a blue dot by the name) who is in the Chat Room.
B26 Avatar in discussions X Etudes allows students and instructors to personalize their posts and offer a warm community feeling to the course site by uploading images for an avatar in their profiles. Standard file formats are supported: .png, .jpg, and .gif. Etudes auto-adjusts the image for users if it is too large for the page.  
C1 Ability to use and embed different media types (text, audio, video, images) X YES
C2 Support of mobile technologies X Etudes supports iPhone, iPad, and iPod at no extra charge.
C3 Podcasts X YES
C4 Ability to support and embed code from premade interactive simulations, role play applications X YES
D1 Calendar with scheduling of events ability X A Schedule tool is available in every course site, and a global calendar is included in all users' myworkspace (listing all events across their sites). Dates with events are  hyperlinks. 
D2 List of enrollment status of students. X Enrolled and dropped status of students, as per Registrar's data.
D3 Ability for students to create a personal profile X Students can include their email, AIM, IM, Facebook, Twitter, MSN accounts, as well as a personal web page or Blog, signature, and avatars to support social networking. 
D4 Ability for students to track all assignments and assessments X Course Map offers students a view of all of their work in one page, with the ability to see what they've completed (green checks), what's in progress, and what's coming up - including due dates, scores, and what they've submitted and when!
D5 Bookmarking capabilities X The Lesson Builder tool allows students to bookmark their spots. Likewise, students can set bookmarks in discussions. 
D6 Notepad feature X Offered with bookmarking feature in Modules and Discussions
D7 Internal journal or portfolio feature  
Journals and e-portfolios are used effectively in the discussions tool by faculty. Each student gets a private space. 
D8 Site map X CourseMap of Etudes is more than a site map. It includes all the items of the course in the order that the instructor wants them to be completed for better learner guidance (with prerequisites and mastery learning), as well as offers students information on what they have completed, how they've done (links to scores and instructor feedback).   
E1 Ability to track student activities X Activity Meter does wonders for retention and student success. It tracks student activities and monitors site visits and completion of tasks, enabling instructors to evaluate student performance. It includes EARLY ALERT mechanisms, and it is integrated with the Private Messaging tool of Etudes, making it easy for instructors to connect with students who are falling behind, and to praise those who are working hard.
E2 Ability to set and change dates for the entire site in an efficient manner X Etudes offers a 'base date' feature which allows instructors to change all the open and due dates in a course in a couple of clicks. Instructors can also adjust dates quickly in CourseMap, where all the dates for lessons, assessments, and discussions are listed. Each tool displays dates in one page, and can be adjusted without navigating to other pages. 
E3 Ability to publish / publish a site automatically. X Etudes offers a publish / unpublish on a specific date feature that enables instructors to pre-set when they want their course sites to open and when to close, after finals. 
E4 Ability to export reports at different levels X Activity Meter, gradebook, lessons, and discussions offers export. 
E5 Ability to view course site as a student X Etudes includes student view or preview functionality in all areas of the system. Additionally, Etudes is unique in that it offers instructors the option to add a fake student account to preview and experience their Etudes sites as a real student. 
E6 Ability to customize the look of class X Over 40 skins are available for Etudes sites for instructors to choose from, including a custom theme for each institution with their logo.  Additionally, Etudes offers a library of images for home pages that instructors can use freely.
E7 Ability to create/download course backups  
Content is downloadable for local backups and sharing from Modules, Discussions, and the gradebook. Downloading of assessments is a feature that is coming in the future.
E8 Ability to add guest users X Etudes allows instructors to add guests in sites. 
E9 Ability to add TA accounts X Etudes allows instructors to add TA's in sites. 
E10 Early alert system X Please see "E1". EARLY ALERT is part of our Activity Meter.
E11 Site map X Please see "D8" for our Course Map specifications and designs.
F1 Quiz feature that allows for multiple question types X YES
F2 Quiz feature that allows for banks/pools of questions X YES
F3 Quiz feature that allows for randomization of questions X YES
F4 Quiz feature that allows for time limits that can be set for the class and at the individual student level X YES
F5 Quiz feature that allows for automatic grading X YES
F6 Provide and manage feedback at the class and individual level X YES
F7 Manage and track assessments X YES
F8 Time release of assessments X YES
F9 Create anonymous surveys X YES
F10 Question pools can be shared across multiple courses X YES
F11 Ability to import questions from a text file and Word document X YES
F12 Ability to have one question per page or not X YES
F13 No back tracking capability in test X YES
F14 Ability to import questions from Examview, TestGen, Respondus X Etudes supports all 6 Respondus question types, plus 6 survey question types. Also, Etudes offers a powerful feature of "Paste and Import" from Word and text files for offline authoring. It creates pools on the fly, upon pasting the Word or text questions in Etudes. Offline authoring supports 12 question types. It is easy to bring in 100's of questions. 
F15 Multiple attempts allowable a the class and individual levels X YES
F16 Timed release of quiz scores X YES
F17 Password protection for quizzes X YES
F18 Gradebook: weighted averages N/A Coming in the future.  
F19 Gradebook: grade-to-date  feature (percentage) X YES
F20 Gradebook: grades automatically entered into gradebook X YES
F21 Grades can be imported/exported as a text file X YES
F22 Grades can be printed as a grade sheet X YES
F23 Use of section numer in gradebook X Students can be sorted by "Section" in the gradebook. Students are listed by their official name, as per Registrar's Data. Instructors can view the student's id and userid.
F24 Automatic calcualation of grade points X YES
F25 Instructor customizable point calculation X YES
F26 Instructor can choose not to view all grades X YES
F27 Extra credit points can be worked into calculation X YES
F28 Auto determine letter grade based on points X YES
F29 Sort grades by name, score, ascending, descending X This is also available in the grading views of AT&S and Discussions.
F30 Instructor view of basic statistics of gradebook X YES
F31 Student viewo of basic statistics of gradebook X YES
F32 Ability to review/not review answers by students X YES
F33 Easy grading of multiple choice, short answer, essays X The grading functionality of assessments is very powerful, and offers instructors several views - grade by student, grade by question, or give points to all who submitted quickly. Objective tests are graded automatically. 
G Navigation/Appearance FEATURE COMMENTS
G1 Customize interface at course , school and faculty level X Please refer to "E4" for skins and themes. Etudes also offers the ability to enable and disable tools (optionally).
G2 Standard menu items X YES
G3 Breadcrumb trail availability X YES
G4 Search functionality   
Powerful search is available in the Discussions tool.
G5 Site map X Please see "D8" for our Course Map designs and functionality.
H Technical support Provided FEATURE COMMENTS
H1 Support PC/MAC use X Both platforms are supported equally. 
H2 Ability to back-up storage for at least two years X Etudes offers 3 years of access to course sites, as part of our contracts at no additional cost. UNLIMITED storage per site. 
H3 Support bulk archiving (sys admin function) X YES
H4 Online help available to faculty and students X See "G9". Clients can purchase "Student Help" at additional cost. Faculty support is part of our standard services contracts. It is 24/7, including weekends and holidays, at no additional cost. Support is offered to faculty in the Users Group. 
H5 Faculty training X Offered monthly. Training in the Etudes tools and pedagogy is available (Cyber Teachers' Institute Series). 
H6 Instructor manual X Manual is kept up-to-date in the Users Group, a click away from the faculty's course sites (another tab on their menu). 
H7 Student manual X Articles on common 'how-to' items are provided for students in their Myworkspace. Additionally, a tutorial on how to use Etudes from the student perspective is available to all instructors and can be easily imported into  Modules as a quick reference by students. 
H8 Ability to combine multiple sections in 1 site/shell X YES
H9 Managed hosting capability X YES
H10 Regular down time of system & hours X Etudes is down only for 5 minutes daily, at 4:00am for routine server maintainance. Outside of that, Etudes schedules major maintenance work only over the X-mas break. Down-time is minimal (typically 1 day only, if at all). This is coordinated with all clients, well in advance.
H11 Reliability of system X We guarrantee 99.999% uptime and have a superb track record of providing this level of uninterrupted service for a decade!
H12 24 hour support X See H4. Response is within minutes or a couple of hours. 
H13 Support for facutly and studens X YES
H14 Support for all major browsers X YES - Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Google Chrome are supported. Safari also works well with Etudes. 
H15 Ability to interface with Portal systems X Yes via batch processing and web services.
I1 Allows for guest users & selected roles X YES
I2 Allows for community users X YES
I3 Allows for faculty reviewers X YES
I4 Allows for public access X YES
J1 3WC compliance X YES
J2 ADA/508 compliance X YES
J3 Compliance with screen readers and magnifying software X YES
K1 Storage size per upload X 20MB is the upload limit PER FILE. No limit in how many files can be uploaded in discussions, assignments, lessons, etc. 
K2 Shell size capabilities X Etudes poses no limits in storage.
K3 Student storage capabilities X Etudes poses no limits in storage.
K4 # of Students per shell X No limit in number of students per site.
K5 # of Shells that can be combined X No limit in how many sections can be combined in a site.
K6 Total # of megabytes a shell can have X Etudes poses no limit in the storage of a site/shell.


Below are Twenty (20) Reasons for Etudes: (FN-7)

Twenty Reasons why Etudes

1.   Non-profit,501 (c)(3) organizationmissionisthebenefitofitsmembers;  notprofit


2.   Etudes focuses on the needs of California Community Colleges. A decade of proven record. 


3.   99.999% system availability. 


4.   Enterprise quality platform.Etudes offersa super reliable and stable environment. 


5.   Stability of pricing. No more than 3% increases per year. 


6.   Quality faculty support and responsiveness, 24/7. 


7.   Quality student support and responsiveness, 24/7


8.   User communities of best practices for faculty to exchange ideas.


9.   Active user support forums where faculty seek support and input on teaching practices.


10. No technical staff or programmers required by DE programs. Etudes handles all technology.   


11. Roster importation and site installationsincluded in hosting fees. No additional charges. 


12. Superior, polished CMS product (see Matrix of Features herein).


13. Student Centered product, aid sin promoting student success and retention. 


14. Faculty have input in new features and tools.  They drive the evolution of the product.


15. Responsivenes to faculty requests. We release early. Release often. Stay in touch with faculty.


16.  Professional development opportunities for Etudes faculty in tools and pedagogy.


17. Annual "Users"   conference for faculty to share best practices in online learning.


18. FreeTrain the TrainerCertification program for DE Coordinators. 


19. Unlimited storage in course sites. 


20. Generous data retention policy.  31/2 years of course content always available. 



3. Survey - Users (Students and Faculty) will be surveyed regarding their satisfaction with the CMS systems Etudes, Moodle, Ecollege, or “other”  and the survey results will be included and documented herein to support the DE Committee recommendation in this report.

4. Master Plan for Usage - Whichever, course management system LAMC chooses, either to continue with moodle or to transition to etudes, there must be careful future planning with the utilization and usage of the college CMS. All to often, faculty enthusiastically get trained in etudes, and then use the system to just post their syllabus and a few URL/websites. This is not an economic use of our CMS. Faculty who need to post their syllabus and a few links should use the faculty portal. The costs of our CMS increase with the number of faculty and student users. Therefore, it is important to develop a usage policy and plan to maximize the use of the CMS and to control the increasing costs. DE will develop a Master Plan for Usage of its CMS during the Fall 2013 semester, and will have it reviewed and approved through the EPC, Academic Senate and College Council.

Budgetary Line Item for our Campus CMS  – During the ACCJC visit, the accreditation team asked the Technology resource people on Campus who had completed the report on Technology (Hanh Tran, Curtis Stage,  Paul McKenna, and Danny Villanueva) why the 3 year replacement cycle for computers was not included as a “line item” in the yearly fiscal budget. This same inquiry form ACCJC applies equally to all of the required technology expenses, including the yearly funding of the CMS. In fact, our Self-Evaluation report included an Actionable Improvement Plan on the same issue of funding technology.  Our campus VP of Admin Services, Danny Villanueva has agreed that budgeting and funding of our campus CMS should be included as a “line item” and not go through the discretionary Budget Committee process as a “above baseline expense”. A proposed 3 year budget for Etudes was submitted to the office of Administrative Services so they could plan and include funding for our CMS for the upcoming fiscal year(s).

5. Support Issues  - One reason which compels the review of moodle occurred over the last year (2012-2013) with the "roll out" of moodle's new 2.0
program.  Moodle 2.0 substantially increased its features to "stay competitive" with other CMS. In doing so, it required much more attention, support, and implementation, resources, and server capacity.  At first, moodle 2.0 was "buggy" and very slow. Remote Learner (the current hosting company for our moodle 2.0  implementation) changed its servers several time in response to the "slowness" issues. Also, LACCD IT personnel and Remote Learner attempted over two semesters, with many problems, to synchronize the student information system student data base and moodle 2.0. For at least one semester, manual uploads were used to act as a "work around" and DE coordinators were required to do the “manual uploads” on a daily basis while encountering many problems and issues.  Synchronization was accomplished at the last minute by LACCD IT, literally a week before the ACCJC visit to LAMC and Pierce which uses moodle. The current moodle synchronization, still does not remove students who drop the class leaving moodle faculty with the monumental task of removing students in their respective moodle classes. Etudes synchronization avoids this problem with etudes programming staff personally handling uploads every night, which includes uploading all new students, and removing students who have dropped or been excluded by faculty in the LACCD student information system. Another “sticky issue” concerns removing students from the CMS and then re-instating students to the CMS. Although this does not occur regularly, it is an important feature, since reinstated students need to have all of their previously submitted work, re-uploaded to the CMS. Moodle 2.2 no longer supports this feature with a “one click” return of grades and work of the reinstated work. A complex set of programming language is required to reinstate students into the moodle class which is beyond most faculty. Etudes, on the other hand, provides this feature. Such customization is a “hallmark” of etudes programming, and does not leave the faculty in the “lurch” when the CMS upgrades to a newer version. 

Further, the LACCD IT person, responsible for moodle issues has been reassigned to work on the implementation of the District student information system creating a "lack of necessary support", and dramatically increasing the costs of moodle (see above) for Fiscal Years 2013-2014 as each college will be required to pay an additional and costly expense to the hosting company (Remote Learner) for support of moodle on their campus. The above quote for moodle 2.0 for Fiscal 2013-2014 includes a limited amount of support (just 12 hours per month).
7. Transition Issues

A. Backup - The DE Committee determined that two years back up is sufficient. That would be from Spring 2012 to Spring 2013. For the most recent year (Fall 2012-Spring 2013 which is located on the moodle 2.0 server,  our faculty will be responsible to save their course content and materials on their local computers for upload and integration into etudes. This MUST BE DONE no later than June 30, 2013.

For the previous year ( Fall 2011- Spring 2012), faculty need to contact the DE Coordinator before the expiration of the moodle contract on 6/30/13 and request the DE Coordinator to back up course materials from either Fall 2011 or Spring 2012. 

B. Conversion- Etudes has developed a "simple - one click" conversion tool along with video and text instructions (FN-8) for moodle faculty converting their moodle shells to etudes. This will greatly assist with converting and transitioning our moodle faculty over to etudes for Fall 2013. Etudes programming staff took the time, energy and efforts to produce this tool, and only reflects their "level of support" we can anticipate in the future, compared to the lack of support we have faced with converting from moodle 1.9 to moodle 2.0 over the last year.

c. Training - By the end of May, the Etudes Pilot Project will have trained over 60 of our faculty, including all of our faculty teaching online with both moodle and ECollege. The certification process created by Etudes is a model "best practice" any d again is a "deal breaker" since Etudes training staff, and the Director, herself, provided "on campus", "hands on" training for "free" during January, and our faculty fully embraced the pilot project by participating in the training.

d. Approval of our current 38 Online Moodle – The DE Committee decided that transition to Etudes NG for Fall 2013 would require all online faculty to upload their moodle content into an etudes development shell and to have it reviewed and approved by their respective Department Chair and Dean by 6/30/13.  Once the DE Committee reviews, and adopts the recommendation to transition to Etudes, the recommendation will be presented to EPC, Academic Senate and College Council for review and approval by the end of May, with the signing of the etudes contract thereafter. Etudes development shells will be provided to faculty shortly after the end of the Spring 2013 semester (beginning of June), and with the “one click” conversion tool in place, our online faculty will have their shells ready to review by mid-June, giving Department Chairs and Deans sufficient time to review and approve the upload of content. Note that all 38 online classes we reviewed by the DE Committee as part of the Substantive Change Approval in Fall 2011 (FN-9), and was approved by ACCJC in June of 2012. Therefore, there is relative certainty that our online classes in moodle are “robust and rigorous” and deans and chairs need only verify that content has been uploaded into the etudes development shells, and do not have to re-verify the rigour of the content of our online classes.



FN-1 Course Management Review

FN-2 -  Etudes Pilot Project

FN-3  - List of Etudes Certification Graduates

FN-4 -  IT Report – Etudes v. Moodle
FN-5 -  
Advantages of Using Etudes vs. Moodle

FN-6 -  Etudes Matrix of features and functionality

FN-7 -  Twenty (20) Reasons for Etudes  
FN- 8 -
Etudes Conversion tool for moodle shell contents  

FN- 9Substantive Change Proposal (page 36 & 89)

updated: 4/15/13 – Monday  @ 9:45 am - cmsa - 10


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