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Elearning World

Moodle hosting with HRDNZ (Moodle Partner)

For anyone considering Moodle hosting and support…

Usually in the middle of the month we post an article relating to a client that is using Moodle hosting and support. This month I thought I would do something a little different.

Over the past few months we’ve had a lot of enquiries about Moodle hosting and support options. To clarify, this www.elearningworld.org site is a project run by HRDNZ, and we are an official Certified Moodle Partner since 2006 (writing that make me feel old!)

You might not have realised the above, because we like to keep ElearningWorld quite separate from our Moodle Partner status. That’s because ElearningWorld is about much more than Moodle. It’s focus is higher and wider, and includes H5P, video-conferencing systems, SCORM, learning design, and anything e-learning related.

As well as the general number of hosting and support enquiries we also had a bump after running the latest New Zealand Moodle Moot at the beginning of October.

So, just as a basic guide, I thought I might post some very generalised comments about hosting Moodle with us.

  • In general, to host a small to medium size Moodle site with us, will cost somewhere between $100 and $300 per month.
  • There are numerous factors involved in pricing which include:
    • Number of users of the site
    • Number of courses on the site
    • Type of content – e.g. static resources or lots of multimedia
    • Traffic – actual use of the site
    • Disk space required (always difficult for client to calculate as it needs space for caches, backups, images, etc.)
  • The above factors helps us understand what type of server your Moodle site requires. This means the number of CPU’s, the amount of RAM, the networks interfaces, disk space and type, etc.
  • This is important, because we don’t want to underestimate the requirement – meaning your Moodle site might be slow, run out of space, and generally under-perform. At the same time, we don’t want to over-estimate the provision – otherwise you end up paying for a server capability you don’t really need.
  • Each year we re-evaluate the server specifications based on the usage of your site.

It’s important to also understand what a typical Moodle hosting and support agreement covers:

  • Server setup, including SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate for https secure encrypted operation.
  • Moodle installation – which is highly-optimised (given our years of experience doing this!).
  • Email services.
  • Virus checking service.
  • All server updates.
  • All Moodle security updates.
  • Daily course backups.
  • Monthly snapshots (complete server images).
  • One free Moodle major version upgrade per year – which is scheduled in consultation with the client, to mean virtually zero impact on learners.
  • Advanced server monitoring – our technical team know within two minutes if there is ever a problem with your site … we know before you do 😉
  • Email and Skype support – with all client contact answered within 24 hours – guaranteed ! We pride ourselves on our customer service, and have migrated numerous clients fro other hosting setups and providers because they just don’t “get” how important this is.

The concepts we work to are:

  • Your site should perform perfectly and be available 99.99999% of the time.
  • You should never have to worry about the Moodle server – we do that for you(!) – because you should be able to concentrate on your core area of providing training and supporting learners.

Of course there are ‘add-on’ services. These are add-ons because not every clients wants these, so it would be unfair to bundle these into the pricing. It’s better to let organisations self-select the additional support they would like.

  • Training – this can be onsite – or often through our range of MoodleBites courses – which are available for teachers, designers, administrators, and even developers. MoodleBites is the leading online Moodle training site in the world, with the greatest range of well-established courses anywhere.
  • Plugins – these can extend Moodle in many different ways, and every organisation and site is different. Understanding which plugins to use, ensuring they are secure, reliable, future-proof, and not going to adversely affect your Moodle site is vital. HRDNZ are experts in evaluating and installing Moodle plugins, and we even have a public test site at https://plugins.moodlebites.com
  • Themes – affect the way Moodle looks. At HRDNZ we are very fortunate to have Gareth Barnard working with us, and he is recognised as one of the best and most experienced Moodle Theme developers anywhere. Gareth has maintained the Moodle Essential Theme (the most downloaded Theme ever!) and has updated this to the Foundation Theme, and also maintains a number of other key Moodle plugins. He also facilitates our online Moodle Theme Design courses.
  • Content – sometimes clients have paper-based content they would like transforming into effective e-learning content quickly. This is where our learning design team led by Tabitha Parker come in – experts is quickly building Moodle and for example H5P content to make your e-learning word-class.
  • Integrations – are when you want to “link” Moodle to other systems. That might be Google Docs, Microsoft Active Directory for authentication, Dropbox, or any other number of systems. This is often technically challenging work, requiring our specialist knowledge. Again, not all clients require this advanced integration type work.
  • Development – is where you might need some custom code. This is not needed by most clients. Again we are fortunate to have Richard Jones as our developer, and he has contributed a number of Moodle plugins, and runs the online Moodle Developer courses.

So … what should you do if you would like to consider hosting your Moodle site with HRDNZ? Well, the simple answer is to “get in touch” – usually email is best – stuart[AT]hrdnz.com. Based on over a decade of experience, we know that every client is different, and providing a template ‘off the shelf’ package is a lazy an ineffective approach. We work with every client as an individual organisation, to ensure you get the best Moodle site you could wish for, and the most appropriate and useful support options that work for you 🙂

Stuart Mealor
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Stuart Mealor

Stuart is interested in all things e-learning, with specific interests in Moodle, e-learning strategy, and business development. His experience in education over 30 years, MBA in International Business, and knowledge of e-learning systems implementation, together with graphic design background, give him a unique skill set for e-learning projects.

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