It’s not really doing it myself, in the first place. I paid Bluehost for service, and they offered Moodle 2.0 through their Simple Scripts software. I wanted Moodle 2.2, so I tried to download it and install, but I couldn’t get it to work, so I used the Moodle 2.0.
I ran my summer class in it. 43 students, weekly forum posts, quizzes, Messages – you know the routine.
Then my students and I started getting:
As I was contacting support, the site went down for over an hour. Support told me one of their servers had crashed, and they had to reset the database. This was Sunday before the last week of class. The database errors became more frequent.
Support contact after that was useless. They frequently disconnected in the middle of a chat, and no one could refer back to my previous contact. The CPU throttling was off the chart – I didn’t know why and neither did they. On Tuesday, one support person said they’d narrowed it to a single student in New Mexico. That student submitted their final early and didn’t log in again, but the problem continued. The only other thing running on my entire account were two WordPress blogs, neither of which were active.
We got through the end of the class without the whole site going down or Bluehost shutting it down, although the only support emails I got told me to do things that I (and they) had already done (check database, repair database, optimize database), and update all scripts (done).
I can’t fix this. I would need to know a ton about MySQL, php programming, cron jobs and a bunch of other stuff (my major is in History, people). I’m reliant on my hosting company.
I used to pay for a Moodle host, but their prices went above $500 a year and I couldn’t afford it for over 200 students. We have an account at the college through Moodlerooms, and I’ll use that. But when I was running it, I could customize the code, set the defaults I wanted, and administer the whole thing myself. That’s been great, but I can’t DIY at this level.
So at the same time I’ve been trying to reclaim my work from various sites run by other people (Flickr, Twitter) a la D’Arcy Norman. But of course I put all this in my WordPress blog, which is on a server that’s hosted by Lunarpages. Is that really DIY? I don’t want to run my own server out of my house (and I think my ISP might be unhappy if I did anyway) – I’m happy to celebrate sys admins but I don’t really want to be one.
And by the way, the whole Pedagogy First! blog for the POT certificate class is on the same Bluehost account…
So what happens to those of us in the middle? Who aren’t programmers but like to run and manage our own stuff? To what extent is it better to be at the mercy of the hosting company than at the mercy of Flickr?