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conversion of these forums to cloud-based solution with active management: yes? no?

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stapel

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I've e-mailed Ted, the owner of FreeMathHelp, about these forums. In particular, I expressed to him the feeling amongst some of us moderators that the forums seem to have been set adrift.

In response, Ted said that other concerns (his day job, his kids, etc) take up enough time and energy that he doesn't see himself returning to active management of these forums any time soon. But he did say that, if we thought it might help, he could move the forums from the current self-hosted (but dated) forum software to a "cloud-based solution" which would be actively managed.

Does this sound like something that could represent a positive change?

Thank you!
 

MarkFL

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Which forum software is he considering? Even with a cloud-based solution (which in my experience is not as amenable to customization), there would still need to be at least one active administrator. A forum needs to have an active admin.

In my opinion, he should promote one of the moderators to admin, with access to the server (cPanel/FTP), so that at the very least the forum software could be upgraded to vB 4.2.5, upgrade to PHP 7.1.x, and be able to install products and styles to give the site a fresh look/feel. This would potentially cost nothing as long as he has a current vB license that allows him to download the vB update. vB 5.5.0 was recently released, and I understand it's not as bad as it used to be. I have it on my local server, but I haven't played with it much as I'm focusing on XenForo and IPS development.

If he wants to go all out, then I would suggest a migration to XenForo 2.1, which offers a true responsive experience for mobile users. This would of course require importing the existing vB database (no small feat) and purchasing the XF license. Most vB 4.x admins I know at TAZ (theadminzone) who are migrating to more modern platforms are choosing XF.
 

MarkFL

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I said a forum needs to have an active admin. I help admin a math help site with a team of active admins, and we don't get anywhere near the traffic this site gets. So, maybe I was a little off on that. LOL!

I also actively admin a math help site running XenForo, and it gets almost no traffic after a year of existence. So, math students aren't being wowed by a site full of features, nor are they being wowed by a truly responsive mobile experience. It's all about which sites they find on the first page of a search engine.
 

pka

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I said a forum needs to have an active admin. I help admin a math help site with a team of active admins, and we don't get anywhere near the traffic this site gets. So, maybe I was a little off on that. LOL!
I also actively admin a math help site running XenForo, and it gets almost no traffic after a year of existence. So, math students aren't being wowed by a site full of features, nor are they being wowed by a truly responsive mobile experience. It's all about which sites they find on the first page of a search engine.
I was one of the first helpers at the forerunner of this site. I came back only last fall. But my experience with "cloud-based solutions" require a lot more work.
But the point I want to make is that it seems to me sites such as this one are seeing a decrease is traffic and a real decrease in the variety as well as the quality of posts. It may be just a natural course of things. I started to notice a change in attitude reflected in the quality posts over the last eighteen months.
 

stapel

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I don't know which, if any, particular cloud-based "solution" Ted may have in mind. I get the impression that he's still at the "pondering" stage; he hasn't gotten as far as "planning".

Because the rest of FreeMathHelp resides on the same server, I don't know if he'd be comfortable giving out privileges sufficient to allow for PHP upgrades, etc.

I agree, however, that these forums need an active admin, as there are some things which can be done only by an admin. I'll drop him a line, and report back....
 

tkhunny

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I was one of the first helpers at the forerunner of this site. I came back only last fall. But my experience with "cloud-based solutions" require a lot more work.
But the point I want to make is that it seems to me sites such as this one are seeing a decrease is traffic and a real decrease in the variety as well as the quality of posts. It may be just a natural course of things. I started to notice a change in attitude reflected in the quality posts over the last eighteen months.
Is online education actually improving?
 

pka

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Is online education actually improving?
Absolutely not. That is the reason I finally said "no more" to teaching.
Without a face-to-face feed back loop, I do not see how one teaches mathematics at any advanced level.
But then I am a product of the Moore method and still believe in it.
 

Denis

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I started to notice a change in attitude reflected in the quality posts over the last eighteen months.
That was approximately when Jomo joined, right? :p
 

tkhunny

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Absolutely not. That is the reason I finally said "no more" to teaching.
Without a face-to-face feed back loop, I do not see how one teaches mathematics at any advanced level.
But then I am a product of the Moore method and still believe in it.
Ah. I was considering abandoning my usual disparaging attitude, pending your reply. Status quo, then.
 

Otis

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pka

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Is online education actually improving?
Maybe, for administrators …
Otis, that is exactly right. It is a most unfortunate truth that most top administrators care more about the bottom line that about what students learn (or at least what truly benefits them). Online courses are a great convince to many students but not all. I know of many cases in which remedial mathematical have been really successful. These courses are really about practice of basic notations learned through life experiences. That can even be said of basic calculus courses, but I more doubtful. But to my point. Once I had retired, I did one upper division/graduate course on average each term. But the came the mandate( I mean mandate). In order to reach more students (mainly in-service teachers) such courses will be offered online. Well that was not for me. I only know how to teach mathematics in a question/answer feedback loop.

Now I hope that it is clear that I don't think all online courses are poor. But I do think that there is no way to teach everything online. Think, studio painting.
 

Otis

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… I don't think all online courses are poor …
I've taken close to ten courses online, since 2010 (they were free). Some were quite good.

My experience with online education mostly comes from tutoring experiences with students in those courses. Also, I've worked in classrooms where computers were used (during class and/or for homework). I think software improves faster than administration of technology in education. That is, there are right ways and wrong ways, to implement online education. I've worked only at community colleges, so my viewpoint is skewed, but I sure saw a lot of issues. Administrations seemed cloaked, as if by firewall -- I never really knew whether input reached them. :cool:
 
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tkhunny

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I guess it appears that this format, cloud-based or however it exists, certainly still has purpose. I'm in business, not academia, so I tend to lose track of how things are in the real world. Thanks for the update.
 

Ted

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Hi guys!

Vbulletin is a pain in the butt to manage and update. Its seriously out of date and Vbulletin 5 is a mess. I'd be willing to update to either Xenforo or Invision Forum (I guess it's the successor to IPB). Strong opinions either way? Invision can be hosted externally where it would be a subdomain to my site. Or I can install it locally where it would seamlessly replace VB.

Third party admin access to the server is out of the question but admin roles on the forums are reasonable. It'd have to someone trustworthy and active, certainly. I would even consider a very small stipend for your time. Any volunteers or nominations? I fully admit I'm not around enough to handle routine administration but having an administrator who could at least flag me down for important crises could work.
 

MarkFL

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Hi guys!

Vbulletin is a pain in the butt to manage and update. Its seriously out of date and Vbulletin 5 is a mess. I'd be willing to update to either Xenforo or Invision Forum (I guess it's the successor to IPB). Strong opinions either way? Invision can be hosted externally where it would be a subdomain to my site. Or I can install it locally where it would seamlessly replace VB.

Third party admin access to the server is out of the question but admin roles on the forums are reasonable. It'd have to someone trustworthy and active, certainly. I would even consider a very small stipend for your time. Any volunteers or nominations? I fully admit I'm not around enough to handle routine administration but having an administrator who could at least flag me down for important crises could work.
I have experience administrating both XF and IPS, and while I would be happy to help, I would rather give one of your mods a chance to step up first. If one does, they can always contact me if they have questions, etc.
 

Jomo

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That was approximately when Jomo joined, right? :p
I joined over fours years ago. Dennis if you want me to leave then just ask! I'm getting tired of you.
 

JeffM

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Hi guys!

Vbulletin is a pain in the butt to manage and update. Its seriously out of date and Vbulletin 5 is a mess. I'd be willing to update to either Xenforo or Invision Forum (I guess it's the successor to IPB). Strong opinions either way? Invision can be hosted externally where it would be a subdomain to my site. Or I can install it locally where it would seamlessly replace VB.

Third party admin access to the server is out of the question but admin roles on the forums are reasonable. It'd have to someone trustworthy and active, certainly. I would even consider a very small stipend for your time. Any volunteers or nominations? I fully admit I'm not around enough to handle routine administration but having an administrator who could at least flag me down for important crises could work.
I might have the time to do a limited amount of admin work.
 

Otis

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I nominate MarkFL. He has forum administrative/coding experience, using these new platforms. I've seen Mark's work; he's straightforward, a people person. Mark stays current, using community- and research-based solutions to technical issues. I believe that MarkFL would be a reliable asset to the freemathhelp forum.
 
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Ted

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I got a Xenforo2 license and I'm installing it now. I will set it up and check it out before I share the URL for others to look at, in a non-public fashion. Once it's all setup and folks are satisfied I'll do a full import from here, and then we'll try to figure out a sustainable management structure.

Edit -- oops... sorry about that, folks. Broke PHP for a couple minutes.
 

MarkFL

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XF 2.1...nice! That would be my choice too. I've coded an addon to add support for \(\displaystyle \LaTeX\) if you're interested. I'll attach it here...
 

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