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SPARK to Moodle Conversion Service

On Tuesday, December 31, 2013, limited administrative access to SPARK* will end. If you have course materials on the SPARK servers that you want to keep, you need to get them off before the end of December.

The Office of Information Technologies (OIT) has contracted with a third-party service to transfer course materials and activities from SPARK to Moodle.  Please review the information below to learn about the benefits and limitations of this service. OIT must receive your conversion request no later than Friday, November 29, 2013, as the conversion process can take up to a month.

*SPARK, the local name for the Blackboard Vista learning management system (LMS), was used for on-campus courses at UMass Amherst from January 2006 until January 2013. For the last year, OIT has had a limited administrative license to allow for individual faculty to request backup of course materials from SPARK on a class-by-class basis. Currently, there are course materials from Fall 2010 to Fall 2012 stored in SPARK. To find out if your course materials are still in SPARK, contact the Instructional Media Lab ( | 413-545-2823).

What are the limitations of the conversion service?

Even with this service, conversion from SPARK to Moodle will require some additional editing once a course is in Moodle, ranging from a little to a lot, depending on the course.

What will transfer well from SPARK:

  • Course content organized in a single layer of folders
  • Quizzes

What will require extra work to clean up after the conversion to Moodle:

  • Learning modules
  • Folders within folders
  • HTML pages, especially pages that include table-based formatting

NOT recommended for the conversion service:

  • Courses that were migrated from WebCT to SPARK

How will the conversion work?

If you decide to use the service, you can expect the following:

  1. Request your SPARK to Moodle conversion by completing the SPARK to Moodle Conversion Request Form.
  2. (Optional) Request your Moodle course in SPIRE.
    You can request Moodle courses the current semester, or starting at pre-registration, for the upcoming semester. If you can't yet request a Moodle course, don't worry. You can still have the SPARK course converted. We will hold the course content as a template in Moodle until you next teach the course.
  3. The conversion will be processed:
    We will make a backup of the course you tell us to use, and deliver it to the third-party service. The third-party service will take three weeks to a month to convert the course and provide us with a Moodle course template.
  4. We will notify you when you can begin to work on your Moodle template:
    You will receive an email with instructions on how to move the content from your template into a new Moodle course when you are ready.