(Sigh) OK, so I upgraded to Moodle 1.6, then discovered I had to install any extra languages I wanted. The help file says I must first backup my database. I'm perfectly willing to follow instructions... if only I could understand them. This "help" file was not only unhelpful but complete Greek to me, so I went ahead and upgraded without backing up my boring old database, then imported the language I wanted (Japanese).
It took me a while to find the administration page where this is managed, (due to the weird-assed way I installed Moodle).
Anyway, I figured it out and reckoned I was all set for class. To cut a long boring story short, here are the problems I, or rather students, encountered:
1) garbled text. EVERYTHING is garbled. Even the text on the radio buttons!
1 student eventually figured out a workaround by choosing "Japanese EUC" (NOT UTF-8, which is the encoding Moodle uses for Japanese language text. Figure that one out) from the "encode" menu. But you have to select this encoding anew on each new page!! This makes the English-language text appear properly, but won't fix the Japanese text in every case.
Students who logged in using Netscape instead of IE got even more dramatically garbled pages! I didn't bother even trying to figure that out. Just sigh, exit Netscape, fire up IE.
2) I had set up some fora for them to post to, but the majority of students, when they clicked on "add a new discussion topic" all they got was a completely blank white page.
3) Even after figuring out how to un-garble the text enough to be able to read the English-language text I had written, the Japanese-language text I had written showed up as merely a bunch of question marks! Nothing fixed this problem; not changing the encoding, even logging out, and selecting "En" as the language before logging in again (then logging out AGAIN and selecting "Ja" as the language, then logging in AGAIN).
Another disaster. Obviously with Moodle acting up like this, it is out of the question to ask students to do any assignments on it.
Altho my students are not enamored of blogs and blogging, it was a relief to be able to log in and post on blogger without any major hassles.
Moodle is living on borrowed time as far as I am concerned. Perhaps some of today's problems were due to my not properly backing up the database before importing the Japanese UTF8 language facility. But I simply do not have the time or energy to spend on learning how to deal with MySQL or whatever it is. I just want plug and play!! "Here's the Moodle URL. Here's how you login. Here are the assignments you need to go. Go!" End of story. That's how simple I want it!!
I know. It's free. So? I shouldn't complain? I'm more than willing to pay, if I could be sure of getting a hassle-free service.