The Fifth Edition of the Moodle Moot UK took finally place at the Loughborough University, in the Midlands, from the 7th to the 8th of April 2009. This Moot edition has been drastically affected by the financial hardship that most of the so called “FE and HE” institutions are suffering in the UK; an economic uncertainty that put the conference at the brink of being cancelled. The event was organized by Sean M. Keogh, the man who invented the term “Moodle Moot”, and who started this tradition in July 2004, when the first world Moodle Moot was held in Oxford.
In addition to the expected keynote presentation about Moodle 2.0 by Martin Dougiamas, this year’s edition offered an interesting variety of topics, such as: a case study about Mahara as an eportfolio platform, the Mr.Cute plugging as an institutional repository for Moodle, or the integration of Moodle with other external systems.
My contribution to this- my first- Moodle Moot was the 50 minutes presentation “Keeping Moodle tidy: how to obtain accurate statistics and get rid of obsolete users and courses”. I have to say that I was surprised by the high number of participants, taking into account that my humble presentation was scheduled at the same time that Workshop “Looking for the future: What is coming in Moodle 2.0?” led by the famous MoodeMan.
Unfortunately, one of the most expected presentations for this Moot -the session about Wikis and Webservices in Moodle 2.0 by Ludo, from the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya- had to be cancelled, as the speaker could not attend the event.
I realised too late that I have forgotten my camara when everybody started taking photos of Martin Dougamas and uploading them in Facebook. Shame…
Moodle 2.0: The Never Ending Story
Time has gone by, since I first listened to Martin Dougiamas talking about Moodle 2.0 at the University of Glasgow in October 2009. As he is now able to show more Moodle 2.0 features in action, it is evident that much technical development has been done during this time. Yet there is no release date for the first stable version 2.0, like if the development of these new features would have to continue forever and ever… In his keynote presentation, Dougiamas announced that this long-time-expected stable version would be launched before Christmas 2009. He also invited the community of UK moodlers to take part in the testing of the current alpha version, providing feedback to Moodle.org.
Among the new key features of Moodle 2.0, Dougiamas enumerated:
- The Wiki and Blog 2.0 new pluggings.
- 2. Full repository integration.
- 3. Full portfolio integration.
- 4. Webservices integration.
- 5. File storage management.
- 6. Conditional activities and monitoring of course completion.
- 7. Totally flexible users fields, etc.
Moodle, both the wiki and blog pluggings have been designed to be integrated with Google. Although this statement created a great deal of excitement among the audience, Martin Dougiamas did not go into the point in depth, since it was going to be covered by Ludo’s presentation.
The full repository integration will allow moodlers to pull multimedia contents into Moodle, as well as push contents out, to the web, in different formats. This integration will work for most of the web 2.0 content sites, such as Googledocs, Wikipedia, Flicker, Piccasa, Twitter, etc.
With regard to the Eportfolio integration, it is significant the change in Dougiama’s view: in October 2007, he announced two eportfolio platforms as the most likely candidates to be integrated with Moodle 2.0: MyStuff, mainly developed by the Open University UK, and Mahara, the result of a joint venture between Catalys Ltd and several Universities from New Zeland. Almost two years later, in the Spring 2009, Dougiamas did not mention at all MySutff, while the portfolio platforms considered are now:
By considering these platforms, Moodle org acknowledges that users want to use their own portfolio system, rather than the ones provided by institutions. Moodle 2.0 will facilitate the integration between the learner’s chosen platform and the institution’s VLE.
The webservices’ protocols supported by Moodle 2.0 are:
· REST (Representational state transfer)
The new file management system in Moodle 2.0 makes possible that only one physical copy of the same file is stored in the server, reducing therefore the unnecessarily use of the storage space.
Teachers will be able to customize the course’ menu, so that certain activities will only be displayed provided a given condition is fulfilled (for instance: that the leaner obtains a certain result in a previous activity). Likewise, the learners will be able to track the activities that they have completed.
An example of community hub architecture shown in the presentation.
In his presentation, Martin Dougiamas also emphasised the importance of “Community hubs” as a part of the cultural change that Moodle 2.0 brings. These hubs will allow moodlers to easily share resources among their sites, without having to worry about technicalities. For instance, teachers will be able to “push” their courses to a central repository, just by clicking on the “Community button”, so that other teachers over the world can browse and use them.
In addition to these developments, Moodle 2.0 will have a “cooler” appearance, as all the pages will include menu, administration and navigation blocks, all of them completely customizable by administrators/teachers. An example of this new look is the current front page of Moodle org.
In conclusion, I feel honoured of having had the opportunity of attending the British Moodle Moot both as speaker and moodler. The only thing that I would change is the inevitable and forseable British lunch -a soggy vegetarian sandwich, plus another even more soogy sandwich if your stomach still bears it, plus orange juice from concentrate- , by a real continental French buffet.
The power of Moodle is, all in all, the power of the Open Source Movement.