Big news hit the twitterverse and blogosphere yesterday in the announcement of Microsoft’s “Office Add-in for Moodle”. The product is designed to simplify the addition and maintenance of Moodle files based on Microsoft’s popular productivity suite Office by creating a quick bridge between your open files and your Moodle classroom/installation.
From the official site:
Uploading files to Moodle has never been easier. The Office Add-in for Moodle (OAM) is an add-in for Microsoft Office (versions 2003 and 2007) that allows teachers to open and save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents to a Moodle website. Today, teachers who use Office and Moodle have to switch back and forth between their web browser and Office applications. With the OAM, teachers can create, open, edit, and save Moodle documents from within the Office applications. You no longer need to use your web browser when working with Office documents stored in Moodle.
This add-on requires zero modification of your server and is a simple download and extension from MS that is accessible through any of your Office documents. It’s only been tested for Moodle versions 1.8 and 1.9.
Once installed, a simple authentication to the Moodle server, and your username/password are needed to connect your running Office program to your courses.
So what’s it all mean?
The plugin gives teachers and students a quick and easy way to upload, manage and maintain files submitted to or uploaded to a course’s file structure. Additionally, it’s possible to organize the Moodle course file structure more efficiently and effectively with the plugin. What it doesn’t mean is movement towards a goal of offline Moodle availability or improved accessibility. Students will still need to download the PowerPoint, Excel and Word documents uploaded to a classroom.
However, the ability to update and manage a shared directory of required documents will certainly give this Add-on some shelf-life. Below is a picture of a Moodle course’s file structure as displayed through Microsoft Word.