Moodle Past, Present and Future (Martin’s Educause Interview)

2008

Michael Feldstein (http://mfeldstein.com/@mfeldstein67) posted a high quality video interview of Martin Dougiamas filmed at Educause 2010 last week.  The interview itself is about 40 minutes and covers all aspects of Moodle (history, present activities and future goals).  Being immersed daily in Moodle news it was interesting to hear about Moodle from a source with unequaled authority on the subject (after all Moodle is by and large a project in which Martin is the lone authoritative architect and most consistent guide over the years).

WIRIS

For more coverage of the video check out:

Past

Martin’s education as a child in rural Australia was accomplished mostly through correspondence learning (literally materials were flown in) which he acknowledged might have prepared him to embrace the internet and web-based tools ever more closely later in life.

Another is that Moodle’s core functionality is built around several principles (he mentioned that there were five but listed four) which have guided development since the earliest days of Moodle.  The principles were,

  • Students can be teachers and teachers can be students.  Everyone can be a learner.
  • Teach the whole person (which speaks to Martin’s thoughts on constructivism)
  • Learning environments (physical or virtual) should be flexible
  • Learners learn best by doing and creating for an audience

The last principle can clearly be seen in Moodle’s design (the forums, glossary, wiki, etc) which all provide ample opportunities for students to create materials in a safe/secure online environment which can instantly be seen and reviewed by peers.

Present

The present state of Moodle includes a develop and release cycle (Moodle 2.o is weeks away) and this is largely supported by Moodle’s partner network.  Martin created the Moodle Proprietary (Pty) Trust which is represented online by Moodle.com.  The Trust manages the Moodle copyright/service and trade marks; but most importantly it directs Moodle’s growth internationally by approving and regulating use of the Moodle trademarks via an Official Moodle Partner network. If you’re unfamiliar with the Moodle Partners, it’s interesting to note that there are 54 partners worldwide (at the time of the interview) and that they each provide ~10% of revenue to the Moodle Pty Trust.  This is the main (only?) revenue source for “Moodle HQ” which is a staff of 18 programmers and other staff (including a Moodle.org community manager in Helen Foster and educational researcher, Tomaz Lasic).

Presently the majority of the Trust’s work is programming and developing Moodle features and changes for it’s release cycle (but Martin’s goal is to shift it’s roll to more oversight and coordination in the future).

Future

I was most interested in Martin’s views of the future of Moodle releases.

2.0, he mentioned, has been much refactored and simplified in order to create more opportunities (and more succinct code) for developers to customize and tinker with.

Near the end of the interview Martin also speaks his mind about the long term (5-10 years or longer) development cycle of Moodle.  This is the first time I’ve heard him mention “Moodle X”, a code-base created from scratch, governed by his original principles but geared toward more social learning and using modern/contemporary development paradigms.  Two-point-oh is certainly a step in that direction, but an entirely new code-base developed in parallel (rather than continuation) to the Core is an interesting thought.  While alienating, possibly, some of the most devout Moodle developers and users it might also provide an opportunity to re-frame the Learning Management System and pivot Moodle as a company/idea to a more enduring framework and model.

Takeaways

Reflecting back on the interview, it’s interesting how Michael Feldstein directed the interview arc, which unearths Martin’s background, his driving vision for Moodle, it’s decentralized structure and governance and future thoughts.  Each building upon the other gives credence to the possibility of Martin directing a serious pivot in the direction of Moodle development (X) while maintaining the complete foundation (principles) which the current code-based has been built upon.

What do you think?

Watch the full video at Vimeo and kudos to Michael Feldstein for such a high quality interview: http://vimeo.com/15933942

Interview with Martin Dougiamas from Michael Feldstein on Vimeo.