Yesterday there was a brief conversation about a #Moodlewish in terms of not having to toggle editing on or off.  The conversation was suggesting that there might be a better way to structure the Moodle editing toggle in order to trim the number of page views/re-loads.  Zaid Ali Alsagoff (@zaidlearn) made up a quick [4 min] video that shows how Google Forms (a product of Google Docs) handles editing without page re-loads vs the current Moodle editing process.

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It’s an apt analogy that shows how some Ajax (a programming language) might improve the efficiency of editing within Moodle.

Click here to go straight to the video:

What do you think; is this an improvement?

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  1. Thanks for the presentation, it is a great overview of the current situation in both Moodle and elsewhere.

    However, it seems that two different questions are being confused in the discussions: whether or not there should be an edit mode (which the google forms you present in the video essentially is in, as well), and if that mode should be more fluent in using recent web technologies.

    As also MoodleDan already mentioned, I the latter question was already discussed last summer at . I am thinking about another related solution as well, but it will take a couple of weeks before I will be ready to release that into the public.

  2. Dear Olli Savolainen,

    Thanks for your feedback and update. Though, not really sure if the two questions are being confused, but they are probably being infused as they are related (domino effect).

    As for the editing mode, we could go back to Facebook and see that boxes can be updated without needing to reload the web-page, or click on editing mode.

    But what I like about the Google Docs form page is the user experience of editing (just mouse-over and the editing features appear) and moving stuff around on the page, which not only serves the user well, but probably the server and network, too (please correct me if I am wrong).

    Also, I would like to add that ‘Teacher Poodle’ should be able to Add/Delete topics on the course page without needing to go to ‘Settings’ function, which is really a long u-turn and unnecessary.

    If Moodle could achieve what has been shown in the video (screencast) and include the Add/Delete topics function directly on the course page.

    WOW! WOW! I’m Loving it! 🙂

    Finally, I really appreciate Moodle’s team efforts in doing the best they can 🙂

    Now, that needs to be applauded 🙂

    Warm Regards,


  3. Hi Zaid

    What may sound very simple needs to be carefully considered in the context of the entire project.

    See this document about AJAX and other “rich interface technologies”

    Apart from the security issues described at length, I would like to point you towards the end of the page where ‘Accessibility’ is discussed.

    Moodle gives a damn about that, in fact we have an entire testing site for accesibility issues in Moodle 2.0 set up right now and I would encourage anyone to promote it so we can make Moodle better for ALL.

    I hope this puts things in perspective a little bit…

    Regards 🙂


  4. Dear Tomaz Lasic,

    Thanks for reminding me how Moodle gives a ‘DAMN’ about that.

    I do understand that we need to consider any changes in context of the whole project, and that we need to take care of the disabled (accessibility) and security. No disagreement whatsoever there.

    I can also sense that some might be thinking, “This guy is so ungrateful and annoying! Moodle is open source and free, who the….”.

    Yes, I am a devil’s advocate, and perhaps being a bit provocative (in a Tom & Jerry way) too. But, having said that, I am simply being honest and sharing some of things that I think Moodle should improve. Of course, some of the things that I am emphasizing is hard to swallow, as Moodle is (could be argued) and has (always) been known for being user-friendly and very easy to learn and implement (with a strong foundation in constructive mambo-jumbo).

    Yes, I also have strong interest (and passion) for Moodle to work really well, as the University I am working in now, is using it a lot for e-learning activities.

    But, as I said earlier (using different words), Moodle needs to wake up to the new world order of innovation, usability, and free learning tools (including hosting).

    Let me share with you all some interesting Moodle observations and experiences.

    Earlier this year, I visited 8 Universities in Saudi Arabia, and many of them had explored Moodle, but over time they had lost interest due to terrible experiences piloting it, especially with managing the server(s), database, and back-end (looking for Moodle services opportunity, then that is a potential goldmine). Interestingly (or sadly), more and more Universities in Saudi Arabia are adopting Blackboard.

    Yes, Moodle is easy to install, but very difficult to manage when the concurrent usage increases (above say 100). Moodle experts and developers would argue against this (No, it is easy!), but that is not the case when you communicate with the grass roots.

    Since, I have struggled dealing with all the back-end issues myself (or my staff, since I am not really the technical guy!), too I can testify that managing Moodle back-end is not as easy and straight-forward as some might say. So, having a reliable wizard to guide on managing Moodle back-end and concurrent users would do miracles on that front.

    However, what has really troubled me the last few years is the lack usability improvements of the core features that say 90% of all users would use or explore in Moodle (editing course page, uploading files, Linking, forum, chat, quizzes, assignments, etc).

    Earlier today, I had a discussion with a faculty representative about how complicated it was developing quizzes in Moodle’s online quiz editor (forever scrolling, clicking and too many boxes!).

    He insisted that I teach them only how to use notepad (Aiken format) to get the job done. But then again, what about images, symbols, feedback and the other stuff you need to include (medical university!). Yeah, create all the questions in notepad, and then upload, and then add images and symbols were necessary. But…

    I tried once an Excel template version, but it was unusable. What if there was a Word quiz template, which could extract images and symbols on-the-fly (XML)during upload. Any such feature or option?

    I also get complaints about scrolling and click wars to upload notes, links, create assignments, etc. In a way, the current version we are using (1.9 something), is disabling especially older faculty staff (45+ years) to get on board (easily), because too many steps are needed to getting basic stuff done (e.g. uploading notes).

    All this might sound new and strange to some Moodle fans and developers out there. But if it does, perhaps you should spend some more time exploring and reflecting learning tools beyond the LMSs (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Blogger, Google Docs, etc), and pick up some great ideas.

    Having said that, we don’t expect all our wishes to happen overnight, but we do expect them at least to be considered, or know that Moodle developers are aware of them and working towards finding a solution.

    If Ajax does not work (accessibility and security), I am sure there are other ways to simplify the processes of doing things. The golden rule in usability ‘Less is more’ (just made that golden rule up, but it makes sense).

    We live in a tough and complicated world today. Even for things that are free, people can blast, be demanding, and expect miracles.

    It is not easy, and for that fact I admire all of you.

    Just remember to pinch your egos when criticism hurts (be receptive and welcome them with open arms in creative ways). It is tough, especially for me, as I am always pinching myself.

    Not easy 🙁

    But then again, life without a struggle would be really boring 🙂


  5. Zaid,

    AJAX is not “new and strange” to Moodle developers and users, we all use the same sites you do, every day, and it bothers ALL of us that Moodle sometimes isn’t as easy to use.

    It just takes a while to develop these interfaces in the Moodle context (Moodle is actually much more complex than Google apps, Facebook because it’s a complete downloadable system with many applications and many many answers to many wishes from the past ten years).

    Moodle 2.0 has a lot of rewriting going on under the hood, and that will enable the big interface changes planned in 2.1 (see the Roadmap).


  6. Dear Martin,

    Thanks for replying and for the feedback. Yes, I am looking forward to 2.1 (and 2.0). The roadmap looks good 🙂

    I certainly understand that it will take time to simplify further the interfaces and so on, due to the context and conditions.

    Whatever happens, Moodle has great community and a passionate and caring bunch of developers. And knowing that is comforting 🙂

    Thanks again and warm regards,


  7. I think its also clear to say changes of this kind have a huge impact on users.

    Something that might seem quite sensible to a group of users can appear as alien to another.

  8. I hinted at a solution for course editing above, and only got around to actually publishing that proposal now that Moodle 2.0 is out. 🙂

    So here goes:

    I watched your video again now, and although I wholeheartedly agree that the goal needs to be making Moodle more fluid (while keeping it accessible), I do not completely see your point about edit mode. The likes of facebook are another setting completely. I would very much welcome an UI concept that would apply mode-less editing to an application like Moodle.

    Even the Google Forms example you present actually *is* the edit mode of the application, right? When you publish that form, there is another viewing mode available for users who actually fill the form.

    Granted though, that the editor of the form may not need to see anything but the editing mode by default, since the interaction is so direct that the editing mode does not get in the way – as opposed to Moodle, where it can do that.

  9. Dear Olli Savolainen,

    Thanks for your insights. Looking forward to explore Moodle 2.0. As for editing mode or not, or whether the likes of Facebook are another setting completely, I am not going to waste more brain cells on that (except for a few thoughts next).

    First, students (and teachers) will compare Facebook with Moodle on similar type of functions (e.g. sharing resources), whether you or I like it, so no point discussing this (Well, not in my world!).

    My whole point was to enlightening Moodle developers that Moodle is not as user-friendly and efficient as some learning (or social media) tools out there on critical features (uploading resources, downloading resources, adding links, moving things around, etc).

    In short, the key is to cut down the number of clicks (or time) to do something, and automate things intelligently where possible (such as auto-extracting important metadata from web links: title, description, thumbnail, etc.).

    That was basically the essence of my message, that’s all!

    Finally, I appreciate your points, and have no problem agreeing with (or being receptive to) them. Actually, I am constantly in disagreement with my own thoughts and conclusions, as that challenges me to learn, evolve and improve.

    Thanks again for sharing some Moodle insights, and looking forward to the progress. Actually, I have no choice as our University (IMU) is already Moodleized, and that is still a good thing 🙂



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