Martin Dougiamas kicked off Tuesday of the Moot in Austin with a signature presentation about the changes to Moodle 2.0. Though many have seen his ‘road show’ keynote lately (it was provided in a similar format to the streamed presentation from Goshen last week), I always see something very different (whether a new feature of a new way that Martin presents it excitedly) from the rapidly evolving platform that is Moodle 2.
His opening was preceded by a special treat: a sing-a-long song about Moodle to the tune of “Thank god I’m a country boy”. The song was then immediately followed by Martin’s best southern sounding “howdy y’all”. As usual, a high level overview of the Moodle.org, .com and Partners structure was provided for newbie Moodlers. An interesting fact is that while Moodle’s official programming staff can be counted on two hands, over 250 developers have various permissions to submit and post code to the Moodle core at Moodle.org (a sizable workforce!).
Martin then summarized the benefits (as he sees them) of Moodle 2.0:
- Media and File Management
- Improvements and major rewrites
Among the improvements (here in started the demonstration of a live Moodle 2.0 running locally on Mr. Dougiamas’ Macbook) were aesthetic. Martin even went so far as to call Moodel 1.X “ugly” (many would agree). 2.0, from the visions provided on Martin’s screen and the various 2.0 themes around the web (here and here) certainly prescribe to that notion: Moodle 2.0 is much more aesthetically pleasing.
Martin went on to show the various changes to navigation. what I previously did not realize is that the Navigation block is a personalized utility that allows the deepest opportunity to drill down, even to individual Forum posts from anywhere on the site. It’s like a teleporter for your Moodle account.
My Moodle and Private Files:
Perhaps one of the most exciting feature overhauls is MyMoodle and the addition of the private files block. Private files provide a file structure (similar to that of a course in 1.X) for each individual user. A mini-portfolio if you will. This block can be located into MyMoodle, effectively giving all student not only a convenient “jump off” or starting point on the site, but a digital backpack replacing the need for any thumbdrive or external storage. Truly a utility worth exploring.
Probably the feature that will cause the most waves and controversy is the redesign of the file structure for Moodle courses. The structure has been changed completely, which Martin admits, may force a change in training and methodology of how teachers manipulate courses (but in the end he hopes it will be seen as overall beneficial). Adding files to Moodle can now be done from various file repositories (Google Docs, Flickr, Youtube¹, or a organizations own private digital repository) and was designed to eliminate duplication of files from course to course. In one pilot, by eliminating duplication of files which were used in multiple courses (and allowing those courses all to call the same file) reduced the digital storage footprint of the site by 30-40%.
Messaging as well received an overhaul, a few highlights,
- No more popups
- Provides an “inbox” for students
- All messages go through Admin (I believe this was what Martin said)
- Notifications provided as Ajax popups immediately when logged in (can even set that notification to include new forum posts)
Other various improvements included,
- Ajax popup of Moodle documentation and help (the ever present ? button).
- Conditional activities and course completion.
- The retooled Workshop Module (which is equally functional but now includes a step by step “how to” displayed on each step of setup and implementation.
- New Enrollment plugin system; this last one provides course level enrollment options including unlimited group specific course enrollment keys, Cohorts, and a revamped UI for managing course roles (which is pretty slick).
Before launching into a demo of the Mooch (http://hub.moodle.org), Martin talked briefly about the workload of Moodle developers and how he hoped that once 2.0 was released that they would start managing community produced code more (rather than spending the majority of their time developing the code for the community). This would allow them to focus on creating a more fully featured Moodle.org, including the capacity to rate, vet and manage plugins, blocks, themes and whatnot (and to manage their other long term projects).
An exciting feature in the roadmap (sometime in the future) is the inclusion of Admin ability to search, review and download/install Modules directly to a Moodle installation, which would be similar to the current capabilities of WordPress. This would truly be a game changer for LMSs.
Finally Martin touched on and demonstrated the Moodle.org Course Hub (Mooch) software plugin which will allow 2.0 users to share and adopt or search and locate constructed courses to use in their own classroom or enroll in for PD/learning, respectively. It’s a feature that’s been “in the works” for several long years but will finally come to fruition with the release of 2.0.
In conclusion, Martin gave a keynote that was very much focused on the release of 2.0 and the roadmap thereafter (which presented a vision of a dominant Moodle LMS).
This session was recorded and will be posted as soon as it is available from the conference organizers.
¹This calls to question the practice of districts in the US (and worldwide?) blocking Youtube and other open repositories of information, images and content.