The origin story of Martin Dougiamas, creator and CEO of Moodle, involves vast deserts, the Kalgoorlie School of the Air before the internet, the groundbreaking coming of the internet, and fireplaces.
Red Hat’s opensource.com features an interview with Dougiamas about the origin of Moodle and its place in education today. Coinciding with the upcoming launch of Moodle 3.2, it helps to highlight much of the philosophy underpinning “the de facto standard in open source learning management systems“, and the pursuits we might expect moving forward.
For the development of the seminal prototype and its ongoing experimentation for real educational environments, Dougiamas recounts the many privileges that allowed him to create Moodle, including webmaster resources from Curtin University of Technology.
The decision to make Moodle Open Source in lieu of monetizing was done so in order to gain real users. Dougiamas had been involved with the internet since the late eighties, which at the time it looked like white commands on a dark, bluish background. Familiarity with the Unix shell, which was very popular in academic circles at the time, might have influenced the Open Source licensing of Moodle, as well as the principles of its architecture.
The activities in Moodle are designed a little like Unix programs, in that they do a few things well and you can link them up, like pipes (…)
[O]pen source models seemed very natural (…) to me.
The impact of Moodle on education, 16 years later, is obvious. Administrators can register their Moodle site to share statistics centrally, which today adds up to 80 million users. But Dougiamas “knows anecdotally” that this figure could represent as little as 10% of the actual user base. Regarding developers, Moodle HQ employs 25 coders, testers, designers, and managers. HQ receives contributions from 150 to 300 volunteer programmers for each release.
After discussing the mobile apps, the Moodle.net OER, the Moodle Partners and MoodleCloud as “the best way to get started“ on Moodle, Dougiamas ends with his views on the main challenges the LMS faces. Usability is at the top of his mind. Engagement follows, but Dougiamas is also interested in the “political, influencer or decision-making level with education systems“.
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