It seemed a somewhat outlandish idea at the time, but after the warm reception of the news on how Moodle ―especially since the environment of features included in December’s 3.2 release― could be turning into a true, “distributed social learning network”, it looks like the “Moodleverse” is looking at another critical building block.
This post detailing the new features on Messaging and Notifications in Moodle 3.2 sparked some debate on, a) the actual need for a unique social network for learning, b) the ability of Moodle to evolve or reach towards this “blue ocean” space, and c) the actual plans to at least test the waters. As noted in MoodleNews, the higher rate of responsiveness of interactions, the increase in control over notifications and personal data, and the increasing integration with Moodle Mobile, is giving Moodle all the supporting elements for an eventual “Semantic Web” site that promotes creation and curation of content, for personal and organizational learning purposes.
Now, with the visual upgrades to the Moodle Dashboard, a new debate is about to ensue.
The similarities between the Moodle Dashboard and the News Feeds or Walls of many social media sites have been noted before. The development team at Moodle HQ has certainly taken a couple of cues to maintain some of the standards users of social networks have grown accustomed to:
- A clean, easy-to-distinguish pieces of information, that quickly provide context and a call to action. Students see activity of their active courses, with important news and, if they are enabled, boxes to tick off by performing the suggested activity.
- A ready-to-access settings icon, that allows students make layout and customization changes without leaving the Dashboard. Items can be rearranged via drag-and-drop.
- Supplementary activities, either under the main “breaking news” or on the side menus. Likewise, the gear icon allows them to customize from within, or disable them altogether.
Over time, students will end up creating their own personal space (“news feed”). At the same time, their actions can inform admins and data analysts on what makes Moodle more usable for them. Following this line of thought, perhaps the future of Moodle looks like an ecosystem of online courses from any source, that the student “follows” and will appear on his unique, personalized “news feed”.
Tell us your opinion on Moodle as a “distributed social learning network” in the comments below: