The Moodle Users Association held its Annual General Meeting last week. The first announced date did not meet quorum, turning into a “town hall” opportunity, while the second did not brought new resolutions. Here is a brief summary of both sessions.
Many of the issues discussed revolved around the MUA Project Development Cycle. The process is an opportunity to voice community’s needs and wants into new Moodle features. Once chosen, the project has its funding secure and Moodle HQ develops it in-house. Debates about whether chosen projects reflect the will of the people in a fair way are ongoing. In contrast, the decision to set the Moodle Tracker as the technical berth for the projects seems to be paying off. Many projects who did not get the votes still get the attention of volunteers, or in-house engineers themselves. Examples mentioned include a “Resend confirmation email feature” and smaller ideas coming to Moodle 3.6 and 3.7.
MUA projects aside, Moodle’s development priorities do not seem easy to figure out. News in the commercial LMS market, North America in particular, lead to speculation. Some think Moodle is playing catch-up, with Requests For Proposals reportedly gathering increasing amounts of attention. Institutional requests, to be sure, do not tend to be fruitful grounds for innovation. Many key elements in Moodle’s roadmap do not share public updates. There is also a perceived growing chasm as the HQ staff and leadership do not seem as engaged with MUA as they once were. Of course, there are salient counterexamples for the opposite. Moodle HQ remains committed to give priority to MUA’s ideas. But other issues at HQ give pause. There are several development positions still unfilled. Initiatives including the Moodle Foundation and Moodle Academy show no updates since announced. No Moodle project took place in this year’s Google Summer of Code. All the while MUA continues to strengthen, becoming a more reliable ally, if sought.
The commemorative date underscores a reflection about MUA’s possibilities to offer support to Moodle HQ as deemed fit. Projects have proven their value on technical issues and feature building. But a larger debate is whether MUA is capable to strengthen Moodle as a whole. There can be internal realities whose solution may only come from within.
Given its healthy finances, the Association could adopt a bolder and more generous stance on its budgeting, for example. Nothing beyond supporting feature development is possible without changing the governing rules. The majority of members could approve this if they believe it would bolster its goals. Examples of new or amended rules in the talks include:
- Supporting plugin development. (At present time, projects can only add core features.)
- Project crowdfunding.
- Lower membership tiers.
- Mandatory 2-year obligations.
An idea allowing extra vote purchase for a given cycle received unanimous rejection.
The gathering concluded on a satisfying note, as far as MUA goes. The organization is becoming sharper and more professional. The tenure of Emma Richardson as Chair is praiseworthy. Steve Powell, previous Chair and long-running Committee member, also got “kudos” for his years of service. Richardson and Powell will not continue on leadership roles for the coming season, but remain at the service of the Association and its members.