Open Source Learning, Brighton-based open source developer and elearning consultancy led by Andrew Hancox, develops plugins for the Moodle Learning Management System on behalf of their clients. Loughborough University was kind enough to let Hancox publish their work as a free Moodle plugin, which is in fact a common way to bring new functionality into the open source LMS, which tops the global market with estimates that reach over 40% share.
As it turns out, making money with Moodle has always been an interesting, if frustrating topic for open source developers and learning entrepreneurs, many of which are consummate LMSPulse subscribers. This represents a vast and chronically unattended potential for open source monetization solutions, which to a large degree reflect the challenges in “web monetization,” or exploring innovative ways to make digital work financially sustainable. A finding that did not go unnoticed by Hancox, and neither for Grant for the Web. He has been selected as a grantee by the $100 million USD fund led by Coil, the Mozilla Foundation and Creative Commons, which proclaims to “open, fair, and inclusive standards and innovation in Web Monetization.”
With the grant —which is expected to give him a sum of between $15-50 thousand USD— Hancox aims to “design, develop, publish, support, and promote a suite of plugins to bring Web Monetization to Moodle“:
«The plugins will allow entire sites, courses or individual activities to be monetized. A reference site will be set up to demonstrate the technology, allow selected individuals and organizations to publish content, and provide free courses on installing and configuring the plugins (for site admins) and setting up a digital wallet (for consumers). Once the plugins are delivered there will be a programme of out-reach via Sussex University to not-for-profit organizations who would benefit from building new or more sustainable business models around existing content and knowledge.»
What can we expect from Hancox’s project, “Web Monetization for the Moodle Open-source learning platform”? Their current portfolio gives us an idea.
Comparative Judgement plugin, ‘Hot-or-Not’ style peer assessment grading
The Comparative Judgement plugin offers a dynamic twist on peer assessment right into the standard Moodle Assignment activity, replacing single and likely long reviews of single items by a quick sequence of pairwise comparisons. Each student gets a set of paired assessments, of which they just have to choose the better one according to rubrics defined by the teacher. Teachers will have access to a report on the assignments, which includes the number of times it was rated, its win-lose ratio and a final score. Grades can be quickly exported to the Moodle Gradebook, and manually overwritten.
Hancox is the author of the plugin, but Loughborough’s Ian Jones is credited with the algorithm behind the grading.
The Comparative Judgement plugin is available on GitHub. It requires the local_rhandler plugin, also on GitHub. Submissions made to the Moodle Plugin directory are awaiting approval.
Moodle Workplace-like Certification Tool plugin family
A simple, yet comprehensive tool that covers pretty much all requirements involving certification, re-certification, upgrades and more. It supports manual and bulk processing of creating and issuing certificates. Other features include reminders when certifications are about to expire, and a reporting dashboard for admins to keep track of the certifications, with comprehensive search and filtering tools.
With the Certification plugin, two additional block-type plugins are available: A validation box, where a user can verify a given certificate; or a certificates display for the user.