Moodle 2.5 preview – bootstrap, badges and more!

Moodle 2.5 will be released in May 2013. Since the 2.x series was introduced we have seen lots of incremental improvements but not much in the way of major new features for end users. Moodle 2.5 changes all that and has a number of major feature changes including a couple of real treats.

Open Badges. First up we have Open Badges. In March 2013 the Open Badges Initiative (OBI) standard was formally launched, and Moodle 2.5 becomes the first LMS to support this standard. Many folks will need a bit of background at this point. Put simply, open badges allow learners to represent, verify and communicate their skills, interests and achievements. They do this in a far more meaningful way than a simple certificate and in a more verifiable way than a statement on a CV. Any learning event could have a badge associated with it and issued by the learning provider, be they a school, college, employer, online training provider or face to face training provider.

Open Badges can be used in a number of ways:

  • to communicate achievements to potential employers
  • to motivate and engage online learners as they progress through courses
  • to ‘level up’ within a course or learning path
  • to gain acknowledgment and build reputation within online communities.

Importantly, a learner can earn badges from multiple learning providers (badge ‘issuers’), pull them into a single collection in an online repository (their ‘badge backpack’), and share their badges out with various audiences (badge ‘displayers’ or ‘consumers’). Badges may contain information including issuer, issue date, criteria, evidence or artifact, endorsements, and expiration.

Hopefully that background has stimulated your online learning taste buds! Moodle 2.5 essentially works as a ‘badge issuer’ whereby badges can be allocated for course completion or for activity completion within courses, such as an end-of-unit assessment. While there have been Badges plugins for Moodle previously, including one that is fully compliant with the Open Badges standard, it is great to have this included in core Moodle. We look forward to lots of interesting implementations of this new feature.

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Most Marvellous Moot

During the two days I spent at MoodleMoot Dublin last week, I had an overwhelming sense of information overload which made it all but impossible to blog during the conference. However it was clear at the time that a number of key themes were emerging from presentations and discussions: responsive design and usability, learning analytics, application performance, and Moodle’s place in the fast changing  world of higher and further education. Now that I’ve had a few days to reflect on things, I have been able to start to make some sense of it all.

Moodle’s place in the changing world of education

This was one of the big questions for the conference and there were three key sessions where this was dealt with: ‘The Future of Online Learning’ panel session on day one, the Martin Dougiamas ‘Future’ keynote on day two and the ‘Education in a Global Context’ panel session also on day two.

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Moodle Mobile Apps

iActiveMoodle has a new official HTML5 app due out in the coming months. it looks like it will do some pretty interesting stuff including:

  • select or capture an image, audio recording or video from your mobile device and upload them into Moodle
  • view their fellow course participants and associated contact information
  • use Moodle messaging if it is enabled
  • access to push notifications

While we wait for that though, here is a roundup of what’s already available in the App Stores.

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2012 – a year of learning technology failures

It’s that time of year when all the movers and shakers attempt to predict what will be big in 2013. Well there are no such predictions here. However, they do say you can predict the future by learning lessons from the past, so I’m going look back over the past year instead and ask: what was crap about 2012? (I should reiterate that these views are, of course, entirely my own…) Continue reading “2012 – a year of learning technology failures”

Understanding Tin Can API

Tin Can has been getting lots of people in a twist lately. Early adopters are tweeting and blogging about it and anyone who’s anyone seems to be dropping it into conversations to prove they’re at the cutting edge of learning technologies. It is certainly doing the rounds as the Next Big Thing. But ask anyone, “What is Tin Can? Explain it to me” and more often than not you’ll just get a shrug of the shoulders and a quizzical look.

This is because Tin Can API is pretty confusing to the newcomer. I can vouch for that because I am a newcomer to it myself. This blog post is my collected notes and thoughts from one day spent learning about Tin Can API. It’s become pretty clear over recent weeks to me that most people understand that Tin Can API is the next version of the SCORM standard, but few people realise that it is still only at the DRAFT stage. There is a high level of vendor ‘early adopter’ activity with technology companies implementing the draft standard but there is also a high level of vendor hype with people like Articulate touting Articulate Online as a “Tin Can API-supported learning management system”. The level of hype makes it sound more real than it is, and the race to innovate seems to have taken the standards definition squad by surprise. While these people are still working on the final revisions to the draft specification, the hype in the vendor market is leading e-learning practitioners to eagerly search out press releases and marketing material that just aren’t ready yet.

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MoodleBrighton September roundup

Sept saw the launch of #MoodleBrighton, a monthly meetup for Moodlers in Brighton & Hove.

At last year’s UK and Ireland MoodleMoot in Dublin I met some of the guys from the Sussex University eLearning Team and we hatched a plan to start up a monthly event in Brighton. It took a while but this was the first such one, and is set for the first Thursday of every month at The Skiff in Gloucester Road, Brighton. The Skiff is a freelancer hub and provides space for regular software group meetups, as this is an open source event they donated the space for free every month, for which we are really grateful. Thanks @theskiff!

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Open Source LMS Landscape in 2012

I’ve been meaning to generate an up-to-date list of open source learning management systems for some time. A recent trawl of Sourceforge, Github, Google Code and Codeplex for the term ‘learning’, as well as the list published at  http://list.ly/list/1Vt-opensource-learning-management-systems-lms-elearning, resulted in nearly 100 viable projects. There may be more, of course. Many thanks to my colleague, Duncan Croucher, for his substantial help in establishing and refining this list over the past week.

The full list is at the foot of this post. We then set about refining this list against a set of criteria as follows:

  • Is code being committed?
  • Are there regular stable releases?
  • Are there support forums?
  • Are there plugins available on the website?
  • Are there commercial support services available?
  • Is there developer documentation on the website?

Applying this set of filters reduces the full list down to a mere 10 LMS projects which can be considered mature, stable and sustainable. This is clearly a much more manageable and feasible list against which more detailed comparisons can be made. Those comparisons will come in a further post over the coming weeks.

Here are the shortlist of 10 and the full list of open source LMS projects. if you spot anything missing or can help improve the refinement criteria, pls let me know.

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Reflections on 12 months at Epic

1 today!Wow. This week marks 12 months back at Epic for me and what a year it has been! A slew of awesome Moodle sites, high growth in our open source services, a fantastic new open source team, getting stuck in at MoodleMoot and iMoot conferences and loads more exciting stuff. It’s been a jam packed year for sure. it was always going to be a bit weird rejoining a company I had been part of for 11 years prior to my three years at a competitor. But that three years doing a high growth startup (launching Kineo’s open source business) was a massive education, albeit one that went off in a direction that wasn’t a comfortable fit for me. Continue reading “Reflections on 12 months at Epic”

iMoot: Building a Mobile Moodle Course

I attended and presented at my first iMoot last week. For the uninitiated, Moodle Moots are regional conferences and the annual iMoot is a 4 day online conference extravaganza with round the clock sessions! I did two sessions on building and deploying mobile learning for Moodle which you can view on Slideshare.

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Moodle Moot UK – Day Three

Keynote panorama by James Clay

Day Three at the Moodle Moot started with a sore head! The previous night saw a drinks reception hosted by Remote Learner (thankyou for the wine!) followed by an excellent Gala dinner with good food, nice wine and great company.  I headed off at 10pm but the tweets and video footage continued into the small hours so this morning started with sore heads all round!

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