Blackboard to offer Moodle and Sakai services in the race for student data

Yesterday a slew of major announcements from Blackboard sent shock waves through the open source learning technologies community. The first was that Blackboard is to acquire two major Moodle Partners – Moodlerooms in North America and Netspot in Australia. The second was that Blackboard is hiring Sakai founder Chuck Severance in an effort to extend its service offering to Sakai as well as Moodle. And as if this weren’t enough, Blackboard also announced its decision to continue supporting Angel VLE, a product it acquired some years ago and was set to discontinue. All of this under the umbrella of the Blackboard Education Open Source Services. Open letters and quotes were published by all involved: Blackboard, BB Learn President Ray Henderson, Sakai’s Chuck Severance, Moodlerooms CEO Lou Pugliese and Netspot Director Mark Dreschler.

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Experiments with Moodle multi-tenancy

Multi SitesWe should see native support for multi-tenancy in Moodle 2.3 which is due out in June and I’m keen to see how this will work. UPDATE 19/03: thanks to Gavin Henrick and Tim Hunt who pointed out that this feature was dropped from the Moodle 2.3 roadmap last month. I have removed a few references this release below.

A few months ago I came across this excellent post over on Dan Poltawski’s blog:  Multi-tenant Moodle without the 2.2 feature where he expands on the multi-tenancy Moodle setup they have at LUNS which scales to over 1,000 Moodle sites from a single codebase. I think this method will be hard to beat but we shall see with the release of 2.3.

I’ve been meaning to have a play with Dan’s setup for a while and never got round to it, but one our lovely Systems lads at Epic kindly had a go and we got this working, with some tweaks to the setup which we had to work out for ourselves. So if you’re interested, here’s what we did. Thanks ever so much to the brilliant Steve Avey for getting this working!

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Research into open source software quality

My first decade in software development was in software testing and test management and despite moving away from that discipline it remains a special interest. As an open source practitioner I maintain a keen interest in where the worlds of software quality and open source meet. It goes without saying that quality is managed VERY differently in open source projects than it is in traditional closed-source projects. How differently, and how project attributes positively impact on quality, has been the focus of an increasing amount of academic research, especially now that the open source phenomenon is mainstream.

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Moodle 2.2 preview – the mobile LMS

December sees the release of Moodle 2.2 which is now under code freeze and being put through the rigours of the Moodle QA process to iron out those last niggling issues prior to official launch. The beta is already available on the Moodle Downloads page and the team are encouraging people to download and test it and feed back any issues found.

The beta release is also a good opportunity to have a play around with the new features. These can be broadly split into end-user and developer features. While much of the fanfare has been around end-user features in the various previews that have been blogged to date, there are significant code-level changes taking place under the hood in Moodle 2.2 which will also have far-reaching effects. Of particular note are some major improvements in mobile support; while Moodle 2.1 and its associated iOS App laid down a lot of mobile groundwork, the mobile capabilities of Moodle 2.2 should help make Moodle a real contender in the mobile LMS space.

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Standard Moodle, Distribution or Flavour – which version is for me?

Over the years a number of Moodle versions and distributions have been released. In the past year alone, a major new Moodle 2 upgrade has become available, a new Moodle Distribution has been released and an interesting new plugin called Moodle Flavours was developed which effectively allows you to ‘roll your own’ Moodle distribution. So where do you start if you’re considering a Moodle implementation? If you’re not sure whether to use Standard Moodle, a Moodle Distribution or a Moodle Flavour, then this article is for you!

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