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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The rise and rise of mobile learning

I have been collecting together examples the past few weeks of when higher education institutions started rolling out these ‘iPads for every student’ programs. While the world read those attention grabbing headlines, a larger number of institutions have been sliently spending vastly more money, but with much less exposure, on supporting Bring Your Own Device strategies and building out wireless networks across their campuses to support this. These huge investments in mobile learning technologies in higher education – for both free devices and BYOD – appears to have really started gaining momentum from 2008 onwards.

By coincidence I did a Google Scholar search on “mobile learning” last night.  Google Scholar indexes scholarly literature including journal and conference papers, theses and dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts and technical reports. I decided to conduct a year-by-year search from 2000 through to 2012 using the Advanced Search tools, and stuck the data into Excel so that I could chart it. The resulting line chart reveals the rise of mobile learning research from just over a hundred articles published in 2000 to over 6,000 published in 2012. That’s not cumulative, that’s 6,000 in a year! You can clearly see how mobile learning research really takes off in the second half of the decade, coinciding perfectly with the first wave of institutional spending in mobile technology.

4388OS_04_44Image: Google Scholar results for “mobile learning” by year

Now, would anyone like to read 6,000 research papers? That’d be a lifetime’s work for someone…

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Re-entering the world of MOOCs at LAK13

IMG_20130227_205107So, here I am on the Learning Analytics and Knowledge MOOC again, or LAK13 to use its abbreviated name. It is one full year since I aborted LAK12 and 18 months since I aborted the famed Stanford AI MOOC. Determined not be a perennial MOOC dropout I have decided to have another crack of the whip. Not that being a MOOC dropout is necessarily a bad thing, at least not in my book although the MOOC bashers will no doubt beg to differ. People will enter into open courses for many reasons and the success of a MOOC shouldn’t be determined by the number of finishers. I gained a lot from LAK12 in the limited time I was on it and it gave me a great primer on learning analytics which has been really useful in my work over the past year.

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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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Thoughts from #LT13UK

So, the dust has settled from Learning Technologies 2013. What a completely manic two days! I’m not sure how many years I’ve been doing this but it seems like a lot, and I never tire of it. I was looking forward to it for weeks and it didn’t fail to deliver. There were a number of highlights for me.

My presentation

I did a presentation in one of the exhibition theatres on Tuesday: “What does your next LMS look like?” It was the first time I have presented at LT despite many years of attendance and the theatre was absolutely rammed which was great.

LTseminarImage: My “What does your next LMS look like?” session on Tuesday morning

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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”

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How open source development processes impact software quality

This article is part of a series of blog posts reviewing academic studies into open source software quality.

Exploring the Effects of Process Characteristics on Product Quality in Open Source Software Development, Koch and Neumann, 2008

Koch and Neumann from Vienna University published this paper in 2008. It built on prior published research into open source development processes and was a landmark study in terms of scale, extracting metrics from over 2 million lines of code. Prior published research in this area analysed data from code repositories and bug trackers, however Koch and Neumann were concerned that the resulting metrics focused too much on product rather than process. Their study would review both product AND process, with the particular aim of  assessing the impact of software processes on product quality.

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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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