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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!
Before the main conference today there was a panel discussion about Moodle 2 upgrades, I only caught the end of this but there was an interesting discussion going on regarding M2 site and server performance. The main message from the panel was that early versions of M2.0 had a performance hit as the developer focus had been on features, however on M2.2 and moving towards 2.3, the panel had no remaining concerns as the performance issues have been ironed during the intervening period.
Helen Foster keynote
Helen is Moodle Community Manager and she delivered the Day Three Keynote. Her theme was the range of Moodle.org sites and their purpose, and how you can get involved in these. Always a brave thing to rely on the conference wireless connection for a presentation but despite a patchy connection she got through everything.
- docs.moodle.org, more commonly known as Moodle Docs, we all use these regularly but Helen had a few useful tips to impart. Once logged in you can ‘Watch’ key pages, such as the Moodle Roadmap page, so you get an email when the page is updated. And she asked everyone to get stuck in and edit pages too. If you see a typo, or have something to add, then Moodle.org needs you!
- demo.moodle.net is always available for viewing the latest stable Moodle version. It is wiped every hour to keep it clean but is a good place to try out new features.
- school.demo.moodle.net is the latest stable version as above, but populated with loads of data from a sample school, so is great for testing out features and roles in a simulated real-life Moodle.
- qa.moodle.net is the test site for the latest development release. If you want to contribute to the testing effort and become a bug hunter, then this site is for you.
- hub.moodle.org (called MOOCH) features free and open courses that people have shared within the community. Use the Community Finder block on your site or search directly via the MOOCH site. This is quite young but it is growing. Of significant note is that all OU’s OpenLearn courses (all 600 of them!) are going up into MOOCH at some point. Helen encourages everyone to share their courses.
- tracker.moodle.org is not just for developers, it’s for everyone to use to report issues and add feature requests. It’s important to vote for tracker items that you want prioritised. She pointed out that there are pushing 7,000 open issues however with only 15 HQ developers it is tough for them to play catchup with these. HQ need your help to triage, fix and patch these issues. You can order by popular issues and these are good ones to fix if you can.
- moodle.org/forums shows icons for helpful Moodlers, certified Moodlers, etc. You can rate useful posts and this helps determine Useful Moodler membership. Recently rated posts will move onto moodle.org frontpage soon. Her key message was “Don’t be daunted by the forums!”
Helen ended by showing the excellent You Might Be A Moodler page to much laughter as the audience immediately recognised themselves in the list!
Case study sessions
So I then did my session on Moodle in the NHS. This was preceded by two other case study sessions. The first was by National Off License Association with their session titled “Tackling Alcohol-Related Problems Through Online Training”. It it turned NoffLA selected the wine for last night’s dinner, and a great job they did of it too! They were followed by Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) who demonstrated a really nice looking Moodle-Drupal-Mahara integration built by Ireland Moodle Partners Enovation. I was next up with my Moodle in the NHS presentation and was able to share what we have done at Epic with six NHS organisations, covering how they handle user registration, course enrolment, organisation hierarchies, management reporting, compliance tracking and mobile learning. The NHS presentation is on Slideshare.
Towards Context-Specific Personalised Learning in Moodle
Enovation showed up again in the next session as they were involved with a really interesting project which looked at delivering context sensitive learning in Moodle. This was a proof-of-concept project with Industry sponsored use cases and a consortium of academic institutions providing research around each use case. This was really interesting stuff and showcased some very innovative proof of concept work with Moodle. Further details can be found at http://www.percolate.ie/
Managing multiple Moodles
After lunch I had another session to present, this time I was up with Alex Buchner of Synergy Learning. It was great to meet Alex and Davo from Synergy at the Moot, they are great guys and are doing some really interesting stuff. Our session was themed around managing multiple Moodles. Alex was on first with an engaging and interesting piece on Moodle Multi-tenancy. There are various approaches to MT in Moodle depending on whether you want centrally or locally managed users and courses and a number of other factors which he talked us through. Now that this feature has been dropped from M2.3 it is up to organisations to architect their own MT solutions and Alex’s presentation was an excellent primer. I then took the floor to look at Moodle Flavours, which is a plugin allowing Admins to package up a set of ‘ingredients’ such as site settings, module settings, plug-ins, themes, custom reports and more into a ZIP file which can then be installed onto other Moodle sites, easing the burden of managing multiple sites. The Flavours presentation is on Slideshare.
City University’s Strategic Learning Environment
I caught Michael Hughes’ presentation on City University’s SLE. I spoke with Mike at Epic’s Forward Thinking event a few weeks ago and it was good to meet up again at the Moot and hear more about what he and the team are doing at City University. This was an interesting presentation on planning for a M2 upgrade, a very considered and well planned approach that is taking place over several years, and had some good pieces on audience engagement and reporting/analytics.
The other big thing for me today was what I missed! My own presentations clashed with some other ones I really wanted to see, in particular some sessions focussing on UI problems with Moodle, including Sussex University’s Stuart Lamour. Stuart’s session turned out to be the talk of the day, and can be summed up as a call to arms to improve the Moodle UI. I was fortunate to have a conversation with the Sussex guys at the drinks presentation the night before and at lunchtime today. I’ve been following their work through their blog for some time so it was great to meet in person at last. We talked about starting up a Brighton Moodle User Group for sharing work and ideas, so interested parties please get in touch and we’ll sort something out.
The other cool thing I saw today was Davo Smith’s drag and drop uploader. He presented this yesterday while I was in another session, to widespread gasps of astonishment by the sounds of it. The plugin allows you to drag files straight from your desktop or file manager into a Moodle course without using the Moodle file picker, and it works an absolute treat. Davo built this in his own time and is rightly proud of what he has achieved, and was also able to announce that it has been accepted for inclusion into Moodle 2.3 core code. When you see this, you will love it, I guarantee.
So that was it for me. My first Moodle Moot all over. It was a fantastic experience and really good to make so many new acquaintances and meet old friends. Huge thanks to Gavin Henrick for both encouraging me to attend and for doing such a great job of organising the event, I was really impressed by the professionalism of the whole thing. Sounds like next year there may be separate UK and Ireland events which is a shame as there is clearly some great Moodle work happening in Ireland, but whatever I certainly aim to be back again for another dose of Moodle community goodness!