I’ve just returned from the Ireland and UK Moodle Moot held in Glasgow, Scotland. moodle is our virtual learning environment and as I’ve explained in previous posts we are keen to make better and more effective use of it. This means moving from its use as a repository of learning materials to an engaging learning tool that effectively facilitates student interaction and allows delivery of our blended learning courses. Moodle does seem to be up for the job. As a well-established open source tool it has a large community of developers and users all working towards it’s goal: “to give the world the most effective platform for learning”.
Martin Dougiamas, moodle founder and CEO delivered the opening plenary (and facilitated quite a lot of the sessions). He covered how moodle is focused on supporting the Sustainable development Goals, a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. Goal 4 covers Quality Education. Martin explained how moodle has been at an inflection point (the increased uptake of other VLEs may be a contributing factor here) leading the team to talk to investors. They have finally opted to partner with Education for the many, an investment company owned by the Decathlon sports store who have invested 6 million dollars in the company.
This further investment is allowing Moodle to work on two key areas:
- The Learn moodle project – building a curriculum to aid users (teachers, lecturers etc.) in learning to teach online delivered in mulltilingual courses with certifications and accreditation. Learn moodle will be aligned under DigCompEdu, a European commission digital competencies framework.
- The moodlenet project – building an online community around moodle that will replace the moodle.org forums and will be the place in which to share all moodle resources, ideas and developed tools. Moodlenet will sit between tech and pedagogy and will unite developers and users.
The moot covered many important areas but the key takeaways for me were:
GDPR – Moodle 3.5 out in May 2018 will bring new security features for GDPR compliance. In the meantime there are two plugins that will help with ensuring that the VLE and its users offer clarity on how user data is used. At RAU we are in the process of upgrading Moodle and will have these plugins working soon. However creating more online content brings more GDPR considerations such as video rights, discussion forum content etc.
Plugins – so many to choose from and many interesting ideas to help us deliver our blended learning courses. The ones I hope we will look at soon are: BigBlueButton (for communication with remote users), Intelliboard (for analytics), H5P (see below) and Lifecycle (to organise courses).
H5P is where it is at! – H5P allows you to create, share and reuse interactive HTML5 content in your browser. Although its intergration with Moodle isn’t perfect (for example you can’t link it to moodle quizzes so some data can be lost) it is a very powerful interactive tool for video, quizzes etc.
Look and Feel – Moodle can look incredibly slick if you have the know how: themes, CSS and the rest. We also need to investigate user tours, tags, global search and quite a lot of other things. A version upgrade will help here.
Good practice – Moodlers like to share and there are a lot of course sites that we can look at (e.g. Orange county) and demo sites we can explore (thanks to DCU here). The 3E framework for moodle is a good place to start. Learn moodle is a FutureLearn MOOC that runs every 6 months – next one starts in June.
Accessibility – moodle is accessible by default (the Atto editor brought in a few years ago has an inbuilt accessibility checker) but we could be better. This may mean better support for those creating content, creating subtitles on videos or making more use of timing overrides for special needs students.
All in all it was a great conference. Some really interesting sessions on gamification, blended learning, learning analytics and accessibility. I also met lots of moodlers who were very keen to help us with specific issues – now or in the future – I’m definitely going to take them up on that offer!