Moodle as a learning platform

Moodle as a learning platform was the title of the keynote presented by Martin Dougiamas, Lead Developer and Director of Moodle Pty Ltd on 2 July 2012 at the Australian Moodle Conference on the Gold Coast.

The keynote presentation highlighted Moodle as a platform, current major projects being undertaken by Moodle HQ, demonstrated key features of the recent Moodle 2.3 release, looked to future developments for Moodle 2.4 and beyond, including mobile.

According to Dougiamas, Moodle HQ’s current focus is on four key areas: plugins, processes, usability and integrations. Plugins are akin to apps for the Moodle platform and things have been greatly simplified for developers and users since Moodle 2.0 with improved database, documentation and translation capabilities for plugins.

As far as processes go, the core development team aim to make Moodle development efficient, transparent, predictable, stable and open. This includes work related to Moodle Tracker for managing software-related issues, Git revision control system, Moodle Documentation, development roles, process automation and software training for core staff.

With regard to usability, relevant projects mentioned include tracker issues/voting, user surveys, partner feedback, Moodle.org‘s open community hub (aka MOOCH), moodle.org, moodle.com and usability studies. Moodle considers itself a team member for integrations including repositories, learning tools such as IMS LTI, IMS CC, OAuth 2.0 and Open Badges.

Looking ahead to Moodle 2.4, major projects being worked on include:

  • Performance: Moodle Universal Cache to improve performance for larger sites;
  • Usability: new interface for course/category management and new default iconset;
  • Forum: review of ForumNG from Open University UK – as replacement for forum in core;
  • Calendar: import iCal streams into Moodle calendar;
  • Upgrade 1.9 to 2.2: increase robustness for wider range of sites;
  • Assignment: more new features to come;
  • Mobile: new HTML5 app for all platforms using REST services will be faster, open source, modular and extensible (current iPhone app is now open source but will not be maintained by HQ).

Major projects for the near future (i.e. 2.5 and beyond) include:

  • Plugins: direct download and upgrade via web interface ala WordPress;
  • Course formats: make course formats more flexible and pluggable;
  • Repository plugin: direct audio/video recording into Moodle;
  • Wiki: review OUWiki – as replacement for wiki in core;
  • Collection module: combines survey, questionnaire and feedback activities;
  • MNET: replacement using OAuth 2.0 mechanisms and web services;
  • Multi-tenancy: framework to make it easy to manage multiple Moodle instances.

In summary, the Moodle software remains open, flexible and extensible. Importantly, usability has improved and continues to be a development priority. Furthermore, easier management of contributed plugins and a better mobile application are on the road map. It’s definitely an exciting time to be part of the Moodle Community.

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