This post will act as a live blog and will feature my notes from all the sessions I attend today, as well as any thoughts or ideas I want to come back to. It will be updated frequently, so keep your finger on the refresh button.
Note I was frantically typing throughout many of these sessions (as the 16 pages worth of notes will indicate), so if there are any errors or additions required please leave a comment.
2012 Moodle Program: http://moodlemoot.org.au/mod/page/view.php?id=31
Session One: Welcome to Morning Tea
8:48: Settling in for Allan Christie’s Welcome Message. Smooth jazz creating a very groovy atmosphere.
8:51: Surf classic “Wipeout” marks the start of the day.
Heaps of people here for the first time (myself included).
8:55: Professor Belinda Tynan now talking about collective intelligence and the value of the Moodle community.
Welcome to the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.
Attended UNESCO open resources meeting. Declaration on open education.
USQ was first Oz uni to introduce Moodle. Last week went live with Moodle 2.2.
“Be playful, engage, be present. You are the game changers. We are here because we want to enhance the learning experience of our students.”
9:00: Allan Christie takes the podium
Delighted with attendance. Just shy of 500 delegates. Supports decision in 2009 (NB: which was what?). Community wanted Moodle to reflect enterprise level nature.
10% of delegates this year from outside of Australia. Welcome again.
20 Netspot staff here this week & vibrant Twitter stream
[Note to self: wear thongs tomorrow.]
Just missed important information on logistics. Damn.
9:13: Introducing founder of Moodle, Martin Dougiamas
Explaining the open source nature of Moodle. Access to code allows for extensibility as well as integration with other systems via standards.
Moodle HQ focusing on:
Discussing Plugins. Moodle should be as easy to extend as your phone.
- Plugins like “apps” for Moodle OS
- Easier for developers
- Easier for users
- Particularly since Moodle 2.0
Repository for plugins: http://moodle.org/plugins
Discussing QA/QC processes surrounding introduction of new plugins. Reviews, quality checks in place to ensure stability
Moodle 2.3 contacts DB to check to see if there are new versions of plugins. If available you have the option to upgrade (much like WordPress dashboard). Automated upgraded planned for Moodle 2.4; currently manual process in 2.3.
Every web application has security issues, therefore they upgrade systems constantly. Building a system to make upgrading easier; much like WordPress.
In January, Moodle HQ spent month writing documentation for developers writing plugins; api’s, standards, etcetera
Language translation system – 80 or 90 languages supported currently. Discussing screenshot of plugin activity being translated.
Focus 2: Processes:
Making Moodle development:
Strive for complete openness, not partial openness. Every change in
- Moodle Docs
- Dev roles
Moodle goes through at least 3 reviews. Moodle docs link points to proper version.
Tim Barker is Test Manager. Building systems to automatically test, check every time code comes in to Moodle. Some checks happen every night. Now 600 tests running continuously every night; they will get alerts when anything fails.
All developers are certified coure creators.
Moodle HQ Roles
- DEV team
- TEST team
- STABLE team
- INTEGRATION team – holders of keys to the castle
To get anything into Moodle, must go through Integration team. Look at everything critically. If you want to add something to Moodle (core) most likely bounce off of Integration team several times.
Very hard to make usable software.
Solving user frustration:
- Gathering experiences
- [missed this one]
- [missed this one]
- Tracker issues/voting
- Periodic user surveys
- Feedback from moodle partner
- Mooch (+other Hubs)
- Moodle.org, Moodle.com
- Usability studies
MOOCH: Resource for course design sharing and reuse.
4. Integrations - Moodle as a team member
- Learning Tools (IMS LTI) – standard for letting Moodle interact with other sites; like SCORM but for sites
- IMS CC
- OAuth 2.0 – Login using alternative account credentials (e.g. Twitter, FB)
- Open Badges – digitally signed badges for inclusion on things like CVs
- No more scroll of death – long blocks of content scroll within block
- Improvements to AJAX interface (dragging blocks)
- “Activity Chooser” replaces dual “Add an Activity”, “Add a Resource” drop down menus
- More content sensitive help documentation; double click on help topic to create a resource/activity of that type
- File Picker cleaned up – icon view, full table view, tree view
- New repositories – Wikimedia; DropBox (uses OAuth to connect); Box.net; Equella
- Two Flickrs – One for your private photos; second for public resources
- Unzip ZIP
- Attach as ZIP
- Add as SCORM Package
Faster drag and drop + title editing; embed audio/voice recordings.
Repository: can now have aliases to files. Previously had to copy content over; now (in some repositories) can create alias / short cut to original file. Maintains link to file. If you update the original file it updates in Moodle as well. Also maintains access permissions.
New Marking Guide:
- Frequently used comments appear as quick list; can be re-entered with a click.
- Drag and drop feedback as attached files
Considerations for getting a change into Moodle?
- How much it supports our pedagogical focus
- Does it make life easier for most users
- Number of votes from existing users
- Can it be developed in a generic way to help many
- How long it will take to develop
- Is it easier just to integrate with something existing
- [Missed this]
- [Missed this]
- [Missed this]
Discussing upcoming changes.
Mobile should be using Moodle Web Services – properly factors in permissions and access considerations that may not be present if using mobile to access main desktop version.
Moodle Mobile -
- iPhone source code is now open source
- Uses XML-RPC web services
- Will not be maintained
- Make your own app from it if you like
- HTML5 + PhoneGap = All platforms
- Uses REST web services (faster)
- Developed by CV&A and HQ
- Open source, modular, extensible
- Contribute! Or base your own app on it.
Future: Looking long term
1st Moodle Research Conference: Heraklion, Crete-Greece
- Early Bird Registration: 16th July 2012
- Papers: 24 accepted from 46 submitted
- One stream only
- Margaret River in Perth
- 40 Developers (all of HQ devs plus 20 others)
- Brainstorming future tech developments
- Deciding on architecture changes
- Working on code together
- 5 days
Questions from the floor:
Q1: Advice for institutions still on 1.9?
A1: Try upgrading (LOL). Make copy of site on other machine. Get 2.2 and try upgrade; will discover issues as you go. If you have a lot of hacks or 3rd party code & remove them (if unnecessary) or repeat them in new version. If 3rd party code, check for upgrades and test in new system.
Q2: Site-wide Reporting?
A2: Bug in tracker currently discussing this. Two ideas being considered:
- Customiseable Reports from CVA
- Report Building from Totara (spelling?)
Currently in contention with one another. Hopefully one of them will be included in 2.4
Q3: Multi-tenancy? What is it and when can we expect it.
A3: Tried to build for 2.3. When you have 1 set of source code that can act as multiple different sites. Was looking promising, but began to get more complex. Initally paused but now abandoned.
Better idea to build shell around Moodle; create one shell and then add different instances. Makes whole lot of problems go away.
Q4: Competition plugins that compile visual reports?
A4: Might want to look at Customisesable Reports plugin.
Q5: Record audio plugin
A5: [Developer in Audience, Paul (surname not provided).] Currently uses Flash; wants to add HTML 5 support. At the moment HTML 5 isn’t quite there yet. Hopefully coming in the future. Doesn’t require streaming server.
Q6: Learning Analytics Plugin (who has interacted with whomever). Where do you see learning analytics going in Moodle.
A6: Once we get mobile going, it will be an interesting combination with analytics. Want notification that student hasn’t been seen for a couple of weeks – here is their #, give them a call. Like Nagios for Moodle.
Q7: How do I provide feedback to individual students via attachment.
A7: Upload Multiple Files; improved in Moodle 2.3
Q8: Can students upload to external repositories and give other students access to the files?
A8: See Equella session this afternoon. Depends on external repository. Basic example: can map external disc, upload to that disc
Q9: Experiencing sluggishness in new version of Moodle.
A9: Is it large institution? (Answer: yes, TAFE). Tuning sometimes needs to be redone. DB system needs to be configured for caching, memory use; many variables available. That said 2.3 is a big improvement on 2.2. So there is less hitting of the server.
We need real data to help troubleshoot things. Provide feedback to tracker.
[End of Morning Session - time for coffee!!]
Session Two: Morning Tea to Lunch
Due to the multi-stream nature of the conference I was unfortunately unable to get notes on all sessions. So the following are from the ones I attended:
11:00 to 11:25 – The University of Waikato’s Moodle 2 Journey
Teresa Gibbison, The University of Waikato
Community Testing - April – November 2011
- UOW Code Upgrade
- B Semester Pilot
- Information Sessions
- PD & Help Files
- Upgrade & Release
- Information Sessions
- Design Sessions
- Theme Overhaul
Have users, students, courses, profiles, and enrollments all processed automatically, as well as authentication method. All needed to be implemented first.
Next assessed which plugins were to be included. Were very careful here.
- Took new version of 2.1 code
- Reimpliment custom changes
- Add plugins
- Run updates
Created support course with open enrollment. Added documentation, tutorials, etc. People were able to go in and locate resources they needed.
- Generally Positive
- Staff & Students Coped Well
- Separate Moodle Site
- General Moodle Understanding – some minor confusion about collapsed blocks (thinking the content had disappeared)
- Feedback Form added to site
- Usability (User) Confusion
- Navigation Changes
- File System – Popup
- Bugs Identified
- Theme Polished
- Upgrade vs Fresh Install
- Course Import
- Teaching Schedule
- Panopto Authentication (lecture capture)
- Several Dry Upgrades
- Two Day ‘Relaxed’ Process
- Day 1 – Read Only Mode v1.9
- Authenticated User Capabilities
- 4 hours (over 14,000 papers, 365,000 files)
- Completion & Selective Release
Put Prod Moodle into maintenance; backed up site; then released Prod with read-only access (preventing new changes).
- Enrollment Method Change ~10 – 20 minutes
- File Links & the DNS Change ~ 14 hours (overnight)
- Timing of Upgrade – Exam week
Q1: Do you have a dedicated Moodle support team or do questions go through the main help desk?
A1: Two faculties have their own help desks, but most questions through central help desk. Some specific questions then forwarded to speaker’s team (only 6 people). Generally make people file a ticket for support requests but made an exception for the pilot staff.
11:30 – 11:55: Assignment 2.3 – Introducing the All New Assignment Module being Released in Moodle 2.3
Mark Drechsler, NetSpot
[NB: This session was standing room only and unfortunately there was no way for me to take notes.]
12:00 – 12:25: eCommunities: Moodle as a platform for communities of practice
Susan Cornish, TAFE NSW eLearning Hub and Mark Clarke, Hunter Institute of TAFE
URL (restricted): http://ecommunities.tafensw.edu.au/
[NB: I was late to this...]
Discussed Communities of Practice (Etienne Wenger)
- Access Knowledge
- Share Knowledge
- Create Knowledge
- [Missed this one]
- Gorgeous interface
- Tie online webinars (Adobe Connect) with Forum Discussions
- Staff profiles and use cases
- Monitor forums for unanswered forum questions. However site has largely reached “critical mass” and most posts receive replies from community.
- Task-based community – not just open ended; include activities for people to complete, which is shared amongst peers.
- Feature templates to help groups with layout design
- Use databases to allow sharing of files and weblinks
Issues / Considerations
- How to measure value – many, many different sources data
- How to evaluate data
Q1: Are there SME moderators for forums?
A1: A copy of every post is sent to central unit. Also coordinators for different communities and guests in-residence for a short period of time. Don’t worry about inactive forums; they tend to flare up periodically.
Q2: Is there any plan for recognition of contributions prof dev based
A2: Don’t provide systematic approach. Overall not their goal
Q3: How many staff support this?
A3: 20 people in their unit. Other people working on projects as needed.
Q4: Did you find other examplars that influenced how you put this together?
A4: Struggled to find examples. Some businesses have examples and a few let us look at their approaches.
13:30 – 13:55 Effective Moodle based Learning Design: Utilising Moodle based tools to create innovative learning design
Eamon Vale, The Centre for Macquarie English
[NB: Need to locate papers cited]
Discussign techno centric approaches
- Instructionism online (e.g. Khan Academy)
- The medium is the message (speaker argues it’s not)
- A delicate relationship
Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL)
- Equalisatio of student involvement
- Greater learner autonomy and shift in authority
- Greater complexity in structures produced
- Improved oral proficiency (missed the rest)
Problem Based Learning
- Learning Outcomes
- Model practice (scaffolding)
Productive Failure [aka "Delayed Structure"]
- Removed all initial scaffolding; replaced it after students attempt to navigate the activity
Experiment – Scaffolding vs Delayed Structure
- Two Groups: One given scaffolding; the other given none.
- First group performed well; second had trouble;
- When second well-scaffolded task was introduced, the delayed structure group performed better
14:00 to 14:25 Using Moodle Tools to Craft an Active Community of Inquiry
Fiona Nicolson and Lyn Collins Macquarie University
Constructing and confirming meaning through reflection & discourse in forums
- Students post initial arguments to forums and then have to support them via ongoing dialogue with their peers
- “The community of inquiry requires a shared intellectual focus” (Shawn, Garrison, & Richardson, 2009).
Group Task – Collaborative writing
- Students work in groups applying consumer behaviour theories to different cultural contexts.
- Self select into groups (via Moodle Group Tool)
- Students asked to negotiate content as appropriate and accept methodology
- Students decide which literature to include in report; student driven
- At end of project students post private reflection (via assignment submission tool)
Facilitating a Community of Inquiry
- Staff ask themselves: How important is teacher presence to you? Consider your personal pedagogy.
- Staff ask themselves: How do you establish a teacher presence online?
- Teachers facilitators, not a dominant force in the inquiry
Successful higher education experience: Ven Diagram
Use the tools together with purpose:
- Tools in isolation are not the answer – they need to be brought together with purpose.
- Consider your own context
Academic staff supported through:
- Self Help Guides
- Instructional Design Consultants
- Training Workshops
- 32 Unit Examples
Staff Activity: Planning Your Own Courses
- Reflect on your personal pedagogy
- Equip yourself (Prof Dev, upskill in Moodle tools, join Moodle community, seek feedback)
- Build the Learning Space that triggers and supports inquiry and encourages collaboration
- Provide adequate scaffolding, instructions, modeling and support for your student-driven online activities
- Set the Climate: Encourage social connections and foster a sense of belonging to a community of learning (video welcome message; careful choice of images)
- Support Discourse [modeling in forums, correcting a misconception, participating as a peer (do not dominate)]
- Keep inquiry process on track to ensure outcomes are met
Q1: Problem with tools: People may find a tool and then ask “how can we use this.” How do you build in a mechanism in which people look at things the other way around.
A1: Presenter 1: People do tend to want to use tech and not look at the course design. We just keep asking “what is it that you want to achieve or improve upon in your courses?” Based on that they then look at what tools would help address the need and/or issue.
Presenter 2: Because we’ve just moved to Moodle, quite a lot of training has been available to staff. So knowing the tools is part of the training philosophy. Staff understand the capabilities of the tools an can apply this to their design planning.
Q2: How many students can a lecture successfully handle.
A2: There is a line of thought in which “the more students, the better.” IN those sorts of communities the role of the teacher really shrinks and the role of the teacher is handed over to students. So it becomes more genuinely student driven.
14:30 – 14:55 MGSM online MBA: Accounting made cool
Jason LaGreca, Access MQ and Eleanor Duncan, MGSM
Talking about how to make an MBA more engaging and yet not really time intensive for the teaching staff
- Flash forbidden by university
- Platform agnostic – mobile, desktop, ipad; multiple OS’s
- Easily print to paper
- Site construction needs to be intuitive as staff would be taking over its maintenance
- Students like to have a spot to meet and chat with each other. Needed a chat room for students to meet the same need online (named “The Lounge”)
- Break out rooms
- Time of day is relative; activities given ranges not firm times
- Each topic can be accessed at any day; e.g. do readings in advance
- Deliberate flow of learning outcomes; asked academics for a table and description of how students would progress through and towards them
Activity Structure: Achieve, Read, Synthesize, Engage, Collaborate, Reflect
- Learning Outcomes with tick box
- Introductory Video
- Textbook and Course Notes: Access to fundamentals on that topic as students come from differing backgrounds, some with undergrad business knowledge some without.
- Self-tests and formative assessments used to provide flexibility; students who haven’t done the assessment will be recognised in following activities
- Group Forums
- Academic Reflection
- Personal Reflection
16:00 to 16:30 Developing e-learning capability for Library Staff
Steven Yates, Monash University
Discussed a professional development course that trained staff in design and production of Captivate projects. Incorporated a system of student roles emphasizing participation, observation and review.
Consider semantics: “While you want a complex learning environment, you don’t want to word them in a complex way.”
- Captivate exports Flash files, which are not accessible on iPads.
16:30 – 16:55 “It’s life, Jim, but not as we’ve known it”
Stephan Schmidt, SITAC in the NT and eskills in the SA
- When do you work, and why do we work after hours?
- Where do you work?
- What do you use to do your work?
- What types of tools do you use?
“…it looks like it’s not that clear cut anymore!”
Technology is influencing the way we work. Flexibility; geographic independence; high mobility.
Reference: Workshifting: http://workshifting.com/
Used a Poll Everywhere poll to determine audience concensus on where we prefer to work:
- 10% preferred to work exclusively in an office
- 71% preferred to work in a mixture of office and remote
- 19% preferred to work exclusively removely
Build to Suit - Nothing wrong with classrooms or remote learning. It depends on the need.
What makes workshifting possible:
- Pro attitude from Employers, managers, CEO’s, Business owners
- Rethinking; Right Policies
- Skilled Employees; Skilled Employers
- Mobile devices
- Internet Access
- Cloud Computing
Using Moodle as the hub for a network of disparate schedules, activities and web presences. Collate all information necessary to work together as employees all over Australia.
Vision: “To provide quality advice on all matters pertaining to Vocational Education and Training in the Services Industries in the Northern Territory.”
[[End of Day]]