Technology, Innovation, Education

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Did You Know Moodle 2.0 Will….? (Online Educa 2009)

Martin Dougiamas spoke about Moodle 2.0 at the 2009 Online Educa in Berlin

Martin Dougiamas spoke about Moodle 2.0 at the 2009 Online Educa in Berlin. Photograph by David Ausserhofer and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Germany License.

I have written about Moodle 2.0 before. But last week in Berlin I had the opportunity to attend two more presentations by Martin Dougiamas about the plans for the next major version of Moodle and I have gotten a better idea of how things will work.

Moodle.com is completely transparent about their plans. You can read the roadmap and view the latest version of the planning document at any time. 16 developers are in Prague right now, making sure all of this will actually happen (search for #moodledev09 on Twitter).

My overview below is not complete. It is just some of the things I thought were interesting. Here we go! Did you know Moodle 2.0 will…

  • …look much better. The way that themes work will change completely. This will allow for much more flexible templating and theming. Moodle has Patrick Malley as the theme coordinator. He has been commissioned to create 20 beautiful themes that will ship with Moodle 2.0. Moodle will not ship with any of the old themes. The old icons will be replaced with a new set based on the Tango guidelines. All of this is great news as most Moodle sites do use the default themes (see this 12.6MB image of registered Dutch Moodle sites for examples).
  • …break most things. The 2.0 release is seen as the chance to do things differently. A lot of code will be refactored. There will be a smooth upgrade from 1.9 to 2.0 for the core code, but any customisations and extra modules will more than likely need an update. Examples? Every designed theme will need to be updated, 1.9 backups will probably not restore in 2.0 (update: there is a workaround) and old ways of getting files into the system (FTP anyone?) will not work anymore.
  • …allow you to search for Flickr images with a particular Creative Commons licence and will add the license to the image itself. This is one of my pet favourites, because it shows how anyone who is willing to be part of the dialogue around Moodle development (regardless of whether they are a developer or not) can influence the feature set of Moodle. I created a request for this feature in the Moodle Tracker and Martin demoed it in both his presentations in Berlin. We still need to get the user interface right, but the functionality is there.
  • …have the concept of a finished course. In current versions of Moodle there is no way to let the system know that a particular learner has finished the course. The concept just doesn’t exist. A lot of people require this functionality. It could be used as a trigger for sending the course grade to some other system, or could trigger the creation of a certificate.
  • …allow for conditional activities. In 2.0 you can make the availability of activities and resources for a particular learner dependent on certain conditions. These conditions could be the completion status of a particular activity (what completed means depends on the type of activity) or a grade for a particular activity. Finally it will be possible to set up your course in advance and then let it run by itself! No facilitation required! If Skinner is still your educational philosopher of choice, you will be very happy with this functionality! On a more serious note: this will allow for even more flexible Moodle course setups and that is never a bad thing.
  • …import external blogs. I believe blogging should be done on a platform that is as open as possible. This way your audience can be as large as possible and that means the interactions and dialogue around your blog will be at its most valuable. This is the reason why I don’t use the internal blogs that my employer provides me with and why I don’t have an active blog on Moodle.org or on any other Moodle installation. Not only will Moodle have a proper RSS feed for your internal blog, it will also allow you to import an external blog (based on a feed URL and on tags) and make it available internally. Moodle will make sure that the posts are in sync: so if you delete a post on your internal blog, it will also be removed from your internal blog. Brilliant!
  • …have a decent HTML editor that works in more than two browsers. HTML Area, the HTML editor that current versions of Moodle use, is old and crusty and does not work in many browsers. Moodle 2.0 will integrate TinyMCE, an HTML editor that has a larger and vibrant development community. It will work on Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome/Chromium. All Moodle users will really appreciate this change (even if they might not be aware of it).
  • …allow comments on everything. This is the pedagogical big winner for me. It is possible to add a comment block to nearly every resource/activity in Moodle 2.0. This will allow for a lot of peer feedback which can then be aggregated in different places (in the course, in a users profile?). I recently did a course on Rapid e-Learning Design where one of the core activities was commenting on other people’s work. The richness of interaction that this created was amazing. I am just hoping that the development team will think real hard about some of the user interface decisions around the comment API: that will make all the difference.
  • …have a workshop module that you are not scared of using. Currently the workshop module is broken. I would not recommend anybody to use it. The peer feedback concept that it embodies is not broken though! David Mudrák has completely rewritten the workshop module and the first comments are very positive.
  • …will have a built-in feedback/survey module. Modules that implement survey functionality in Moodle have always been the most popular add-ons. Andreas Grabs’ Feedback module will become part of the Moodle core code from 2.0 onwards.
  • …will not eat disk space if a file is used or uploaded multiple times. We all know the problem. You have a course that has a 300MB presentation in it. The course is duplicated for another run. Now you have two courses with 600MB of presentations. This problem is a thing of the past in Moodle 2.0. All information about files and where they are used is stored in the database (drastically improving the security around who can access a particular file). The files itself are stored on the filesystem. A SHA-1 check on each new file will make sure that identical files are not stored twice.
  • …have a completely new way of navigating. The way users navigate a Moodle installation has gotten a complete rewrite. Tim Hunt has done a very commendable job involving the community in his design plans and there is an excellent page in the Moodle Docs explaining what it is going to look like. It boils down to a more consistent navigation bar, a new Ajaxy navigation block which allows you to jump to any resource/activity in any of your courses in one step and the moving of many of the module related settings that were hovering at the top right corner of the page to the administration block.
  • …be a reinvention of itself as a platform. Moodle was approaching the end of its life cycle as a “Walled garden” product. Moodle was ahead of the game in 2001, but has been passed by many of the developments on the Internet since its inception. When Moodle was first conceptualised things like WordPress MU, Ning, Flickr, Delicious and Wikipedia did not exist. Moodle needed to reinvent itself. The repository and portfolio APIs in combination with the Web Services layer will allow Moodle to become much more a platform than an application. Moodle will keep its relevance or will become relevant again (depending on your viewpoint on the state of educational technology). I am already imagining the Moodle App Store.
  • …change the world of education (if nothing else). I think that Moodle already has had a very positive impact on the world of education, but if the Moodle Hubs scheme works, it will be a lot easier for teachers to share the share their best practices and collaborate with other teachers the world over.

I am certainly looking forward to its release! Are you excited yet?

Written by Hans de Zwart

10-12-2009 at 15:00

38 Responses

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  1. Hi Hans,
    Thanks for writing this post. Gives me a lot of insight in Moodle’s upcoming innovations. Very usefull!

    Ciao! Job

    Job

    10-12-2009 at 15:20

  2. Thanks for the nice words about the Moodle 2.0 Navigation changes. However, I only built some of the behind the scenes stuff. It was Sam Hemelryk – a relatively new Moodle.com developer – who actually built the new navigation using the infrastructure I had put in place. He deserves half the credit.

    Tim Hunt

    10-12-2009 at 16:09

    • Another commendable part of your character: giving credit where credit is due! So here goes: Thanks Sam! :-)

      I was mainly impressed with the design process for Navigation 2.0. I really liked how transparent you were in your thought processes and how explicit you were in asking for feedback. To me that is model behaviour for any open source programmer.

      Hans de Zwart

      10-12-2009 at 16:28

  3. Nice post Hans!

    This really sums it up and gives everyone, even the long time Moodle users, a nice readable overview on Moodle 2.0

    Pieterjan Heyse

    10-12-2009 at 16:36

    • Well it is not a true overview: I left many things out!

      Hans de Zwart

      10-12-2009 at 16:41

  4. Hans, always enjoy reading your post. Our school has slowly taken on our re-brand – Skoogle (Moodle/Google/School) as named by the students. Our lesson today ended with a peer review of audio commericals – written / directed by the students in a fourm. It was great to see their engagement and mutual support for one another. As a small school we suffer from traditional moodle newbie erros, and your review helps us plan which we address and which we plan to leave for Moodle 2.0 – thanks

    kristianstill

    10-12-2009 at 17:45

    • Hey Kristian, Good to hear from you again! I think your “small school” is actually quite far ahead of the game! I like your example of an audio assignment with peer review in a forum activity. In Moodle 2.0 students might actually be able to comment on individual forum posts, which really does feel different to them than answering in a real post…

      Hans de Zwart

      10-12-2009 at 23:33

  5. I think the app store idea is awesome. A great API that allows for the development of said apps, in lieu of a library of modules and addons would be much better for allowing quick upgrades and such (and would really change what developers do in terms of adding functionality and how they do it).

    Nice synopsis. I will admit though, that “breaks everything” makes me a little scared since there are so many installations out there. It will be a lot of work to clean up.

    Joseph Thibault

    10-12-2009 at 19:59

    • Thank you for your comment Joseph. Upgrading to Moodle 2.0 will be quite a project, especially for large and complex installations. I do think the pressure from users for an upgrade will be high: they want all the new features. If you are not a Moodle consultant yet, this might be a good time! ;-)

      Hans de Zwart

      10-12-2009 at 23:35

      • I was pretty scared about the no restoring of earlier versions of Moodle, but Martin (via Twitter) recently set the record straight saying that it will be possible (through a hack I think) and that later 2.0+ releases will address the gap. So good news all around!

        Joseph Thibault

        16-12-2009 at 23:12

  6. Hi Hans,

    nice summary.

    I was intrigued by the concept of a a “finished course”. This will really help enterprise integrations especially integrating into existing admin processes.
    This could help a smoother landing for Moodle as it connects into existing paradigms and is therefore less disruptive, potentially leading to greater uptake in the Enterprise.

    Allan Frame

    12-12-2009 at 09:44

    • Hey Allan, I was thinking exactly the same when I wrote about the trigger!

      Hans de Zwart

      21-12-2009 at 10:35

  7. Hi Hans,

    Great post. Been meeting to write something similar but now I am just sending users here as you have done such an eloquent job.

    Many thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    Julian

    Moodleman

    13-12-2009 at 22:59

    • Hey Julian, thanks for the compliment!

      In retrospect I just wish I had given a more complete overview of Moodle 2.0. Lots of people are referencing this post and are not reading anything about the portfolio API, sitewide groups, the new messaging system, the new version of the wiki, secure RSS feeds, etc.

      See you at iMoot

      Hans de Zwart

      21-12-2009 at 10:33

  8. Hi Hans, tnx for this great post. It is really usefull to read this aside the information on the community site.

    From the years i’m currently working with technology, i’ve gotten a little allergic for telling people (clients) about next versions. “All your problems will be solved in our next release sir :))” But it seems like Moodle 2.0 really is going to be a great leap forward. You have made me real curious about the import functionality for ext. blogs. At the moment I’m looking into how to use portfolio’s for employee development from an organizational perspective. One of the tensions here is personal – organizational blogging. This new functionality might help a bit here. I’m wondering about the perspectives regarding the link with mahara.

    Cheers,
    Joost

    Joost Robben

    14-12-2009 at 15:17

  9. [...] that Moodle is growing up and into a next generation learning management system.  Recently, at HansdeZwart.info a list of new or refreshed Moodle 2.0 features was created and their various impacts were [...]

  10. I knew that v2.0 was coming, but didn’t know what to expect. Nice article. To answer your final question, YES! I AM very excited about the changes it will bring to classrooms around the world!

    Jim Gates

    15-12-2009 at 15:51

  11. [...] be released in early 2010) would not support restoring courses from 1.9 or earlier Moodle versions (source).  Martin Dougiamas recently, via Twitter (@Moodler), set the record straight a) acknowledging [...]

  12. Great insight! I have read it lots of times using it to inspire me with some writing I’ve been doing and I felt I really should thank you for posting.

    Mary Cooch

    20-12-2009 at 15:03

    • Your thank you is much appreciated! I know you are a very active member of the online Moodle community, so maybe I should be the one thanking you!

      Hans de Zwart

      21-12-2009 at 10:36

  13. [...] be able to use Moodle again in the Spring, so I am very happy!  That made Stephen’s link to Hans’ post even more exciting!  It seems that Moodle 2.0, which should be out in beta in February, is going [...]

  14. [...] Did You Know Moodle 2.0 Will….? (Online Educa 2009) [...]

  15. [...] “Did You Know Moodle 2.0 Will…” Hans de Zwart writes: “Not only will Moodle have a proper RSS feed for your internal [...]

  16. This is exciting… thank you for the summary/insight.

    monika hardy

    26-12-2009 at 17:50

  17. [...] Did You Know Moodle 2.0 Will….? (Online Educa 2009) « Hans de Zwart: Technology as a Solution… Posted on December 26, 2009 by glieux via blog.hansdezwart.info [...]

  18. Hi,

    Great post… It’s my first touch with the new version and it’s sound to be realy nice.

    JFDragon

    27-12-2009 at 04:56

  19. [...] Did You Know Moodle 2.0 Will….? (Online Educa 2009) « Hans de Zwart: Technology as a Solution… Nice overview of the upcoming changes to Moodle in version 2.0 (tags: elearn moodle) [...]

  20. [...] Did You Know Moodle 2.0 Will….? Moodle 2.0 release notes Moodle 2.0 Roadmap [Translate] [...]

  21. [...] · Reply · View AD_Moodler: RT @moodlefairy: @ad_web Hans de Zwart did a good post http://blog.hansdezwart.info/2009/12/10/did-you-know-moodle-2-0-will-online-educa-2009/ 2010-02-13 21:10:33 · Reply · View SandraTaosaka: ISchool teachers working! Miss [...]

  22. Hello Hans,

    very interesting article and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
    I also wrote on article on Moodle 2.0 and added you as reference:

    http://blog.e-learning.tu-darmstadt.de/2010/02/21/moodle-2-0-ab-1-juli-verfugbar/

    kind regards fron germany
    Klaus

    Klaus

    21-02-2010 at 16:21

    • Thanks for the reference Klaus! It was a pleasure to write the article… I only wished I had written a more complete overview!

      Hans de Zwart

      21-02-2010 at 17:47

  23. [...] More info from Hans de Zwart [...]

  24. [...] 2.0 coming out next month. Read more here! Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Did You Know Moodle 2.0 Will….? (Online Educa [...]

  25. [...] Did You Know Moodle 2.0 Will….? (Online
    Educa 2009) December 2009 34 comments 3 [...]

  26. [...] such negative opinions are some of the exciting features included in the next release of Moodle. The open source LMS is getting ready to roll out version 2.0 which will include support for [...]

  27. [...] Did You Know Moodle 2.0 Will….? (Online Educa 2009) « Hans de Zwart: Technology as a Solution… — Rhis is a great preview of new features we can expect in Moodle 2.0. [...]

  28. [...] Did You Know Moodle 2.0 Will….? (Online Educa 2009) « Hans de Zwart: Technology as a Solution… [...]


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