Testing MoodleNet sign-ups

Update: sign-ups for this are now closed, and Outlandish will be in touch with those who registered their interest!

Usability testing

Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be doing some online user testing of MoodleNet’s sign-up process. It will be run by Outlandish, with whome we’ve been working on front-end development and UX.

We’re aiming is to remove any barriers to adoption for the beta testing in January. So we need feedback on everything from “that button should be on the left” to “what on earth is that emoji ID thing?!”

It’s not remunerated, but you’d be front of the queue for a MoodleNet beta account (of which there’ll only be 100, initially) next year!

If that sounds like the kind of thing in which you’d be interested, here’s what to do:

  1. Introduce yourself here
  2. Check your availability for the following dates (GMT): Weds 14th (PM), Mon 19th (PM), Tues 20th November
  3. Fill in this form

Thanks in advance! We’re looking forward to making MoodleNet as awesome as possible!


Privacy notice: if you volunteer for testing, your details will be added to a spreadsheet, stored on Moodle HQ’s Google Drive. We’ll keep your information until the end of the testing process and share your details with Outlandish, who are overseeing the testing process. Before testing, you’ll be required to give your consent to ensure GDPR compliance.

Feedback from #MozFest and #MootUS18

Last week, members of the MoodleNet team ran well-attended sessions at the Mozilla Festival (London, UK) and the US MoodleMoot (Denver, CO, USA). The former was set within a wider framework of the decentralisation strand at MozFest, and the latter was an opportunity to gather ideas and feedback from a subsection of the Moodle community.

MozFest session post-its

#Mozfest

Notes from the session

As anyone who has been will know, the Mozilla Festival is a mind-blowing weekend of sessions, talks, and collaboration, all focused on the open web. Our accepted session proposal was based on MoodleNet, but also on the wider concept of decentralisation — particularly in relation to the ActivityPub protocol.

Participants in the session ranged from educators who were dipping a toe in the water of decentralised technologies, through to those who worked with, or for, the W3C.

As well as feedback on what we’re trying to build with MoodleNet, a key aim for the workshop was for participants to be able to explain the importance of decentralisation using stories, metaphors, and allegories.

Some of our favourites included:

  • “FREEDOM to do weird stuff”
  • “In nature there is no boss and it’s evolved, is sustainable and resilient”
  • “Distributed power, be it online, in person, or how we live”
  • “Put your OER to the fediverse and gain more attraction”
  • “You can have nice things without being the product”

MoodleMoot US post-its

#MootUS18

Notes from the session

MoodleMoots are events for the Moodle community which encourage collaboration and sharing of best practices. We ran very interactive session, with the aim to get as much feedback from workshop attendees as possible.

There were a range of participants, from Higher Ed CIOs, to K12 educators, to representatives from the corporate world. We learned a lot from the feedback we received, with some of the highlights being:

  • Insight into some of the tools that people are using that we haven’t come across before.
  • What participants liked about MoodleNet, what they have questions about, and what concerns them.
  • What we should add to MoodleNet after the core resource-sharing component.
  • Anything we’ve missed or haven’t discussed.

Interestingly, after the session, where participants had a lot of chance to ask questions and give feedback, two people came up to us separately and asked variations of the same question. Would organisations, they asked, be able to completely lock down MoodleNet so that it can only be used within that organisation?

We explained that this was not what we are aiming for with MoodleNet but that, of course, as open source software, there would be nothing stopping people from creating a version that would do this. We believe in the free and open sharing of educational resources, while recognising that there are some occasions (e.g. copyright, local laws) where resources would have to be restricted in some way.

We’re still working on working out the nuance here. One simple model is that which GitHub, the code-collaboration platform, uses. Creating a public repository on GitHub is available with a free account but, if you want to create a private repository, you have to pay. There’s an obvious parallel here with MoodleNet and collections, the key difference being the decentralised aspect.


Remember that anyone can suggest features for MoodleNet via our easy-to-use Changemap site!

MoodleNet front-end development update

Here’s a quick overview of the current front-end development work that the good people at Outlandish have been busy with over the last few weeks. It’s a work in progress, as you’ll see, but we thought you might like a sneak peek!

Click here to see the video if it’s not showing above. Please do leave your feedback either in the comments section below, on the moodle.org forum, or on YouTube.

An interview with Mary Cooch, Moodle’s Community Educator

We took the opportunity to sit down with Mary Cooch, Moodle’s Community Educator, and ask her questions about MoodleNet. With her deep experience of all things Moodle, we were interested in Mary’s perspective on what’s gone before and what’s coming next…


Mary Cooch1. Moodlers will know you best as Moodle’s Community Educator and your very visible work with the Learn Moodle Basics Moot, on the moodle.org forums, and at MoodleMoots. However, you also do a lot of work behind the scenes, including documentation and the existing moodle.net service. Could you explain a little bit about how you got involved with that and what it currently entails?

Shortly after I started to work full time for Moodle HQ, our CEO and founder, Martin Dougiamas, asked me to curate the content submitted to Moodle.net. This involves regularly checking the Moodle.net site to see which courses and other individual items are awaiting moderation. Every single item is downloaded and manually inspected. I look at the courses to see if they meet our course approval criteria and if they do, I make them publicly available.  (These are courses both which you can download and adapt for your own site, or courses into which you can enrol.) The same applies to individual items –  I add them to a test Moodle site to check that they work correctly and that their content is acceptable. New courses on Moodle.net then show up in the Resources feed on the front page of Moodle.org.

2. Some people might wonder why we’re building a new MoodleNet when Moodlers can already share courses via moodle.net. What are your thoughts on that?

Did you know that actually, the concept behind Moodle.net and the site itself date from before 2010? Things move on, technology moves on, and with people doing so much now from their smartphones, I think it’s a good idea that we have a revamp, and also get teachers sharing from their mobiles.

One issue with the current set up has always been that it’s not so intuitive how to submit your course or your content. We used to have a “Publish” button and people would mistakenly believe that by pressing this button it meant their own private course would be made accessible to their students, rather than share with the world. We’ve changed that now, so that it says “Share”. (See  What does sharing a Moodle course mean?) Unfortunately, many courses are still submitted in error.

We have some useful content uploaded – quiz questions, user tours, theme  and database presets, glossary entries, competency frameworks etc – but it would still be great if we had more educators sharing more content! It doesn’t have to be a whole course – maybe the thought of downloading and having to adapt a whole course is a bit overwhelming. I’d love it if you could simply go to Moodle.net, search for, say, a revision activity in your subject area, quickly find a recommended one, and add it  easily to your Moodle. In time for your class!

3. Social resource sharing via curated collections is only the first stage for MoodleNet. What would you like to see next?

From what I’ve seen it all looks very exciting. I just want it to be a hive of activity, an interesting place to hang out, a treasure trove of Moodle content!


Our thanks to Mary for taking the time to answer our questions. As you can see, MoodleNet is both an evolution from what has gone before and an exciting departure based on new thinking and technologies.

Questions? Add them in the section below, for either Mary or the MoodleNet team!

Introducing Alex Castaño, our new MoodleNet backend developer!

Alex collage

Work on MoodleNet continues at a rapid pace as we draw closer to the first beta release, scheduled for January 2019. As part of those efforts, we’re delighted to welcome Alex Castaño as a backend developer to the team!

Alex is Spanish and grew up in Andalucia, went to university in Seville, and now lives and works from Barcelona. He joins us on an initial six-month contract to work with Mayel de Borniol, MoodleNet’s Technical Architect, to create the infrastructure for a decentralised, federated, resource-centric social network for educators!

We asked Alex a few questions to find out more…

We would love to hear a bit about your work history?

I realised that using computers and programming were my passions when I was very young. Since then, I have been using only free software in my personal and professional life. For this reason, I’m really happy to collaborate in a project so open like MoodleNet on daily basis.

My professional career has been very varied: I created my own business, I’ve helped to “start up” startups, and I’ve fixed scalability problems in very consolidated companies. Now, I’m looking forward to creating an open source project which makes a difference.

What do you love about what you do?

One of the best sensations you can experience is to see how your work makes other people’s lives simpler, more enjoyable or just better. I’m hooked on that feeling.

In addition, I absolutely love learning new things. It is incredible how people are continuously creating and developing new stuff to make computer engineering more interesting.

What are your interests outside of work?

I like doing any kind of sport: football, tennis, gym, hiking, kitesurfing… I’m a regular reader and, of course, life wouldn’t be the same without travelling around the world.

Where is your favourite place in the world, and why?

“Sevilla tiene un color especial”, what means, “Seville has a special colour”. A lovely city with a lot of history. It has a nice river and bridges, absolutely incredible places to have a good meal, beautiful buildings and palaces, people are very open and kind, and last but not least, it has “Ramón Sanchez-Pizjuan” the stadium of Sevilla F.C. my football team!


If you would like to find out more about MoodleNet, and get involved in the project, please check out moodle.com/moodlenet.

Front-end development workshop with Outlandish (19th-21st September 2018)

Update: we’ve now crated a wiki page overview for this workshop!

Whiteboard

This week, the MoodleNet team were in London to work with Outlandish for a workshop on front-end development. Doug Belshaw (MoodleNet Lead) and Mayel de Borniol (Technical Architect) worked with Kayleigh Walsh (project manager), Sam Gluck (developer), and Rob Cornish (designer) on various aspects of how MoodleNet is going to work, look, and feel.

Given that we went into the workshop with a number of assumptions, it was useful to get these out onto the table. Doing so in an open way allowed us to challenge these assumptions in productive ways, leading to some useful decisions.

Everything from the three-day workshop can be found on our GitLab issues board, the highlights of which are perhaps:

We’re planning to continue working with Outlandish around front-end development as we lead up to the beta release, scheduled for January 2019. This will lead to a couple of new front-end development milestones, which we’re currently thrashing out.

Excitingly, next week we’ll be welcoming a new member of our team. More on that soon!

Introducing MoodleNet at ALT-C

Update: watch the recording of the session here!

This week, Doug Belshaw (MoodleNet Lead) is in Manchester, UK for the Association for Learning Technology’s annual conference, ALT-C.

Doug is presenting directly after the keynote in the main auditorium today, giving participants an overview of what MoodleNet is and how they can get involved in shaping it. The slides can be found embedded at the top of this post, or via this link: bit.ly/moodlenet-altc

GitLab issue board

GitLab overview

As mentioned previously, we’ve moved away from Trello cards to keep track of the MoodleNet project. The best link to get an overview of all the issues we’re currently working on at the moment can be found at this link or by clicking on the image above.

We’ve also updated the overview slide deck to v0.7, accessible here.

As ever, you can find everything you need relating to MoodleNet at https://moodle.com/moodlenet