Sneak peek of latest MoodleNet UX work

With the continued help of Outlandish, we’ve been working on the first post-Design Sprint UX milestone:

    1. Improve/tweak UI of XD prototype (mobile)
      1. Prototype comments / threaded discussions
      2. Iterate on activity feed prototype
      3. Notifications

We’re not quite ready to release a screencast of the improvements, but you can find a sneak peek below! Note the simplified three-part navigation:

Some comments on the above:

  • A reminder that, unlike Google+, Communities and Collections in MoodleNet are inextricably linked, in that every Collection is owned by a Community.
  • After some research and experimentation, we’ve decided that comments should only go two levels deep.
  • There are three types of update in the Notifications tab: those alerting you to something new happening in your Collections, in your Communities, and recommendations from the ‘Moodle Bot’.

We’ve got a small bit of work to do before moving onto the second UX milestone. That will include tagging and taxonomy as we decided to include notifications in this first milestone. Other things we’ll be working on as part of the second milestone include: search functionality, Moodle Core integration, authentication, adding a resource, and privacy options.

A reminder that, if you’re interested, you can get involved in this project!

Responding to questions from #MootES18

Last week, in Barcelona, Doug Belshaw (MoodleNet Lead) and Mayel de Borniol (MoodleNet Technical Architect) presented at MoodleMoot Spain. It was an interactive session, with participants not only asking questions, but writing down their thoughts on a series of structured post-it notes.

You can see the slides we used below, or by clicking here.

Participants wrote down what they liked about MoodleNet on green post-its, what they had questions about (yellow), and any concerns they had (pink). We’ve transcribed these, and translated those written in Spanish on this wiki page.

Given that we’re still rethinking community calls, we thought that this post could serve to  answer some of the questions from #MootES18. Below are some recurrent themes, and ones that caught our eye.

Post-its from MoodleNet session at #MootES18

First of all, there’s a whole bunch of questions where the answer is effectively ‘yes’. Let’s deal with those first:

Can you share full courses (.mbz files)?

Yes! In fact we’re aiming to use some of the functionality in Moodle so that MoodleNet collections are imported/exported as .mbz files.

How is it shared? Just by exporting the content/course and importing it to yours? Can it be customised, adopted, changed, then?

Yes! So you can take a collection of, say, 10 resources, and choose to use just one or two of them in your course.

The searches are going to be made only in one language or will allow more than one?

Yes! We’ll be allowing searches in multiple languages.

Does it let you know if a group appears according to your interests?

Yes! We’re already doing UX work to show how MoodleNet will recommend communities and collections to users.

Can you subscribe to a topic without a group?

Yes! You can follow a collection that’s curated by a community without following or joining the community itself.

Then there’s other questions that can be answered quickly, for example:

I don’t understand where ‘content’ will be stored? If I want to share a 500mb video where is this held?

MoodleNet will be a place to share links to resources. So, for example, if you see a YouTube video and a resource on an OER repository, you can point to them from a MoodleNet collection. So your 500mb video is best uploaded to a video sharing site and linked to from MoodleNet. We are, however, planning to create a repository for Moodle-specific resources and activities such as quizzes.

Is it mandatory that someone has to add me to a group? Can I create groups? Can I share content that is outside a Moodle course?

We’re going to experiment with different options for this. So, for example, there may be communities that anyone can join without asking, while some are moderated and you have to ask to join. You can create your own community too, and the idea is absolutely that you share content from around the web that can be used in your Moodle course.

Is MoodleNet available for all Moodle versions?

Right now, we’re thinking that we’re probably best off integrating MoodleNet with MoodleCloud for launch. We’ve enough work to do initially without the added complication of supporting different versions of Moodle. After that, we’ll work with Moodle Partners to test MoodleNet in hosted installations, and finally roll out a plugin for any Moodle site.

Will there be any moderation?

Moderation is going to be the responsibility of communities. If a community does a particularly bad job of moderation and doesn’t seem to be responding to the concerns of Moodle users, then Moodle HQ may have to step in. The idea, however, is that issues around spam, ‘fake news’, and link rot is dealt with on a community level.

Is it possible to geolocate educators to facilitate local meetings?

That’s an awesome idea, and something we’d very much like to enable. It depends on a few things, including getting past the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) stage for initial launch, getting people’s location in a GDPR-compliant way, and building an interface where people can find each other easily. An added complication is that we’re purposely not building a private messaging feature in the MVP, and you’d probably want some location data not to be public knowledge.

Finally, there are some questions that require a lengthier response, such as:

Will there be some form of translation? Collaborative or automatic?

This is something that we need to work on. Translation in Moodle Core is a community effort, as it is for a lot of open source projects. While we could do automatic machine translation of resources, it’s arguable as to whether that would be worthwhile. After all, if an educator doesn’t speak the language used by a community, what use are the resources and collections likely to be? It’s an area where we’re open to ideas, particularly if people have examples they’d like to share.

What kind of resources I can publish? A course? A section? A resource? What’s going be the license?

All of the above! MoodleNet will be content-agnostic, so you can share pretty much anything you like. We can imagine, further down the line, for example, people sharing collections of Moodle plugins they find useful. In terms of the licensing, it’s important to remember that, initially, MoodleNet will be collections of links to resources. So the copyright information depends on whatever license the original uploader decided to use.

What is the model of economic sustainability of this platform? Answered, but is real?

This is an open question, but we have lots of options, which is good. Our main revenue, over and above the investment Moodle HQ received at the end of the year, comes through Moodle Partners. So we want to ensure that MoodleNet provides value to them. There’s also integration with MoodleCloud, which we could do at the paid level, for example, as well as featured collections, and other options that we’re still investigating.

Will MoodleNet include a market place? Like for hiring developers and consultants.

I wouldn’t say that this is going to happen any time soon, but it’s a good idea and one that I know Martin Dougiamas has talked about in passing. Our first goal is to get the resource-sharing social media element of MoodleNet up-and-running, providing value to the community and to Moodle Partners, before we build out any additional functionality. I think a markeplace would probably be focused on community members crowdfunding projects that they’d like to bring into existence. Developer and consultants could absolutely be part of that process.

What will happen to existing shared resources on

We haven’t finalised plans for sunsetting the existing site, but we’re not getting rid of anything! The likelihood is that all content previously shared will be archived and available to be referenced in the new MoodleNet platform. It’s important to remember that MoodleNet is content-agnostic, so you could have a collection of courses, for example.

So, there we go! Have you got any questions for the MoodleNet team? We’d be happy to answer them in the comments section below.

Thanks to Txell Llorach for allowing us to use a photo she posted to Twitter during the event!

Principles underpinning the MoodleNet project

MoodleNet principles

Bryan Mathers has put together the above images to represent the six principles underpinning the MoodleNet project. We’ve gone back and added these fantastic illustrations to the previous posts we’ve published on each of these principles:

  1. Open
  2. Safe
  3. Private
  4. Ethical
  5. Transparent
  6. Connecte​d

This week, we’re in Barcelona for MoodleMoot Spain, where we’ll be using these images as part of presentation which we will share next week!

System architecture options for MoodleNet

CC BY Rob Oo

Building on the success of the design sprint last month, the MoodleNet team has started laying down some milestones for the project. One of the first is to define the system architecture, upon which Mayel de Borniol (Technical Architect) has begun work, with input from Doug Belshaw.

We’ve defined three approaches to building MoodleNet, from a fully-federated architecture through to a centralised SaaS architecture:

(Note: right-click on images and select ‘open link in new tab’ to see detail)

Our current preference is for an approach which takes some of the benefits of both, which is a Core API-as-a-service architecture. The extract below from a overview document we’re putting together, with terms in bold defined in the glossary at the end of that document:

In this scenario, Moodle HQ runs a single core MoodleNet API-as-a-service serving as a central index of information across the network. This enables consistent discovery and search experiences across all MoodleNet instances (including the one provided by Moodle HQ).

Each MoodleNet instance stores the full data of local users, communities, and collections (including personal information, private messages, and public comments/discussions).

The database of the core MoodleNet API service contains lists of all public communities, collections, resources, and users across the network, along with a copy of some metadata. A search index also sits behind the API to enable fast and accurate search results. Each item always refers back to the originating MoodleNet instance for the full data (e.g. membership, permissions, comments/discussions).

In practice, this means that the MoodleNet network, while federated, is reliant upon the MoodleNet core API service for search and discovery. This provides users with a better and more consistent experience, reducing fragmentation and spreading the shared content more widely, and also gives Moodle HQ more control over the overall network.

Another core API service, the Moodle resources repository, also provides hosting for Moodle course content that users share on MoodleNet. This could later be facilitated with P2P file sharing protocols like IPFS.

This network can also be based on existing protocols and standards to form a decentralised collection of nodes that send, receive, and store data. The data handling module can be based on an extended ActivityStreams data format and at least some of the APIs on the ActivityPub protocol to ensure compatibility between systems.

We invite comments from the community, after which we will update the overview document and move it to the project wiki. You are welcome to give your feedback here in the comments section or in the discussion forum.

Header image by Rob Oo used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license

Recording of June 2018 MoodleNet community call now available!

Dip your toe into the MoodleNet project

Many thanks to those who joined us for this month’s MoodleNet community call!

Doug introduced Mayel de Borniol, the project’s new Technical Architect, we reviewed the prototype overview, and discussed future plans.

This time slot (16:00 UTC) seems to suit the majority of people more than the 08:00 UTC slot, so we’ll be reviewing the times we meet for future calls.

The agenda and notes can be found here. The video and audio recording, along with a backup of the agenda, and visual notes from Bryan Mathers, can be found at

Update: further to a discussion with Moodle’s DPO & Legal Advisor, we have removed the agenda and recording of previous community calls. We are now in the process of creating a GDPR-compliant workflow.

Prize winners for the MoodleNet pre-design sprint survey announced!


Prior to our recent design sprint, we ran a survey at which was completed by 175 Moodlers. The results were fascinating, and fed directly into the prototype overview we were able to create during the week.

To incentive participation in the survey, we offered prizes in the form of Amazon vouchers and Zazzle credit for the Moodle HQ store. Those completing the survey had the option to add their email address if they wanted to be considered for the prize.

We’ve been in touch with the lucky winners, who gave their consent to be listed below:

  • Joe Wieland (USA, £50 Amazon voucher)
  • Pete Jones (New Zealand, £50 Amazon voucher)
  • Joelle Le (Australia, $25 Zazzle credit)
  • David Morrow (USA, $25 Zazzle credit)

Thanks to Claudia Dent, Moodle’s Marketing Co-ordinator for selecting the recipients using a random generator!

MoodleNet project community call (June 2018)


This Wednesday, we’re hosting our MoodleNet project community call for May. We’ve got some updates to share from our recent design sprint!

The call will begin with Doug introducing Mayel, our new technical Technical Architect, along with a round of introductions to those on the call. We’ll then dive into the outputs from the MoodleNet design sprint, and discuss the prototype overview we came up with. From there, the discussion will open out to cover next steps, including how best to contribute to this project.

We’re alternating the times of each monthly call, so apologies to those who live in timezones that make it difficult to join this time around. We record each one, and you’re welcome to add your thoughts to the etherpad-based agenda asynchronously.

Image by Dafne Cholet used under a Creative Commons license

A warm welcome to Mayel de Borniol, our new MoodleNet Technical Architect!

Mayel de Borniol

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed a mention of Mayel de Borniol, our new MoodleNet Technical Architect in our previous post about last week’s Design Sprint. After receiving over 70 applications for the role from all over the world, we interviewed candidates from Europe, Africa, North America, and South America.

We couldn’t be happier to welcome someone with Mayel’s knowledge, skills, and understanding of open source. Originally hailing from the Basque Country (north of the Pyrenees mountains), he currently lives in Athens, Greece.

Mayel describes himself a hacker and social/cooperative entrepreneur who enjoys understanding and hacking systems, and occasionally designing and building new ones – such as MoodleNet!

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

Check out my site to see what I’ve been up to:

What are your interests outside of work?

Nomadic / slow travel, Sci-Fi & Solarpunk, Decentralised & Federated systems, Free Software / Open Source, Co-operative organisation & production (would love to be part of a beer brewing or winemaking co-op!), my cat and dog!

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

Greece (Athens and its crazy graffiti and rebellious vibe and also the islands where time stands still) closely followed by Buenos Aires and its 1am BBQ dinner parties.

Mayel will be working closely with Doug Belshaw, MoodleNet Lead to turn the prototype we came up with last week into reality!

MoodleNet design sprint: prototype overview

MoodleNet design sprint

This week has been a design sprint for the MoodleNet project, held at the offices of Outlandish. Martin Dougiamas, Moodle’s Founder and CEO, flew in from Australia to join Doug Belshaw (MoodleNet Lead), Mayel de Borniol (MoodleNet Technical Architect), Bryan Mathers (consultant), and the Outlandish team.

Martin had clearly stated success criteria: “A visual prototype that is good enough for anyone to quickly understand what MoodleNet does and how it could look and feel.”

We’re delighted, therefore, to be able to demonstrate the above prototype, which we tested with users on Thursday and iterated on Friday. We’ll be collating everything, including photographs and notes over the coming week!