Get involved in MoodleNet: our next-generation project!

MoodleNet ecosystem

At Moodle HQ we’re always looking to the future, and so are excited to share news of Project MoodleNet. This post points to new functionality and features that we aim to launch in 2018.

Project MoodleNet is one of the key projects that our Founder and CEO, Martin Dougiamas, has mentioned in his “empowering educators” presentations across various MoodleMoots around the world this year.

So what is Project MoodleNet? How will it empower educators to improve our world? Well that’s where you, Moodlers, can play an important part in working with us together to define and shape this project.

MoodleNet core features

Here are some of the basic foundations of the project:

  1. MoodleNet will be built in parallel to Moodle core, providing what Martin has described as “a new open social media platform for educators, focussed on professional development and open content”.
  2. This project is accelerated  thanks to the investment partnership with Education for The Many that we announced in September.
  3. MoodleNet will be developed with significant input from existing and new members of the Moodle community.

The first step in the process will be co-ordinated by Doug Belshaw, our new MoodleNet Lead, who brings a wealth of experience from many different sectors of education. In collaboration with the Moodle community, Doug has set himself the task of writing a white paper to flesh out the vision for MoodleNet and ensure that it meets the needs of new and existing Moodlers.

So, on that note, Moodlers: We need your help!

Moodle is the world’s most popular learning platform because of contributors like you. We want to ensure your voice is heard as part of this process. Get involved in helping define the user stories which form a key part of the white paper.

To keep up-to-date with the project and get involved at various stages, be sure to bookmark the canonical URL for this project: https://moodle.com/moodlenet

Doug and the Project MoodleNet team are looking forward to hearing and working with you soon! Thanks in advance Moodlers for helping us get our new and exciting project off the ground.

Anticipated questions

We’ve already fielded some questions from the community, so here’s some answers to both the questions they asked and questions we anticipate the community will be keen to have answered.

1. Doug, can you provide a bit of background about yourself and how you are connected to Moodle prior to taking on this lead?

Certainly! I describe myself as an ‘Open Educational Thinkerer’, having worked in many different sectors of education. I was a teacher and senior leader in UK schools. After that, I worked in Higher Education for Jisc, a national technology project where I focused on digital literacies (the subject of my doctoral thesis), mobile learning, and Open Educational Resources. More recently, I worked for Mozilla (best known for the Firefox web browser) as their Badges & Skills Lead, and subsequently Web Literacy Lead. I’ve been consulting for the last couple of years with all different kinds of organisations, including those in the vocational learning space.

I was a Moodle user during my time working in schools, and in fact know Mary Cooch (Moodle Community Educator) from that time. She’s been helping me get up-to-speed with some of the more recent features of Moodle! I’m committed to open source, both in terms of code and culture and, in fact, helped found a co-operative that helps spread the culture, processes, and benefits of ‘open’.

I’ve a lot to learn from the Moodle community, and am looking forward to beginning that journey with Project MoodleNet!

2. Why is Project MoodleNet important for educators and all Moodle users?

Project MoodleNet will connect and bring together educators worldwide, to facilitate sharing of this knowledge and expertise. Right now, educators are forced to use proprietary platforms from huge multi-national companies who profit from the extraction and sale of personal data to advertisers.

As part of Moodle’s mission to empower educators, we want to build a new open social media platform for educators, which is focussed on professional development and open content. We will be building this with and for educators, adding features and functionality that enhance learning and teaching.

3. What will Project MoodleNet actually deliver?

The project will evolve around the needs of users, but we envisage it including elements of:

  • Crowdfunding
  • Federated identity provider
  • Learning Object Repository (e.g. OER Commons)
  • Messaging
  • News feed
  • Reputation (Badges 2.0)

Equally important is the way we plan to build it, with the key words here being open, safe, private, ethical, transparent, and connected. Expect to be able to connect with users of all different stripes – including new and existing affinity groups!

4. Will this replace the existing Moodle learning platform?

We have no plans to do that at the current time. The aim of Project MoodleNet is to provide additional functionality without impacting on Moodle core. One way to think about MoodleNet might be as a ‘layer’ that connects together people, resources, and ideas. In that sense, we are seeking to augment and enhance the existing Moodle learning platform rather than replicating or replacing features.

5. What’s happening to the existing moodle.net site?

We are looking to add functionality, rather than take it away, so the ability to share courses and resources will be an important part of Project MoodleNet. The exact form this will take will depend on technical decisions we take over the coming months, but in the meantime you can keep on sharing your courses via moodle.net!

6. What’s the best way for community members to get involved?

The best place to start is by reviewing the existing plans and then introducing yourself on the MoodleNet forum. No matter what your level of experience with Moodle, there is a role for you in Project MoodleNet. Whether you have 10 minutes or several hours to spare, we want to hear from you!

The first job is the writing of a white paper that helps set the direction for technical design and development in early 2018. We need community input for this to ensure that we’re correctly identifying problems, frustrations, and issues that various groups of Moodlers experience on a regular basis.

7. Isn’t developing this in the open a bit of a risk? Won’t competitors steal your ideas?

Moodle is playing a different ‘game’ to other organisations in the same space who are beholden to shareholders simply looking to make a profit. Our aim is to empower educators, and we do that by developing free and open source software. Working openly is in our DNA and, as it’s worked well for us and similar organisations so far, we plan to continue doing so.

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