The principles underpinning Project MoodleNet are:
But what do these mean in practice? In this sixth (and final) in a series of posts, we explore what ‘connected’ means as regards this project.
Project MoodleNet is described by Martin Dougiamas, CEO of Moodle as, “a new open social media platform for educators, focused on professional development and open content”. Therefore, when we talk about one of the principles underpinning the project being ‘connected’ it is obvious that we are connecting people with people. We have grown used to these platforms over the last decade, discussing a whole range of things on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
What is different about Project MoodleNet is that it will have an explicit focus on educators, connecting them together to share openly-licensed resources and provide professional development. We will design the system to respond to their needs, ensuring that they are not limited by the constraints of more generic social networks, and can help shape its future direction.
When we connect with other people, we are connecting as something or someone: perhaps a daughter, a husband, or a teacher. In the Project MoodleNet white paper we explore the ways in which identity plays an important role online as well as offline, so we want to ensure that when an educator uses Project MoodleNet, they have a choice of how to portray themselves. We will experiment with a number of ways of doing this.
In addition to connecting people to people, Project MoodleNet will also connect people with resources, news, and members of our partner network. We will provide a lightweight, contextually-focused dashboard which can be curated by users to provide, amongst other things:
- Up-to-date information about openly-licensed content they may be interested in
- Questions from the community that they may be able to answer (and answers in which they may be interested)
- News from accounts they have chosen to follow
In an age of algorithmic curation and fake news, we want to empower educators to quickly and easily ‘tune their feeds’ in ways that help them teach and help others learn.
Project MoodleNet will be API-based. In layperson’s terms that means ‘Application Programming Interface’ and is a “set of subroutine definitions, protocols, and tools for building application software” (Wikipedia). They are a powerful way of building applications and services:
“On the Web, APIs make it possible for big services like Google Maps or Facebook to let other apps “piggyback” on their offerings. Think about the way Yelp, for instance, displays nearby restaurants on a Google Map in its app, or the way some video games now let players chat, post high scores and invite friends to play via Facebook, right there in the middle of a game.
APIs simplify [things] by limiting outside program access to a specific set of features—often enough, requests for data of one sort or another. Feel free to think of them as doors, windows or levers if you like. Whatever the metaphor, APIs clearly define exactly how a program will interact with the rest of the software world—saving time, resources and potentially nasty legal entanglements along the way.” (ReadWrite)
It will be simple and straightforward for users to both put information into Project MoodleNet, and to get it out. We will be building upon open standards and protocols, and using well-documented APIs to make this seamless. Moving between different elements of Project MoodleNet, for example search, user profiles, the OER repository, help forum, and crowdfunding area, will be seamless due to the APIs we both use and write.
Moodle’s learning platform uses APIs provided by Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive so that users can bring in files they have stored on those services. In turn, Moodle provides a number of APIs meaning that there are thousands of plugins available to extend the learning platform’s core functionality. Well-documented, open APIs encourage greater connection between people, resources, and other web services, so Project MoodleNet will build upon these.
By connecting users with other users, by connecting them with openly-licensed content, and by leveraging the power of APIs, Project MoodleNet will, we believe, empower educators to improve our world.