Principles underpinning Project MoodleNet: 1. ‘Open’

Open (CC BY-ND Bryan Mathers)

The principles underpinning Project MoodleNet are:

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

But what do these mean in practice? In this first of a series of posts, we explore what ‘openness’ means as regards this project.

1. What ‘Open’ means in practice

There are many meanings of ‘open’. In fact, as the authors of a seminal article from 2016 entitled Fifty shades of open found, their witty title is almost true!

“Open” has been applied to a wide variety of words to create new terms, some of which make sense, and some not so much. When we started writing this essay, we thought our working title was simply amusing. But the working title became the actual title, as we found that there are at least 50 different terms in which the word “open” is used, encompassing nearly as many different criteria for openness.

The authors outline the following elements of openness:

  • Open means rights
  • Open means access
  • Open means use
  • Open means transparent
  • Open means participatory
  • Open means enabling openness
  • Open means philosophically aligned with open principles

One way to sum up all of this is to describe open as an attitude. As Clint Lalonde puts it:

Open is a  willingness to share, not only resources, but processes, ideas, thoughts, ways of thinking and operating. Open means working in spaces and places that are transparent and allow others to see what you are doing and how you are doing it, giving rise to opportunities for people who could help you to connect with you, jump in and offer that help. And where you can reciprocate and do the same.

We will discuss ‘transparency’ in a later post, but as Laura Hilliger notes, open is more than just providing people with tools:

Open is an attitude, not a set of processes and procedures. Holding on to it despite potential repercussions is an act of courage because most people hold on to the cultural and social norms they’re used to.

Moodle is an open source organisation that publishes code under the GPL, accessible on the open web via GitHub. Issues can be tracked, added, and commented upon via Moodle’s tracking system based on JIRA. Ideas for the development of new features come from Moodle’s partners, via the community forums, and from interacting with participants at regular MoodleMoots around the world.

By committing to openness with Project MoodleNet, we seek to build upon the ways of working that have helped Moodle’s learning platform become the world’s most popular. Our community and commitment to open source principles provide a competitive advantage in a world where others look to monetise user data at every opportunity.

Moodle exists to empower educators to improve our world. A key part of that is our open attitude, which we see as a magnet to attract educators who also believe that, together, we can build a better future. Project MoodleNet will allow educators to discuss, share, and work together to make that come true.

Image by Bryan Mathers used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license