Late August 2019 update

MoodleNet UI 2.0 — a work in progress
MoodleNet UI 2.0 — a work in progress

Work on MoodleNet continues apace, with the above screenshot no longer being a clickable prototype, but live code on our staging server! Ivan, our talented UX designer and front-end developer, has created a ‘read-only’ version of the new user interface before he heads off on a well-deserved holiday for a couple of weeks.

During that period, James will be finishing off a very necessary refactoring of the core functionality on backend code, Karen is continuing making good progress on federation, and Mayel has submitted a plugin to the Moodle LMS team for their review and (possible) integration into Moodle 3.8.

We’re still on track for a November beta release with everything from the ‘must’ section of our MoSCoW prioritisation grid. However, we’ve had to push back the federation testing until October as we’re a small team working on a complex project, and many things have to come together at the same time!

Thank you to those who have commented (only privately, so far) on our draft MoodleNet User Agreement and Covenant for Instance Administrators. Please do consider giving your feedback — positive or negative!

*DRAFT* MoodleNet User Agreement and Covenant for Instance Administrators

Happy Birthday Moodle! 🎉🎉🎉

As promised in our post about the upcoming federation testing programme, we are now ready to share draft versions of two relevant documents.

While anyone is free to use MoodleNet for any purpose (Freedom 0 of the ‘Four Freedoms‘), in order to connect to the HQ ‘mothership’ for reasons of search and discovery, instance administrators must:

  • Either use the MoodleNet User Agreement as-is, or only add reasonable terms that do not negate any element of the existing agreement.
  • Agree to be bound by the terms of the MoodleNet Covenant for Instance Administrators.

The first is a MoodleNet User Agreement, which includes six sections:

  1. Terms
  2. Code of Conduct
  3. Contribution, Use, Modification and Distribution Licenses
  4. Disclaimers
  5. Modifications
  6. Instance Rules

The second is a MoodleNet Covenant for Instance Administrators, which also has six points. Those admins running a MoodleNet instance who want to connect to the ‘mothership’ (for search and discoverability) must agree to:

  1. Foster an open and welcoming environment.
  2. Actively moderate their instance
  3. Perform daily backups
  4. Give emergency access to the server infrastructure to at least two people
  5. Give users at least 3 months of advance warning in case of shutting down
  6. Make available the source code of any customisations to your instance, regardless how small

To be as clear and direct as possible, the MoodleNet team is committed to fostering an open and welcoming environment, meaning that racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, harassment, defamation, doxxing, sexual depictions of children, and conduct promoting alt-right and fascist ideologies will not be tolerated.

We welcome the community’s feedback on these drafts, either as comments directly on the documents, in comments below this post, or on the MoodleNet forum. If you have particular concerns or comments that you like to make more privately, please email: moodlenet-moderators@moodle.com

Planning for the MoodleNet public beta

In the spirit of working openly, we’d like to share a MoSCoW prioritisation grid for the public beta release of MoodleNet in November 2019. While any project is subject to changing priorities as it progresses, this is where we are in early August.

For those that prefer a more accessible text-based version, please see below.


MUST

Instances:

  • Federation with other instances
  • Connect to HQ ‘mothership’
  • Search across federated instances
  • Discover page
  • My MoodleNet
  • Profiles
  • Flags/reporting
  • Moderation tools
  • Sign-up page (username/password)
  • Open to browse without signing in

Communities:

  • Image upload
  • Join/create/edit/leave a community
  • Every @community is hyperlinked

Collections:

  • Category tags
  • Create/edit a collection
  • Every +mention is hyperlinked

Resources:

  • Like resources
  • Add resource via URL
  • Add hashtags to added resources

Profiles:

  • Bio & links
  • Avatar
  • Header image
  • User timeline
  • Joined communities
  • Followed collections
  • Liked resources

Users:

  • Every @username is hyperlinked
  • Unique usernames

Moodle Core integration:

  • Plugin to pull resources from MoodleNet

Misc.

  • Basic security audit

SHOULD

Instances:

  • Help pages
  • Interoperability with other ActivityPub apps
  • Blocklists

Communities:

  • Share link to community 

Collections:

  • Hashtags 
  • Pinned resources
  • Share link to collection

Resources:

  • Upload resources
  • Add licence to uploaded resources

Profiles:

  • Follow other users

Users:

  • Notifications if mentioned within a community
  • Receive weekly emails about recent activity

COULD

Instances:

  • Analytics
  • Sign-up page (social accounts)

Communities:

  • Related communities

Collections:

  • Related collections
  • Sort/filter listed resources

Resources:

  • Auto-complete hashtags

Profiles:

  • Add other users to a contact list
  • Invite other people to create a MoodleNet profile
  • Add interests (based on hashtags)

Users:

  • Sort/filter ‘My MoodleNet’

Misc.

  • In-depth security audit

WON’T

  • Private communities / collections
  • Request a resource
  • Copy/fork a collection into another community
  • Events functionality
  • Emoji ID
  • Open Badges on profiles
  • Query 3rd-party repositories

MoodleNet overview slide deck (July 2019)

Update: we recorded a 13-min screencast version of the slide deck below!


We regularly update the slide deck used to give an overview of MoodleNet. It not only helps us continue to (hopefully!) get better at explaining what MoodleNet is, but is a useful resource for community members who may want to introduce it to others.

Access the slides directly here: http://bit.ly/2OkahJN

What we’ve changed this time around:

  • Removed ‘non-technical’ from the title
  • Replaced references to ‘decentralisation’ with ‘federation’
  • Updated the slide referencing Mastodon with a similar MoodleNet-focused one (see below!)
  • Added slides showing the UI 2.0 clickable prototype
  • Replaced the slide referencing Aha! with one showing Moodle Tracker
It doesn't matter which MoodleNet instance you are a member of - you can join communities, and follow other people and collections fro any other instance!
New MoodleNet federation overview slide

Comments? Questions? Add them below!

An update on sunsetting the existing moodle.net to make way for MoodleNet

As part of the preparations for a new MoodleNet plugin coming in Moodle 3.8, the current sharing site, moodle.net will be closed and its content archived. This means that from August 2019, it will no longer be possible to share courses on moodle.net.

To see what this means for teachers, and to find out what you need to do as an administrator, please see our guide: Sunsetting moodle.net.

If you have any questions about the current moodle.net site being closed, please post in the Moodle community sites forum.

Request for feedback: MoodleNet UI 2.0 clickable prototype

We'd like you to create a screencast showing your first reactions to the clickable prototype of our new UI.

Overview

Last month, we gave you a sneak peek of the prototype we’ve been working on for an updated version of the MoodleNet user interface. After further iteration and testing, the team is pleased to share with the community a clickable prototype, upon which we would like your feedback.

Note: a clickable prototype is a series of images with ‘hotspots’ that link them together. Not everything that will be linked in the final version is linked in this prototype. Nevertheless, before committing code, this is a good way of ensuring that this approach resonates with the community.

When we shared the MVP of MoodleNet back in January, Stephen Downes was kind enough to record his first impressions. The team found that kind of feedback so valuable that we’d like to encourage as many people as possible to do likewise this time around! We’re going to offer another rare badge to those who share their thoughts.

How to get involved

  1. Install an app or browser extension that allows you to record your screen. We recommend Loom. Ensure you have the microphone activated!
  2. Start recording and head to this URL: https://invis.io/PQT1DYDMNDH#/374475280_Login
  3. Click through the prototype, narrating what you are doing. We’re interested in:
    • Green — things you like
    • Amber — stuff you have questions about
    • Red — anything that concerns or confuses you
  4. Stop recording and give your screencast the title ‘MoodleNet clickable prototype testing [your_name]’
  5. Share the link to the screencast with the MoodleNet team. You have several options for this:

Final thoughts

Please ask if you have any questions or the above instructions are not clear. Note that you can only receive the badge if you have created the screencast and have joined the MoodleNet forum.

Thanks in advance for your help!

MoodleNet Federation Testing Programme

UPDATE: Form is now fixed!

'Network' by John LeMasney used under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA license

Overview

We’re looking for volunteers (individuals/organisations) for a federation testing programme we’re running next month. There’s a pretty tight turnaround, so initially we’ll require all communication to be in English, although you’re welcome to set up your test instance in another language.

It’s important to note that this is NOT simply a way to be notified of updates to MoodleNet. It is an expression of interest to run a server requiring both technical knowledge and a time commitment. There will be another rare badge available for those who participate in the programme!

What is ‘federation’?

The easiest way to explain federation is to think about email. Anyone can create their own email address via any provider they choose, and they can use any email software they choose. As the whole system is standards-based, anyone can send an email to anyone else knowing that it will ‘just work’. You only need to know their email address, something like name@emailprovider.com.

If we extend that idea to social networks, so long as a social network adheres to a particular standard, then anyone can send a message or other content to anyone else knowing that it will ‘just work’. In our case with MoodleNet, the standard is ActivityPub, which is already used by social networks such as Mastodon, Peertube, and Pixelfed

To begin with, we are interested in federation between servers running MoodleNet. Thanks to ActivityPub, users will be able to join communities, follow collections, and interact with other users, no matter where they created their account. And then, in addition, users of other ActivityPub-compatible social networks (‘the Fediverse’) will be able to follow and interact with MoodleNet users, and vice versa. 

API federated
Image CC BY-ND Bryan Mathers

Why do we need a testing programme?

The aim of the MoodleNet Federation Testing Programme is to test all aspects of federation, both between MoodleNet instances and the wider Fediverse. The programme will be successful if it:

  1. Validates the statements we have made about data processing in MoodleNet’s DPIA
  2. Demonstrates that users on any MoodleNet instance may follow, join, and interact with communities and collections on any other MoodleNet instance. 
  3. Confirms the value proposition of organisations running their own MoodleNet instances
  4. Establishes that search and discovery is possible across MoodleNet instances connected to the Moodle HQ API-as-a-service (‘mothership’)
  5. Shows that Fediverse accounts can follow and interact with MoodleNet users.

We envisage that the testing programme will cover three areas:

  • Interaction between MoodleNet instances
    • Join communities, and follow users and collections
    • Add resources to MoodleNet collections
    • Discuss, comment, like, and flag content
  • Search and discovery 
    • Find MoodleNet users, collections, and communities
    • Locate MoodleNet resources with a specific tag
    • Browse fresh content from across all mothership-connected instances
  • Integration with the wider Fediverse
    • Follow Fediverse users from MoodleNet
    • Display Fediverse status updates which @mention MoodleNet users or communities
    • Interact with Fediverse users (e.g. reply to an @mention)

Who should be involved in the programme?

We’re looking for individuals and organisations with both the time and technical knowledge to be able to test MoodleNet effectively. This includes moderating communities, updating their instance to the latest version, and providing regular feedback to the MoodleNet team.

Ideally, we would have a combination of Moodle Partners, educational institutions, organisations, and interested individuals who:

  • Will accept the MoodleNet federation testing programme agreement (forthcoming)
  • Have a working knowledge of Linux server administration with Docker containers (MoodleNet’s stack includes Elixir, PostgreSQL, and React)
  • Can dedicate around 3-5 hours per week to testing MoodleNet over the testing period

When will the programme start?

Servers connecting together in a hashtag pattern
Image CC BY-ND Bryan Mathers

We will begin the testing programme when MoodleNet federation is ready to test. This should be before the end of August 2019, although it also depends on the corresponding user interface work being completed by that time. 

How do interested parties apply?

Please use the following form to express an interest in the federation testing programme. Note that not all applications will be successful, as we are looking for a range and spread of use cases.

We are currently finalising the User Agreement and MoodleNet Covenant for Instance Administrators and will share these with successful applicants, as well as in a blog post.


Header image: Network by John LeMasney used under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA license

MoodleNet and Free Cultural Works

MoodleNet is a new open social media platform for educators, focused on professional development and open content.

To facilitate the ‘open content’ part of MoodleNet’s mission, we propose that users sharing content via upload may choose from three open licenses, all provided by Creative Commons:

These are Free Culture licenses, defined in the following way: 

  1. the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it
  2. the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
  3. the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
  4. the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works

There is more detail about this on the Creative Commons website, which goes into much more detail about Free Cultural Works.

By taking this approach to uploading content to MoodleNet we would be following the lead of Wikimedia Commons, who have a comprehensive page on what is and what is not allowed on their platform. We believe that we can take a simpler approach with MoodleNet, with the added advantage that Creative Commons licences are already translated into most major languages.

Here is a (low-fidelity) wireframe example workflow for a user uploading a resource to MoodleNet:

User chooses the option to upload a resource to a collection
User chooses the option to upload a resource to a collection
User enters title, description, and hashtags
User enters title, description, and hashtags
User can change license from collection default
User can change license from collection default

What do you think of this approach? Is this what you were expecting? What else would you like to see (if anything)?

MoodleNet v0.9.4 alpha update

Today, the team is pleased to have released MoodleNet v0.9.4 alpha.

Functionality added:

  • Create a unique @username
  • Update profile header image (via URL)
  • Reset password (via email)

Karen and James, our new backend developers, are now up-to-speed with MoodleNet. Ivan, our UX designer and front-end developer, has been working on a new approach to MoodleNet’s user interface to make it much more conversational.

Mayel has been working on Moodle Core plugins and exploring fork/remix/share functionality. We’re looking forward to sharing more details about all these things soon!

Sneak peek of MoodleNet UI v2.0

Ivan Minutillo, our talented UX designer and front-end developer, has been working on a more ‘conversational’ user interface for MoodleNet.

Right now, it exists as a series of page mockups. We’re looking for feedback on what he’s produced so far to inform the future direction of MoodleNet’s user interface.

Check out the video above, and leave us some feedback:

  • Green — what do you like?
  • Yellow — what do you have questions about?
  • Red — what are you concerned about?

Thanks in advance! You can add your comments below.