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.

MoodleNet non-technical overview (June 2019)

We’ve updated the iterative slide deck that we use to give a non-technical overview of MoodleNet. It should be embedded above. Alternatively, you can access it via our wiki or directly at http://bit.ly/2I5Eebg

Community members have told us that they find this approach useful for a number of reasons, including seeing how the project is progressing, and being able to explain MoodleNet to others. You are, of course, very welcome to use the slides for this purpose. Please let us know if you do so!

We’d like to call your attention to the two slides below in particular. Are they useful? Do they help explain MoodleNet concisely? How would you change them?

Thanks in advance for your feedback, which you can leave in the comments section below!

Community consultation on MoodleNet’s Data Protection Impact Assessment

GDPR image

Over the last few months, the MoodleNet team has been working with Moodle’s Privacy Officer and Data Protection counsel on a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA).

We are pleased to now be able to share the first version of this living document for community feedback: https://docs.moodle.org/dev/MoodleNet/DPIA

This is meant to be a user-focused document that explains in clear language what data we are collecting and how it will be processed. You may find it particularly interesting if you are interested in how we are planning for MoodleNet to work technically!

If you have comments or questions on this version of the DPIA, you may add them underneath this blog post. Alternatively, please follow the suggestions in the ‘Consultation process’ section towards the bottom of the document.

Sunsetting moodle.net

Now that we’ve proved the value proposition of the new MoodleNet service, we’re planning to ‘sunset’ (i.e. gracefully retire) the existing moodle.net service. The date we have in mind is in time for the inaugural Global MoodleMoot in November 2019.

This will take time and effort, as there are many services and subdomains related to moodle.net. You can track the progress of this project in its own right at the following Moodle Tracker epic: MDLSITE-5854. We welcome community input and suggestions, so please do comment on issues linked from that epic!

Welcome Karen and James, new MoodleNet backend developers!

The MoodleNet team is delighted to welcome Karen Kleinbauerů and James Laver who will both be working on backend development. Karen’s based in the Czech Republic, and James lives in The Netherlands. They’ll both be working 2.5 days on MoodleNet!

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

Karen: I have previously contributed to Pleroma, an ActivityPub server that MoodleNet is loosely based on. In fact it was my presence on the Fediverse that has got me interested in programming and my love for the project that has made me contribute to it. Doing so has given me knowledge in ActivityPub, Elixir/Phoenix and the general struggles of hosting an AP server, both from a technical perspective and a community management perspective (Both are equally important!).

I’m also studying Japanese at a Prague university. I consider myself relatively proficient at the language and I’ve done volunteer translation work in the past.

James: I’ve consulted with a variety of companies, big and small to build (sometimes) cool and (often) interesting things. I’ve done a lot of things – everything from a CMS for a small artisan burger chain to a distributed backend control plane for an investment bank. As much as working on interesting projects, I like to work with interesting people, so I have a lot of stories from the code mines 😉

What do you love about what you do?

Karen: First of all, I simply enjoy programming. The combination of problem solving and creating things just scratches an itch that nothing else really does. Additionally, I’m excited to contribute to the ActivityPub network because I’m a passionate member of it and want to expose more people to it. Decentralised networks harbour unique communities that wouldn’t be able to exist in big, corporation ran silos.

James: I love solving interesting problems. In “the mythical man month”, there’s some lovely phrasing about “building castles of pure thought”. A lake of problems, limited only by my imagination. Cool!

What are your interests outside of work?

Karen: I’m your (maybe not so) typical nerd who enjoys video games, coffee, manga, music and such. I collect retro video games and consoles and also enjoy speedrunning my favorite titles.

I also have a deep appreciation for nature and enjoy taking strolls through forests, valleys and mountains. Tied to that is my interest with spirituality and animist religions, particularly Shinto.

James: I’m a keen cyclist, enthusiastic cook, eager video gamer and drinker of copious quantities of coffee. I listen to music, watch box sets of old TV and lose an afternoon at a time to wikipedia after I’ve made plans to go out.

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

Karen: This is a bit of a cheat answer as it’s a place which i haven’t visited yet, but I would love to visit the island of Tashirojima in Japan. It’s notable for its significant feline population, which outnumbers the human population 6 to 1. And I don’t know about you, but being smothered with cats sounds pretty wonderful to me!

James: My bed. I was once told that when you’re not in bed, you’re in
your shoes, so you should buy a comfy bed and comfy shoes.

Thanks Alex!

Alex working from a co-working space in Andorra, after moving from Barcelona earlier this year

Alex Castaño, MoodleNet’s first backend developer, is moving on this week. We wanted to take the opportunity to thank Alex, and reflect on what he and the team have achieved since last September.

Some members of the community might not understand the role of a backend developer. Could you explain what your role at Moodle has been over the last eight months?

The main task of a backend developer is to create the business logic of the application. He also stores the data maintaining its integrity at all times. And last, but not least, he ensures the data is delivered correctly and safely to the rest of the systems.

So my work at Moodle has been basically to discover the needs and the goals of the project, to create a computer system to simulate it and to develop a protocol to get the stored information to be presented in the form of a web page.

What would you pick out as some of your highlights of working as part of the MoodleNet team?

I particularly enjoyed the creation of a generic library for ActivityPub. It was a big challenge, and although it’s not 100% finished, I think it’s a very interesting project.

Creating a GraphQL API has been another big challenge for me. I only knew the technology of having read about it, but had never put it into practice. I was able to learn first-hand about its advantages, but also its drawbacks.

Another interesting part of the project has been the research of the different technologies available and how they could be integrated into MoodleNet. This also includes the study of different free software and how they solve the different problems you face. It is an enriching process and you learn a lot from the experience of other developers. It’s the great advantage of free software, and I hope that other developers will find inspiration in my work to achieve their goals.

As you move onto a new opportunity, how can people follow your work and keep in touch?

I don’t write as much as I’d like, but in my blog (https://alexcastano.com) you can follow my next steps and you can  also find my contact details.

Thank you very much for everything


MoodleNet v0.9.3 alpha update

The MoodleNet team is pleased to announce the release of v0.9.3 alpha. It’s also World Turtle Day!

Functionality added

  • Users can enter location in profile

UI tweaks

  • New icon to represent ‘Communities’
  • Header image in profiles
  • Improvements to dark theme

Bug fixes

  • Clicking ‘Load more’ no longer takes you to the top of the list

Ivan, our designer and front-end developer, is updating our styleguide, which will make it easy for admins of federated instances to customise the look and feel of MoodleNet.  

We almost had usernames ready for this release, but want to do some more work on that. Once we have introduced usernames, you will (eventually) be able to @-mention other users. We’ll also make it easy for users to change the default header image in an upcoming release.

MoodleNet at the Creative Commons Summit 2019

Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal

Last week, Doug Belshaw (MoodleNet Lead / Product Manager) spent three days at the Creative Commons Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. This annual event features “hundreds of leading activists, advocates, librarians, educators, lawyers, technologists, and more” coming together for “discussion and debate, workshops and planning, talks and community building”.

The focus was on Creative Commons and its licenses, but also on the more general concept of the ‘commons’, defined by Wikipedia as:

The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. Commons can also be understood as natural resources that groups of people (communities, user groups) manage for individual and collective benefit. Characteristically, this involves a variety of informal norms and values (social practice) employed for a governance mechanism. Commons can be also defined as a social practice of governing a resource not by state or market but by a community of users that self-governs the resource through institutions that it creates .

Wikipedia

The MoodleNet team did not run a session at the Summit this year. Instead, our aim was to make connections with as many people and projects as possible. The Summit was very useful in that regard, and this posts serves to list (in no particular order) some higlights in the form of potentially-relevant projects.

1. Creative Commons Network Platforms

Image with CC logo

In order to facilitate community dialogue, Creative Commons is setting up a number of ‘network platforms‘, or working groups. These are currently being set up via mailing lists such as Google Groups, synchronous workplace chat apps like Slack, and monthly teleconferences.

There’s a real opportunity, we think, for MoodleNet to be the default open place that people from different organisations come together to organise, discuss and share.

2. Wikidata

Screenshot of Wikidata website
Screenshot of the Wikidata website

Wikidata is very well summarised on its main page:

Wikidata is a free and open knowledge base that can be read and edited by both humans and machines.

Wikidata acts as central storage for the structured data of its Wikimedia sister projects including Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, Wiktionary, Wikisource, and others.

Wikidata also provides support to many other sites and services beyond just Wikimedia projects! The content of Wikidata is available under a free licenseexported using standard formats, and can be interlinked to other open data sets on the linked data web.

There are currently 50 million items that have been contributed by 20,000 users on the platform. They describe it as the largest Open Educational Resource ever!

We’re particularly interested in Wikidata as a way to represent, in an objective, multi-lingual way, the data used by the resources added and uploaded to MoodleNet instances.

3. Global Digital Library

Screenshot of Global Digital Library website
Screenshot of Global Digital Library

Global Digital Library (GDL) is a project that aims to “provide access to free, high-quality, early grade reading resources in languages that children use and understand”. A key component of their strategy is that, instead of simply translating OER produced in English by western educators, content is created locally in around 100 languages.

We’re interested in the work GDL are doing in terms of the glocal (“reflecting or characterized by both local and global considerations”) perspective they bring to OER. We’re aiming to do something similar with MoodleNet! Interestingly, the presenter, Chris Gunderson, also talked about the newly-formed Digital Public Goods Alliance, which we will keep an eye on.

4. OER World Map

Screenshot of the OER World Map
Screenshot of the OER World Map

The OER World Map is a project which aims to “illuminate the global Open Educational Resources movement by facilitating interaction and collaboration”. It does this by collecting and sharing “open data about actors and activities related to OER”. One of the people involved in the project, Adrian Pohl, kindly left a comment on our recent Voodoo categorisation post.

We think that the OER World Map is a great visual representation of the work that’s going on in our field. The data that we can gather on educators’ work through MoodleNet would be a useful way to augment this map, and we can also learn from the work they’ve done around categorisation.

5. CC Search

Screenshot of CC Search
Screenshot of the new Creative Commons Search, now out of beta

Creative Commons Search is now out of beta! It currently searches 300 million images across 19 providers, as well as a small number of 3D designs courtesy of Thingiverse. In addition, they have one-click attribution tools to really focus the search on reuse.

Later this year, Jane Park the project lead told us, CC Search will also feature open textbooks. They’ve already got an API for accessing the data they have, but are also looking to create a ‘Push API’ so that data from other sources can make it into CC Search.

We’re particularly interested in the potential of a ‘Push API’, as it means that original OER uploaded to MoodleNet could make it into the global CC Search to be discovered and reused by educators worldwide!

An honourable mention should also be given to OASIS, another OER search portal, which we’ve discussed in a previous post. It’s actually been created by two guys from the State University of New York in their spare time.

Concluding thoughts

Panel session at CC Summit
Panel session at CC Summit

There were so many other great sessions and conversations in which we took part. However, in the interests of time, we’ve reduced some of them to bullet points:

  • Open by default vs Privacy by design — an interesting discussion that led us to think that perhaps the meta issue here is coercive power relationships?
  • CC ID — some researchers in China have proposed a system similar to Digital Object Identifer (DOI) for Creative Commons-licensed works. We have our reservations about this, but will see how the project progresses.
  • H5P — lots of excitement about this in regards to Moodle. We think it’s going to be great to curate collections of activities in MoodleNet!
  • Wikimedia — we were part of discussions about the Wikimedia Foundation’s goals for 2030 in regards to education. More on this soon, no doubt.
  • Open pedagogyLeigh-Ann Perryman from the Open University spoke about the vital importance of educators operating in the open.

On the third and final day, we were involved in a Virtually Connecting session right at the end of the Summit, which you can watch below:

It was a great Summit, and we look forward to putting in a proposal to present at next year’s event!


A final, special shout-out to Bryan Mathers’ Remixer Machine, which produced a whole gallery of ‘stamps’ relating to Lisbon and the CC Summit. Check out the beautiful images that were created by participants below:

Stamps created by participants at CC Summit using The Remixer Machine
A gallery of ‘stamps’ created by participants at CC Summit using The Remixer Machine