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!
Give emergency access to the server infrastructure to at least two people
Give users at least 3 months of advance warning in case of shutting down
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: email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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
Install an app or browser extension that allows you to record your screen. We recommend Loom. Ensure you have the microphone activated!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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:
Demonstrates that users on any MoodleNet instance may follow, join, and interact with communities and collections on any other MoodleNet instance.
Confirms the value proposition of organisations running their own MoodleNet instances
Establishes that search and discovery is possible across MoodleNet instances connected to the Moodle HQ API-as-a-service (‘mothership’)
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?
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.
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:
What do you think of this approach? Is this what you were expecting? What else would you like to see (if anything)?
Today, the team is pleased to have released MoodleNet v0.9.4 alpha.
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!