Feedback from #MozFest and #MootUS18

Last week, members of the MoodleNet team ran well-attended sessions at the Mozilla Festival (London, UK) and the US MoodleMoot (Denver, CO, USA). The former was set within a wider framework of the decentralisation strand at MozFest, and the latter was an opportunity to gather ideas and feedback from a subsection of the Moodle community.

MozFest session post-its


Notes from the session

As anyone who has been will know, the Mozilla Festival is a mind-blowing weekend of sessions, talks, and collaboration, all focused on the open web. Our accepted session proposal was based on MoodleNet, but also on the wider concept of decentralisation — particularly in relation to the ActivityPub protocol.

Participants in the session ranged from educators who were dipping a toe in the water of decentralised technologies, through to those who worked with, or for, the W3C.

As well as feedback on what we’re trying to build with MoodleNet, a key aim for the workshop was for participants to be able to explain the importance of decentralisation using stories, metaphors, and allegories.

Some of our favourites included:

  • “FREEDOM to do weird stuff”
  • “In nature there is no boss and it’s evolved, is sustainable and resilient”
  • “Distributed power, be it online, in person, or how we live”
  • “Put your OER to the fediverse and gain more attraction”
  • “You can have nice things without being the product”

MoodleMoot US post-its


Notes from the session

MoodleMoots are events for the Moodle community which encourage collaboration and sharing of best practices. We ran very interactive session, with the aim to get as much feedback from workshop attendees as possible.

There were a range of participants, from Higher Ed CIOs, to K12 educators, to representatives from the corporate world. We learned a lot from the feedback we received, with some of the highlights being:

  • Insight into some of the tools that people are using that we haven’t come across before.
  • What participants liked about MoodleNet, what they have questions about, and what concerns them.
  • What we should add to MoodleNet after the core resource-sharing component.
  • Anything we’ve missed or haven’t discussed.

Interestingly, after the session, where participants had a lot of chance to ask questions and give feedback, two people came up to us separately and asked variations of the same question. Would organisations, they asked, be able to completely lock down MoodleNet so that it can only be used within that organisation?

We explained that this was not what we are aiming for with MoodleNet but that, of course, as open source software, there would be nothing stopping people from creating a version that would do this. We believe in the free and open sharing of educational resources, while recognising that there are some occasions (e.g. copyright, local laws) where resources would have to be restricted in some way.

We’re still working on working out the nuance here. One simple model is that which GitHub, the code-collaboration platform, uses. Creating a public repository on GitHub is available with a free account but, if you want to create a private repository, you have to pay. There’s an obvious parallel here with MoodleNet and collections, the key difference being the decentralised aspect.

Remember that anyone can suggest features for MoodleNet via our easy-to-use Changemap site!

Introducing MoodleNet at ALT-C

Update: watch the recording of the session here!

This week, Doug Belshaw (MoodleNet Lead) is in Manchester, UK for the Association for Learning Technology’s annual conference, ALT-C.

Doug is presenting directly after the keynote in the main auditorium today, giving participants an overview of what MoodleNet is and how they can get involved in shaping it. The slides can be found embedded at the top of this post, or via this link:

MoodleNet at MountainMoot 2018


Last week, MoodleNet Lead Doug Belshaw flew to Helena, MT in the USA for the eighth annual MountainMoot. This independently-run event is well-regarded in the Moodle community, and it was a great opportunity to both run a session on the current status of MoodleNet and get to know the needs of participants a little better.

You can read details of the workshop session on this page of the MoodleNet wiki.

Responding to questions from #MootES18

Last week, in Barcelona, Doug Belshaw (MoodleNet Lead) and Mayel de Borniol (MoodleNet Technical Architect) presented at MoodleMoot Spain. It was an interactive session, with participants not only asking questions, but writing down their thoughts on a series of structured post-it notes.

You can see the slides we used below, or by clicking here.

Participants wrote down what they liked about MoodleNet on green post-its, what they had questions about (yellow), and any concerns they had (pink). We’ve transcribed these, and translated those written in Spanish on this wiki page.

Given that we’re still rethinking community calls, we thought that this post could serve to  answer some of the questions from #MootES18. Below are some recurrent themes, and ones that caught our eye.

Post-its from MoodleNet session at #MootES18

First of all, there’s a whole bunch of questions where the answer is effectively ‘yes’. Let’s deal with those first:

Can you share full courses (.mbz files)?

Yes! In fact we’re aiming to use some of the functionality in Moodle so that MoodleNet collections are imported/exported as .mbz files.

How is it shared? Just by exporting the content/course and importing it to yours? Can it be customised, adopted, changed, then?

Yes! So you can take a collection of, say, 10 resources, and choose to use just one or two of them in your course.

The searches are going to be made only in one language or will allow more than one?

Yes! We’ll be allowing searches in multiple languages.

Does it let you know if a group appears according to your interests?

Yes! We’re already doing UX work to show how MoodleNet will recommend communities and collections to users.

Can you subscribe to a topic without a group?

Yes! You can follow a collection that’s curated by a community without following or joining the community itself.

Then there’s other questions that can be answered quickly, for example:

I don’t understand where ‘content’ will be stored? If I want to share a 500mb video where is this held?

MoodleNet will be a place to share links to resources. So, for example, if you see a YouTube video and a resource on an OER repository, you can point to them from a MoodleNet collection. So your 500mb video is best uploaded to a video sharing site and linked to from MoodleNet. We are, however, planning to create a repository for Moodle-specific resources and activities such as quizzes.

Is it mandatory that someone has to add me to a group? Can I create groups? Can I share content that is outside a Moodle course?

We’re going to experiment with different options for this. So, for example, there may be communities that anyone can join without asking, while some are moderated and you have to ask to join. You can create your own community too, and the idea is absolutely that you share content from around the web that can be used in your Moodle course.

Is MoodleNet available for all Moodle versions?

Right now, we’re thinking that we’re probably best off integrating MoodleNet with MoodleCloud for launch. We’ve enough work to do initially without the added complication of supporting different versions of Moodle. After that, we’ll work with Moodle Partners to test MoodleNet in hosted installations, and finally roll out a plugin for any Moodle site.

Will there be any moderation?

Moderation is going to be the responsibility of communities. If a community does a particularly bad job of moderation and doesn’t seem to be responding to the concerns of Moodle users, then Moodle HQ may have to step in. The idea, however, is that issues around spam, ‘fake news’, and link rot is dealt with on a community level.

Is it possible to geolocate educators to facilitate local meetings?

That’s an awesome idea, and something we’d very much like to enable. It depends on a few things, including getting past the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) stage for initial launch, getting people’s location in a GDPR-compliant way, and building an interface where people can find each other easily. An added complication is that we’re purposely not building a private messaging feature in the MVP, and you’d probably want some location data not to be public knowledge.

Finally, there are some questions that require a lengthier response, such as:

Will there be some form of translation? Collaborative or automatic?

This is something that we need to work on. Translation in Moodle Core is a community effort, as it is for a lot of open source projects. While we could do automatic machine translation of resources, it’s arguable as to whether that would be worthwhile. After all, if an educator doesn’t speak the language used by a community, what use are the resources and collections likely to be? It’s an area where we’re open to ideas, particularly if people have examples they’d like to share.

What kind of resources I can publish? A course? A section? A resource? What’s going be the license?

All of the above! MoodleNet will be content-agnostic, so you can share pretty much anything you like. We can imagine, further down the line, for example, people sharing collections of Moodle plugins they find useful. In terms of the licensing, it’s important to remember that, initially, MoodleNet will be collections of links to resources. So the copyright information depends on whatever license the original uploader decided to use.

What is the model of economic sustainability of this platform? Answered, but is real?

This is an open question, but we have lots of options, which is good. Our main revenue, over and above the investment Moodle HQ received at the end of the year, comes through Moodle Partners. So we want to ensure that MoodleNet provides value to them. There’s also integration with MoodleCloud, which we could do at the paid level, for example, as well as featured collections, and other options that we’re still investigating.

Will MoodleNet include a market place? Like for hiring developers and consultants.

I wouldn’t say that this is going to happen any time soon, but it’s a good idea and one that I know Martin Dougiamas has talked about in passing. Our first goal is to get the resource-sharing social media element of MoodleNet up-and-running, providing value to the community and to Moodle Partners, before we build out any additional functionality. I think a markeplace would probably be focused on community members crowdfunding projects that they’d like to bring into existence. Developer and consultants could absolutely be part of that process.

What will happen to existing shared resources on

We haven’t finalised plans for sunsetting the existing site, but we’re not getting rid of anything! The likelihood is that all content previously shared will be archived and available to be referenced in the new MoodleNet platform. It’s important to remember that MoodleNet is content-agnostic, so you could have a collection of courses, for example.

So, there we go! Have you got any questions for the MoodleNet team? We’d be happy to answer them in the comments section below.

Thanks to Txell Llorach for allowing us to use a photo she posted to Twitter during the event!