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

Making search a delightful experience in MoodleNet

MoodleNet is a new open social media platform for educators, focussed on professional development and open content. It is an integral part of the Moodle ecosystem and the wider landscape of Open Educational Resources (OERs). The purpose of this post is to explain how our approach to search will help with this.

Our research shows that educators discover resources in two key ways, which we’re bringing together with MoodleNet.

Proactive/Reactive

In order to be proactive and search for something specific, you have to know what you are looking for. That’s why it’s common for educators to also be reactive, discovering resources and other useful information as a result of their social and professional networks.

From its inception, we’ve designed MoodleNet as a place that works like the web. In other words, it harnesses the collective power of networks while at the same time allowing the intimacy of human relationships. However, search tends to be a transactional experience. How do we make it more ‘social’?

Seung (persona)At this point, let’s re-introduce Seung, the 26 year-old Learning Technologist from Australia who we first met in a white paper from early 2018. She’s looking to help her colleagues use Moodle more effectively, and to connect with other Learning Technologists to discover promising practices.

Seung comes across many potentially-useful resources on her travels around the web, which she curates using services such as Pocket, Evernote, and the ‘favourite/like’ functionality on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. When Seung uses MoodleNet, she joins relevant communities, follows interesting collections and people, and ‘likes’ resources that either she or her colleagues could use.

One of the problems Seung has is re-discovering resources that she’s previously found. Although she considers herself an advanced user of search engines such as Google and DuckDuckGo, Seung is sometimes frustrated that it can take a while to unearth a resource that she had meant to come back to later.

MoodleNet search overview (Bryan Mathers)MoodleNet’s powerful search functionality will allow Seung to both find interesting communities, collections, and profiles, and quickly rediscover resources on MoodleNet that she has marked as potentially-useful. In addition, because MoodleNet is focused on open content, Seung can extend her search to OER repositories and the open web.

The same search functionality will be available through a Moodle Core plugin that allows any user, whether or not they have an account on MoodleNet, to search for resources they would like to pull into their Moodle course. This plugin will also automatically add metadata about the original source location, the MoodleNet collection of which it was part, as well as any licensing information.

We’ve already started conversations with Europeana and Creative Commons about allowing MoodleNet users to directly search the resources they both index. We would also like to explore relationships with other OER repositories who would welcome MoodleNet communities curating and using their openly-licensed resources.  

In closing, we should mention that we have big plans for tags across MoodleNet, involving both taxonomic and folksonomic tagging, and provided by both users and machine learning. More details on that soon.

For now, the MoodleNet team would be interested in any questions or suggestions you have about this approach to search. What do you think? What else would you like to see?


Illustrations CC BY-ND Bryan Mathers