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UK & Ireland Moodle Moot 2013

It’s that time of year again when Moodle enthusiasts from all over the UK and Ireland meet at the annual Moot.  This year’s Moot was again held in Dublin, Ireland and just like the previous year was a great event – credit must go to Gavin Henrick and his team.

It was a more relaxing moot for me this year as I wasn’t presenting but I still came back with a lot of useful knowledge and information. One of things I was keen to explore with delegates from other institutions was how they backup/archive Moodle courses. We currently keep three years’ worth of modules stored on Moodle. The reason for this is because the majority of students are enrolled on courses that run over three years.

In the summer we plan to archive 09/10 modules and potentially 10/11 modules so that we only have the current and previous years modules available on Moodle. From the people I spoke to about this the most common solutions were:

  1. Take a snapshot of the server that snapshot of the server that could be restored should old assignment/module information need to be accessed.
  2. Another installation of Moodle for archived course content and modules.

Personally, I like the idea of having a Moodle/Mahara alumni site where both archive modules and student Mahara portfolios can be accessed.

The standout presentation on day 1 for me was by Lillian Buus from Aalborg University. The e-learning team at Aalborg University have developed a context and role specific help block for tutors, administrators and students.  This block aims to provide vital moment of need support for Moodle users from within the learning environment.

I would really like to have this help block installed on our installation of Moodle. I can see it being a great resource for first line support for both tutors and students. Since we started using Moodle we have developed a series of step-by-step guides and instructional videos. These have often been missed by colleagues because they are available outside of Moodle. With a context specific help me block we could potentially link to these resources from within the learning environment.

I would then be keen to evaluate its impact the context specific ‘help me’ has on the types of support queries (phone/email) the team receive. On a daily basis the TEL team deal with of queries such as: How do I sign in to Moodle?, Why can’t I see my modules?  I’m wondering if these queries would be reduced if the hep me block was installed.

Unfortunately, the help me block is only available for Moodle 1.9 but it is being redeveloped for Moodle 2.4. This will be worth revisiting again when we plan to do our upgrade to 2.4/2.5 in the summer.

I also really enjoyed all the Pecha Kucha presentations delivered during the afternoon session. Mike Hughes from City University London kicked off proceedings with his presentation titled: ‘Can usability testing help make your Moodle better?’

Usability, responsive design and Moodle themes were a key theme at this year’s event. This was useful for us because we are currently reviewing our Moodle theme with a view to revamping it when we upgrade in the summer. Bootstrap appears to be the way to go if you are thinking of redesigning/building your theme.

Both Mary Cooch and Helen Foster also delivered insightful Pecha Kucha’s. Helen presented ’10 useful things teachers can do with roles. More on this presentation can be found here:
http://docs.moodle.org/19/en/Useful_things_a_teacher_can_do_with_roles.

Mary provided an overview of Mount Orange School – a Moodle demo site that includes a wide variety of Moodle activities. The idea behind the site is anyone can login as any role and experiment with the features/activities of Moodle. Be careful thought, the site resets it’s self every hour and restores it back to a clean installation Of Moodle.

Day 2 started with a kyenote from Martin Dougiamas. It was nice to have Martin at the Moot this year and delivering a presentation in person rather than via Skype like previous years. His keynote was simply titled ‘Future’ and he opened with this statement: “Moodle is no longer competing with the Juggernauts, it is the juggernaut”.

Some of the key things to note from the presentation were:

  • The development and release cycle for Moodle is changing. The new development and release cycle will now be May and November.
  • The Moodle Mobile App BETA release will be available soon. A nice feature of the app is that it can be customised so it has the same branding/design of your institutions Moodle install.
  • Moodle HQ’s focus is currently: Core development (Usability, Feedback & Performance), Plugins and the Community.
  • Integration with Open Badges will be available in 2.5
  • A new framework for reporting and analytics is being developed

After, Martin’s keynote I was keen to find out more about the work that @DavoSmith (from Synergy Learning) has being doing since the last Moot. At last year’s moot Davo presented the work he has been doing to enable the capability to drag and drop files into Moodle.

This year he presented on a range of plugins which includes: a checklist, a Real time Quiz, PDF assignment annotation and the ability to drag and drop images into courses. Davo’s presentation from the event can be found below.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1i5GV7LlQSW0PPm0H7_TcJxOiz3nBDEZ7piCX_nW-KPA/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000#slide=id.gaaca58f6_00

I think the right time to introduce these plugins to staff will be when we upgrade in the summer. I can see the drag and drop images, checklist and PDF assignment annotation plugin being particularly popular.

To finish (and believe me I could have gone on for a lot longer) I thought I would list some of the other plugins and useful knowledge I acquired at the Moot:

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Daniel Mackley

Daniel’s role is to identify staff learning needs and strategically design, deliver and evaluate development interventions related to the effective use of current and emerging Technology Enhanced Learning tools in Higher Education. Working to the Learning & Teaching Development annual objectives and the TEL quality framework, he pro-actively supports and develops staff in their use of technology to enhance the student learning experience. Daniel is also the lead for the teams iPad Project.

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