Moodlemoot Ireland & UK 2012 – Day #2

Day two began with a panel session on moving from Moodle 1.9 to 2.2 (and beyond!), where seasoned Moodle veterans shared their experiences on this major version transition. As Alison Pope noted (@alisonpope) on Twitter, there are “four upgrade approaches

  1. in place and (a) staged (b) in one go
  2. clean install and (a) migrate content (b) rebuild content”.

I was interested (but unsurprised) to hear during this session that plugins are the biggest issue, particularly with non-standard hacks and tweaks.

Whilst there are all manner of Moodle plugins and blocks I’d be keen on us installing at the University of Bath, I’m thankful that we’ve limited our foray into this world to three strategically important ones. These are our in-house developed Moodle/SITS integration as well as Panopto and the Turnitin integration from Dan Marsden [Further details on our Turnitin approach can be found elsewhere on this blog.] Oh, and for the record, we’re going for the 1(b) approach listed above!

Conference Organiser Gavin Henrick also mentioned towards the end of the panel session that he was going to be uploading a Moodle 2 blueprint for upgrade onto this blog before too long. One too keep an eye out for, I think!

Next up was the today’s keynote from Helen Foster, the Community Manager over at Moodle.org, where over a million users are registered.

In this hour long talk, Helen took the audience through several areas of the wider website (.com, .org and .net), in part, giving  walk-through of the three demo Moodle installations that it might be tapping into. These are:

  1. Moodle Demo – A demonstration version of Moodle, where users can log in as any role.
  2. School Demo site – Great for exploring Moodle within a particular role within an environment which has been populated with some data.
  3. QA Testing site – Testing new features in the dev(elopment) version of Moodle. This is due to be used (and bashed!) extensively from May onwards for about a  month in the run up to the  release of Moodle 2.3.
Certainly, following Helen’s presentation, I feel that I really should get (even) more involved with the Moodle Community online spaces. If possible, it’d be great  to contribute some (if not all) of the Moodle Features Demo course that my colleagues and I are currently working on as a way of giving something back.
In a similar vain to yesterday’s blog post, the following are some messages I took away from the range of presentations and breakout sessions that I attended over the course of today. In no particular order…
  • York St. John University (YSJ) have a rather interesting looking web application called Moodle Modules which sits between the student record system SITS and Active Directory (AD). Moodle modules dictates what modules are created within Moodle and assigns tutors roles. Given that we have a similar application over at Bath (but that doesn’t work with AD, I’d be keen to compare notes and identify differences at some point.
  • The YSJ Moodle theme allows for customisation, including some accessibility enhancements, which again would be worth having a conversation about. Their Course filter functionality was also noted as this functionality allowed for course listings to be personalised by users somewhat and prevented the dreaded “scroll of death”. It’s just a shame that York is so far away from Bath as it would have been great to have spent a bit more time with these guys.
  • For pedagogical, procedural and technical reasons, the upgrade to Moodle 2.2 was described as a “game changer” with its enormous benefit to all involved.
  • Gavin Henrick gave a good introduction to using repositories in Moodle 2.x – his slides can be found on his Slideshare space. We’ve enabled the Dropbox, Google Docs, Flickr and Wikimedia ones on our test Moodle 2.2 installation, but perhaps there are some others that we should consider?
  • As Meredith Henson from Catalyst IT Europe Limited discussed that Moodle users might be more attracted to a different activity in Moodle 2.x, than they previously used in 1.9. So, instead of using  a File resource in 1.9, users might be attracted to the Book course format in 2.x instead. Similarly, the Feedback module might be used instead of the Quiz for some activities. Something to consider when planning staff development initiatives at Bath, for sure.
  • A number of institutions are running Google Analytics on their Moodle installations. We’ve been doing this at Bath since 2008, but rarely interrogate the data to inform future decisions. Perhaps this is an area for us to develop in?

So, that’s it – another Moodlemoot is nearly over! Many thanks to all attendees for your contributions, conversations, tweets and so much more besides. It’s was a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding conference, and I look forward to hearing from some of those I met to continue developing ideas with the potential to exchange resources and explore some areas to collaborate within.

In the meantime (and as some know), I have some more writing of my own to be getting on with…

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About Nitin Parmar
I am a Learning Technologist within the e-Learning team in the Learning & Teaching Enhancement Office, University of Bath, UK.

One Response to Moodlemoot Ireland & UK 2012 – Day #2

  1. Pingback: Ireland & UK Moodlemoot - Blogs and Stuff

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