06 August 2013

MoodleMoot Portland Keynote - Martin Dougimas, Moodle Founder and CEO

Martin is joining us from the future! He's 16 hours away in Austrailia, via GoToMeeting.

So who needs teachers? Students are able to get knowledge anytime they would like. There have been a lot of predictions about what education would look like. Some say that Google will be feeding us information before we even know that we need it. Go to YouTube to learn an instrument. The hole in the wall project in India, etc. However, Moodle's position is that teachers are important. They need support and resources. The human component is missing when you take the teacher out of the equation. Even when learning happens over the internet, you still make a personal connection.

One of the great things about Moodle is that even though it is open-source, it can be run on your own server, with your own data, keeping everything that you want as private as you want. There is one site that is supporting over a million students, with several running over one hundred thousand. Moodle supports teachers and learners.

Given that as the mission, how do we get there? By development. Moodle allows many plugins to talk to other plugins. Such as a student posting an assignment and that triggering some action. Or the reverse, where a students doesn't post an assignment which triggers some external log, etc. Caching allows an increase in performance cutting down the amount of work the program has to do (cutting out repetitive actions). Moodle partners are allowed to prioritize their bug fixes (MoodleRooms).

So where are we going from here? Moodle 2.5! And then some discussion happens about bootstrap, which I have no idea to what he is referring. I got a bit lost here. Something about Responsive Design. We are currently running 2.4.4. The other priority Moodle is working on is outcome-based learning. If you are interested in this, look into standards-based grading. There are also a significant amount of improvements on forums, such as accessibility, discussion subscription, improved navigation, in-line reply, and posting stats. Additionally, they are working on data-driven improvements. In other words, analytics and reporting. I suspect that our reports for students not attending class or not turning in assignments will be coming soon. They will also be working on Course Management. According to Martin, the current one is rubbish. Improvements to grading papers, the ability to annotate assignment (via PDF), will be coming. Accessibility!! Gradebook!! Bug Fixing. These are not all coming in 2.5, but many will be coming in future iterations. Many people are unhappy with the Moodle app. However, it is impossible to have the app do everything the full site does. It is more focused on offline work, e.g. being able to download course information and grade or read.

Look into signing up for AirNotifier Server when it becomes available? This would enable notifications, meaning that students could be notified by text about due dates, etc.

Look for a new Moodle.org coming soon. This will include badging for users who are particularly helpful in the forums. Consider taking the MOOC, which occurs starting on 1 Sept 2013 at learn.moodle.net. You will earn a Mozilla Badge. There is a Moodle Course Creators Certificate that can be earned as well.

Martin shared a great list of research questions asked and explored at the Moodle Research Conference (this year in Tunisia, next year maybe the US.) What about data? How do we address issues of privacy? What about notifications? Specifically, notifications when students need help, without them asking for it? How can we motivate students with data? Can badges be motivators?

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