It was fantastic to see Moodle Moot mootieuk16 come back to London, after a four year break.This was the first UK IE Moodle Moot that was officially supported by Moodle HQ, and this shown by the sheer amount of HQ presenters.
There were a number of takeaways that I took from the 3 day event that are listed below.
One Page Assignment
Moodle HQ presented that they are working on better grading and feedback user experiences. This has included working on a new prototype that allows for inline comments and grading on the same page. A prototype of this is available from the site http://prototype.moodle.net/assign-ux (screenshot below).
This won’t be available right away but will be released in a future version of Moodle. This is welcomed news as it looks like it could rival some of the functionality offered by both Canvas Speed Grader and Turnitin Grademark.
External System Integrations
Moodle HQ have prioritised working on a number of external integration tools and hope to be releasing better Google Apps integration in the future, alongside the existing Office365 integration’s. This is great news and will align Moodle with it’s competitors.
Moodle HQ also mentioned ongoing work on the Moodle Mobile App and recent efforts to make sure more activity and resource types available offline. This includes book, file, folder, label, page, grades, completion, scorm, forum, assign and quiz alongside others. A full list of features is available here:
Moodle HQ are concentrating on improving the user experience in a number of areas. One direct move they are making is that from Moodle 3.1, the default theme will have no blocks. This should directly improve the ability for users to navigate around a site and concentrate on course content. It should also be noted that the way blocks display content on pages may also be rewritten in the future to stop the ‘cluttered’ interfaces that sometimes appear on sites. This need was echoed by Florearm’s presentation about Home Learning College, and how they spoke about a number of plugins to remove the Moodle feel to Moodle. This included, a custom course format, a resume button, progress bars, book visuals and quiz layouts.
Another move that has been made is to include the ability to have clean or human readable URL’s in core from Moodle 3.1 (MDL-28030). This is a great move and will help with not only the user experience but also with reporting on use.
Moodle HQ announced that a new Moodle based Mooc platform called Moodle Academy will be released in the next few months. A number of universities have been involved in early piloting including Dublin City University, and it will be opened up to a wider audience.
Moodle HQ also announced that they will be offering a schools focused service that allows a skinned version of Moodle specifically for schools at a flat fee. This is not intended to be a competitor for Moodle Partners who host large complex setups for customers but a way for the small educational establishment to have a standard Moodle install (with no support) available to them with higher limits than the current Moodle Cloud free setup.
Grades and Feedback
Jess Gramp from UCL presented about further work they have done on their ‘My Feedback’ report that is available in the Moodle Plugins repository: https://moodle.org/plugins/report_myfeedback
This plugin allows grades and feedback to be viewed across courses for a particular student. A number of universities mentioned they are / were developing similar plugins such as Queen Mary University and University of Strathclyde. Queen Mary University noted that theirs was focusing on benchmarking students against their peers whilst Strathclyde followed a similar mode to UCL.
It appeared to be a interesting topic for a large portion of the audience wanting a more holistic way for students and instructors to see grades and feedback.
Moodle Mobile App Voting
Gavin Henrick used the Moodle Mobile App within most of his presentations to deliver a vote based activity. This worked really well, especially for those who had already downloaded and logged into the App prior to the conference. Users would up the app, go to the appropriate course and click a choice activity then their choice. Gavin then had a live poll (via web services) the votes into his PowerPoint slides.
Moodle Competency Framework
Moodle HQ mentioned that a new competency framework has been created that will allow institutions to use competencies within their courses. This is particularly useful for vocational based education such as Further Education courses. More information is available here: https://docs.moodle.org/dev/Competency_Based_Education
Learning Analytics Specification
Moodle HQ has been working on a specification for creating a Learning Analytics API for Moodle. This started from the output of a US Moodle Moot workshop and has grown into a wider specification for development.
This is particularly useful as it allows a standardised API to be used across Moodle as a consistent source of data.
For more information please see: https://docs.moodle.org/dev/Learning_Analytics_Specification#What_are_Learning_Analytics.3F
There were many other worthy mentions but these were my main takes.