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My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle

 
 
Martin Dougiamas
My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
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My Moodle has definitely been languishing without attention for a long time and there's some really cool ideas here, well done!

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE it if one of you guys would put your hand up to be the ongoing maintainer for the core version and develop something beautiful for Moodle 2.0 (with community feedback). I can create a new component in the tracker and a new forum here in Using Moodle for this.

It's a little related to the general navigation and blocks discussions going on overall, but I think these are obvious goals for My Moodle:

  • it must be customisable by the user to show as little or as much as they want
  • it should be generic so it can be used by all Moodle institutions (this means working with the community to develop consensus where possible, otherwise options for different features)
  • it should be efficient on CPU and RAM

My own vision for this page was that it should be 'combined' with the user profile page, perhaps as two tabs to switch between:

  • the public profile view that you create and personalise for OTHER people to see, deciding what they can see, adding rss blocks, choosing colors etc
  • the private profile view for yourself, which is more like a dashboard portal page that you customise as an overview. Some of the current buttons and tabs on the user profile would work better here, I think.

It would be just like Home vs Profile on Facebook, for example.

 
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Dan at desk in Moodle HQ, Perth
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
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* it should be efficient on CPU and RAM


Just to emphasise this point for any potential vict^H^H^Holunteers - I really think this point is going to be one of the greatest challenges. If this page is good then it's going to be the hottest page on moodle used by all users all the time! It needs to be very efficient, but unfortunately grabing all the interesting info is very expensive to retrieve at this point in time (See MDL-18241 for an recent example which is fresh in my mind..).
 
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Picture of Olli Savolainen
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
Group Developers
Hi,

It seems there is a world of opportunities in making Moodle more of a social platform. It seems the Thing To Do to engage students more. It does not directly contribute to building and working with the course content, but instead appeals to people's natural tendency to be interested in each other. I can also see making following what's going on in My Courses and with My Friends easier to enhance collaboration between students, and increase activity in courses: "oh, s/he's done that, maybe I should try too".

Also related to the GSOC idea about gifts, Moodle would need to, then, adopt a secondary role of being also a social platform. As the whole world seems to be interested in being The Next Hot Social Platform, we should perhaps try to not reinvent the wheel. I am suspicious about its javascript-heaviness, but could Moodle benefit from OpenSocial? The main benefit being that instead of having separate social platforms everywhere, they could perhaps be interlinked, to a degree - of course, while addressing privacy concerns, too.

Note though that nowadays, Facebook has actually taken a different route itself: favoring integrated actions (Facebook's own apps) instead of external Applications, which have a somewhat reduced visibility n the new FB UI. The problem with plugins seems to be that in the end, they could not really offer as seamless an experience to the users, as what was needed. It seems to me that a restricted set of social features should be built in:
  • a way to add people as friends and to follow what those who I am interested in are doing (status updates, forum posts, , profile and profile photo changes, assignments done, and also actions that happen in Apps/plugins),
  • a capability of publicly commenting on someone's wall (for that person's friends to see)
are features that seem to add strong social involvement in facebook. How this would work with OpenSocial, I am not sure.

http://code.google.com/apis/opensocial/container.html
http://code.google.com/apis/opensocial/docs/0.8/spec.html

"OpenSocial is a set of APIs for building social applications that run on the web. OpenSocial's goal is to make more apps available to more users, by providing a common API that can be used in many different contexts. Developers can create applications, using standard JavaScript and HTML, that run on social websites that have implemented the OpenSocial APIs. These websites, known as OpenSocial containers, allow developers to access their social information; in return they receive a large suite of applications for their users.

The OpenSocial APIs expose methods for accessing information about people, their friends, and their data, within the context of a container. This means that when running an application on Orkut, you'll be interacting with your Orkut friends, while running the same application on MySpace lets you interact with your MySpace friends. For more information on the types of information exposed by the OpenSocial API, see the Key concepts section."

 
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Picture of Olli Savolainen
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
Group Developers
The critical factor that Facebook has nailed is getting the user experience right. That is, even though users are not always content with Facebook's UI, it seems to be capable of consistently providing a personally meaningful reason to come back.

Moodle, on the other hand, is content specific and not primarily people specific. Instead of giving a few simple views with what is relevant to the person using Moodle, My Moodle has eight tabs, which seem to answer to the question "what possibilities could I find in Moodle to adapt them to my needs" rather than to a simpler "where could I get started with exploring". The name "My Moodle" also reflects this: well, you are sort of admitting it is about the user, but still you are talking about Moodle. For the user it is not about Moodle at all - it is about the user him/herself, and hopefully about the subject they are interested in. (The course the student is [to a degree] engaged in is what s/he tries to match his/her own interests to. It is not what counts to the student, except when it comes to the superficial goal of validating studies.)

That is, the ultimate user experience is the one where users' needs are understood and responded to before they start to actively look for anything.

Of course, on a course students need to be active to learn and to really build their own wholes. But it seems to me that to reach the social reality of users, we must, like Facebook, more actively create an user experience, where users explore and click around without that much deep thought in the process of using the application itself. The depth comes from the subject matter and only it, while the user is immersed in the experience. Experiencing a social reality can create this immersion, and Facebook is currently one of the strongest examples of this.

So there is the question of how we want users to approach Moodle:
  • through courses (a reality based more or less on the teacher's perception of what is relevant) or
  • through social interaction, a reality perceived by students as something more intimately their own (and their friends')?
Ideally we would combine them, drawing motivation from the social aspects and directing that energy (ahem) to learning. Not My Moodle, but My Experience (of Learning).

So I see the user's home page in Moodle as an alternative major access point to Moodle, in addition to the course front pages - not a separate corner of Moodle that nobody else is mostly interested in, but something deeply linked with everything the user does and what he/she is interested in everywhere else in Moodle. What might I do now, to go on with my Learning Experience (in any of my courses), that matches my current learning mode, interests (and even mood)?

Funnily, much of this is already present functionality wise - for example, if organized less technocentrically, the "Activity Reports" tab (/course/user.php?id=2&user=2&mode=complete) already tells what the user has done. At the moment, it still presents it in the context and from the point of view of the course and not of the student as an independent actor. What is missing is what those the user is interested in are doing, and what the user would probably be interested in engaging himself next.

Of course social constructivism is an effective antidote to "just pouring information into heads". It still seems to me though, from the courses that I have seen, that the user experience does not reflect this holistically. If the student's personal learning experience is what counts, why does Moodle only communicate the course, a definition of what is relevant in the teacher's mind, as what's important to focus on. Still, the learning experience needs meaningful boundaries, so there is a balance to be found here.
 
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Me at the Moodle Moot NZ11
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
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Hi Olli - interesting posts.

I've been working on practical and simple ways that standard Teachers can replicate social-networking in their courses in a standard Moodle environment for some time.

You can see an example here - you an use Guest access:
http://www.elearning.org.nz/course/view.php?id=19

In simple terms this uses RSS and Javscripts to link to Flickr, Twitter, Wordle, Skype, etc. - all things a Teacher can easily do.

I'm presenting at LearnX e-learning conference in Sydney next week, and showing how this concept can be taken further by the use of non-standard modules and plugins - obvious blocks such as My Contacts and Ajax Twitter spring to mind.

I'll be developing a demonstration of a social-networking Moodle course using non-standard modules and blocks this week... so I'll post a link here to that also smile

I guess my point is... that a course that is a social-networking 'space' (specific course, maybe meta-course?) can easily be created within Moodle using existing functionaility. It would not be the new Facebook, but I don't think it should be. It should just be a little more like Facebook maybe? wink

Stu
 
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Picture of Jonathan Konrad
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
Group Moodle Course Creator Certificate holders

Your course looks very interesting. Will you be posting or rebroadcasting your session in some way? I will not be able to attend, but I would love a bit more information on how you set this all up.

An issue I have with this is that we would need to create a course for each student and teacher in our school district. By adding a few open html blocks into MyMoodle, and then controlling who can access the area (like a friend invite/request system) we could do these kinds of things without needing to create and manage another set of courses.

Jon

 
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Picture of Olli Savolainen
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
Group Developers
Hi Stu,

Thanks for your thoughts. Of course it's great that Moodle can leverage social web features, but it does not seem to make Moodle social in itself if it allows just the teachers to bring content from elsewhere on the web - for the students to just look at?

I am not hoping to make each Moodle installation another Facebook, either. I just see there is a lot of potential to create greater engagement for students if Moodle allows them to engage more naturally in their social interactions.

Olli


 
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Picture of Dale Davies
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
 
Hi Olli, you do have some very interesting points.

I have always felt that the information on the My Moodle page is only geared towards students. Teachers are telling me that the My Moodle page doesnt really apply to them, I'd like to see the information on this page tailored to the type of user.

Obviously the reason we set Moodle up is for learners, but teachers do gain entry into their courses via My Moode too, it would be nice for them to see information that is more useful. For example, teachers already know that yesterday they added a new assignment to the course, they would prefer the My Moodle page to indicate how many submissions there have been.

It would also be very handy to have an option to add blocks only for teachers, or to hide blocks from certain types of users.

I know this is fairly simple stuff compared to what you have discussed in your last few posts and I have already implemented a few basic things like this, but I feel that considering this when planning the next new "My Moodle Update" would be important, after all there is benefit to be had from My Moodle for all users, but not necesarily from the same things.

Just something to throw into the melting pot anyways smile
 
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Picture of Olli Savolainen
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
Group Developers
But really, that's just it! Going further to think about what information could be meaningful to which users in different contexts.

Still, I do share Martin's initial view about having two different main views, like in Facebook. In addition to following students' the activities, it is important to have a view for a teacher to answer the question: what have I done, that is visible to the students ? This is for two reasons:

First, people are funnily egoistic things by nature, and like to see concrete results of their work. Of course they can see the course, but I bet it is interesting also from a "what I have done in the past couple of days" perspective.

Second , and this is actually the same point as the first one: we are forgetful. If a teacher is running several courses at once, even what s/he has done him/herself is important to know in order to decide what to do next.

What ways, then, is My Moodle more meaningful at the moment to students? What are they, in practice, using it for?


A side track: Notice how you initially posted that twice? Well, I replied to the one that was deleted. When I pressed the "Post to forum" button, it came to me complaining that the parent ID does not exist. Pressing the back button gave me an empty form, just like the one I had before posting, but without the text (is this a problem in HTMLarea? normally pressing the back button preserves filled form data in Firefox, I think). I see loads of complaints on facebook about Moodle "losing their work", and I think we have just discovered one of the ways this happens. An easy fix, then, would be to display the data that could not have been saved, with the error message. Or is this a privacy issue? Well, I did manage to get my data by going forward to the page, launching firebug, enabling network monitoring, and selecting to see the POSTed data.

Now that I mentioned it, here are the Moodle Facebook groups by size (pardon my French; taille means size; the data is some weeks old):

Groupe :
Moodle Ruined My Life
Taille :
637 membres

Groupe :
FUCK MOODLE
Taille :
508 membres

Groupe :
Moodle Users
Taille :
420 membres

Groupe :
Moodle Best Practices
Taille :
262 membres
 
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Picture of Olli Savolainen
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
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Haha, I seem to have confused My Moodle and the user profile in the above. Diving deeper, asap. smile
 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
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Talking to Martin about navigation 2.0, we agreed that My Moodle and the user's profile should be merged, at least in the navigation structure, if not in the code behind the scenes. But, that is a job that may have to wait for later.
 
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Picture of Olli Savolainen
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
Group Developers
Further ideas about social functionality, what is there in wordpress:
Why it is harder to gain the sense of community in Moodle than in Facebook: people share less similar goals. So although Facebook has to a degree reached what the following claims impossible, there are points here: Community is Dead; Long Live Mega-Collaboration.
 
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Picture of Olli Savolainen
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
 
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Picture of J Walter
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
 
By my understanding.. this application is geared towards teaching people things, thats the baseline of why moodle is in use. As far as I can see.. social groups can be catered for but the bottom line is that it is a teaching platform, albeit a digital one.  There are forums that can be deployed if you need (as a teacher) to make it available, but the bottom line is, if we want to make it work for us, we can make use of the functionality it already presents and we can build on it. BUT.. it is an important factor to remember what stage the project is at right now.  I think the word "scope" (thereof the project) plays a big part in this.. 
 
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Picture of Mike Churchward
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
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Martin -

Did you find a maintainer for this?

mike
 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
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Martin is off on a round-the-world tour now, but I think the answer is no, we didn't.
 
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Picture of Dale Davies
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
 
What is involved in being a maintainer? I'd love to help out in anyway I can, I just need to make sure I can dedicate enough time to it.
 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
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Well, I was going to give you a link to the list of open My Moodle issues in the tracker, since that would be a good way to give you an impression of the kind of issues that need to be fixed.

However, that component does not seem to exist. (Ah, it does now. Thanks Helen. However, no bugs will yet be classified against that component.)

Try this search results instead.

Probably the first task would be to get on top of that bug list, triage them, and fix what was fixable, and to triage and hopefully fix new bugs as they came in.

That would also be a good way to learn your way round the code.

Then, once you knew more about how things currently worked, you would be well placed to suggest larger-scale changes in future.


When I took over as quiz maintainer, to start with my employer (The Open Universtiy) committing about half a day per week of my time to work on general quiz issues. That was three years ago. Now I am working for moodle.com in Perth!
 
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Picture of Mike Churchward
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
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Spoke with Martin about this today, and we'd be happy to take on the maintainer role for this piece. We have similar functions on our roadmap already, and it would make sense to apply them to one initiative. Dale, we'd welcome your help and input as well.

mike
 
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Picture of Dale Davies
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
 
Yep sounds great, if there's anything I can do just yell.
 
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Picture of Olli Savolainen
Re: My Moodle: New maintainer for My Moodle
Group Developers
Great to see this getting proper attention. As soon as documentation comes online about the plans on how to develop the personal part of Moodle, I'd love to take a look at it.
 
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