Hello Fellow Moodlers!
My institution is grappling with making the new File Picker with Alfresco repository integration work for our use-case scenarios and have come up with some action items, brainstormings, etc., that we'd like to share. We don't have the solutions yet - but we're working on them and looking for like-minded to share their experience and contribute too, hence this post.
We also recently attended the USMoodleMoot-West Coast. We sat in on the presentation by UCLA "Testing Moodle 2.0 Compatibility with Alfresco and Equella Repositories." Out of this presentation came a few interesting problem statements. They are addressed in my notes below.
So, I'm posting here our the brainstorming notes between our support/training team and application developer team, as we wrack our brains around meeting our use-case needs. Please read on, and jump in!
Original Problem Statements [Proposed at US WestCoast Moodle Moot by UCLA]:
- If a TA uploads a file to Alfresco and in Moodle links to the file when assisting faculty in building a course, then the file is inherently owned by the TA and not the faculty member as Alfresco is user-centric, whereas the prior Moodle model was course-centric with file associations.
- If a faculty member or TA leaves the UCSF system, what happens to the files in their user account that are used to fundamentally run a course on Moodle? [referred to in the UCLA presentation as "sync" - a conversation Martin Dougiamas participated in, as well]
Possible Solution Our Team Has Brainstormed:
- Create a bridge/box/broker [hereafter referred to as the "box"] to handle the business logic (that we define) between Moodle and Alfresco.
- The box is the backend; the File Picker in Moodle is the UI - but we'll need to edit the UI for the Alfresco plugin.
Our General Meeting Goals:
1. Began flushing out some use-case scenarios
2. Mapping out bones of over-arching picture between Moodle-Alfresco using our bridge/broker/box idea
3. Getting into general details of possible permissions and scenarios [business logic box will have to handle]
We Came up with:
1. Use Alfresco just for learning objects - accessible by faculty and course creators (in Moodle speak).
2. End users don't ever access Alfresco, they access via one of the integration points (e.g. Moodle, but could easily be any other system also using Alfresco as a joint repository)
3. Content is managed by faculty/course admin/content assistants. Students don't access/store content in Alfresco. Students as TAs have permissions to access content via their Moodle role (e.g., Content Assistant).
4. Use of File Picker > Private Files: For students. They can upload files to their file picker and use this as their "file server" for all their Moodle courses.
5. Behavior: When a student needs to upload a file to an assignment or discussion forum (e.g., activities) in Moodle, they use the File Picker > Private Files OR Upload a File option - which are both default Moodle behaviors that associate the file uploaded with the course and only instructor-level permissions can view/review file submission. Question/Problem: Will students see "Alfresco" as an option in the File Picker AND can we disable them seeing it as an option via the Moodle roles/permissions feature - toggling to prevent their ability to see file picker? [Don't know answer, need to research.]
And Identified 4 Major Problems to Address (summarized):
1. Roles / Permissions - handle via the business rules built into our box between Alfresco/Moodle.
2. File Management via integration point interface (e.g., access Alfresco via Moodle File Picker) - upload, delete, rename, move files via File Picker in sync with Alfresco
- Talk of when user uploads file via file picker they choose sharing permissions:
a. Global (public)
b. Course only (roles w/permissions in course)
c. UCSF only (authenticated users in Moodle-speak)
AND FOR ADD A RESOURCE > URL
- designation of "container" (e.g., to handle the directory link for URL - set the permissions so users in Moodle will see the files within the directory, to restore the "Add a resource>Link to a directory" functionality that the majority of our users in Moodle 1.9.x rely upon).
3. Sync: Still an issue of what to do with learning objects (files) held in Alfresco associated with user and user leaves...
Question: If user leaves UCSF [insert "your institution"] system, what happens with the files associated with their user account that are shared as learning object resources in courses or with other users?
4. Dealing with Moodle hash references for file mapping and utilizing the power of Alfresco's versioning control system. E.g. - If a user chooses to update a file in Moodle, Moodle will create a new hash reference for the file, even if the file is named same as existing file. So, utilizing Alfresco and the "box" - via the Moodle File Picker it is proposed will need a menu for the user to choose:
a. Is this an overwrite? If yes, then use same Moodle hashtag as existing. If no, create a new hashtag.
b. Do you want the following links updated in these courses where this file is also shared? (Versioning control, as a use-case may be that a faculty member does NOT want an archived course link updated - hence this is not an overwrite, this is a new hashtag - so truly, "a" mentioned above is conditional on this question "b").
[5. Already resolved: Single-sign on - our developers shibbolized Alfresco-Moodle connection]
So that's what we're grappling with in a nutshell. If you've ideas, please comment and share on this thread - or tell me where I should post on this thread or what tracker to post on. I'll be more than happy to!