Comparisons and advocacy

One way Canvas has it right.

 
Picture of David Mark Weiss
One way Canvas has it right.
 

I am taking a course online at a major univeristy who is using Canvas and Blackboard. There are several things they have right in the Canvas approach, and one is having more of the right stuff on one page.

For example: When you create a web page, the assets like images, etc that you might want to add to a page are in a column on the right. You can search the file structure there, find the asset and click on it and it's inserted into your flow. So much more convenient than the extra clicks needed going through the HTML editing bar.

Another example of everything on one page:  When I upload an assignment, and the teacher comments on it, you get a notice and clicking on the link in the notice it takes you back to the assignment page. On the right is a column with the teachers comments and you can respond to the teacher there and carry on an asynchronous conversation all within the context of the assignment on that page. A private conversation without clicks, all on one page.As an overarching design idea, fewer clicks and within reason more relevant stuff on one page is something I think most folks would find refreshing.

If this is possible in Moodle, I would love to know how. Don't get me wrong, I love using Moodle for a variety of other reasons, but the world is full of good ideas and this one promotes an ease of use in both areas.

 
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Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Plugin developersTesters

Canvas is indeed a well-thought-through product built from the ground up with the end user (instructor and student) in mind.  Their stated intent is to displace Blackboard as the King of North American LMSs.  They've recently gone open-source and having watched their discussion groups I can say that the community is pretty immature at this point.  They do have financial backing from a number of big names, including a group involving Eric Schmidt.

Its difficult to think in terms of making Moodle work like that, (PHP vs Rails, legacy vs brand new) but I still think actions taken upon your observations of how easy it works can contribute greatly to the ultimate success of Moodle.

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Plugin developers

Been addicted to the Canvas live demo - it makes moodle2 look like something designed in 1991 for netscape navigator.

I'm certain out tutors would prefer it to a standard moodle install, and the students would find it more usable too. The workflows and UI around creation of content lead to much better course design, and the IA activly encorages participation without having to find where/how to.

Hopefully setting up our own install this week and taking a peek under the hood.

Moodle could/should certainly learn from the UI,IA and user experience it provides.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

A brand new product... oh my! Might have a look at it myself. Good ideas are there for all to use, and over time, HTML5 technologies will improve everything I expect.   

 
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wen photo
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Core developers

Stuart did you get a chance to take a peek under the hood? Any thoughts or comments about their codes? Thanks!

 
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Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Plugin developersTesters

If you care for a gaggle of giggles, search for Canvas and Blackboard and you'll come up with Instructure's appearance at the Blackboard Conference and a lot of fun.

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Plugin developers

i like giggles, got a link Bob?

 
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Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Plugin developers

ha! 

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

That sort of cheekiness is a wonderful advertisment, good on them. Very good trick to play, but Blackboard's dev team would have been looking for ideas, and they probably found them. 

As for Canvas... its a toy.. right?

 
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Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Plugin developersTesters

No, I think not.  Instructure has backing from some very large, powerful investment groups who've already put their money down after the initial development of the product.  If you tried it out I don't think you would come to the conclusion that its a toy.  Whether they can dethrone BB in the commercial arena is only a very interesting question.

 
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Picture of Stuart Lamour
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Plugin developers

mmo i believe - or a choose your own adventure ;)

 
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King Crab Fishing in Norway
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 

I find Canvas to be a lot more intuitive than Moodle. I have been playing around with the demo and plan on setting up a Canvas test site. Our school has been using Moodle for the past 3 years (eclassroom before that). My teachers are not happy with some of the 'improvements' in Moodle 2.1, so I figured this is a good time to look for alternatives. I would be curious to hear from anyone else on the topic.

 
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Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Plugin developersTesters

I too find Canvas to be 'up-to-date' in its UI which is quite refreshing for a LMS.  I'd strongly recommend anyone looking seriously at Canvas to subscribe to the open-source user forums to get a feel for how much action is taking place in that arena (Canvas has only been released into open-source since this year) and also get a view into the kind of issues being experienced on installs and integration.  IMO, very promising and hopefully will continue to develop a vibrant community.

 
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King Crab Fishing in Norway
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 

As of right now there is not an easy way to transfer courses from Moodle to Canvas. I spoke with a representative from Canvas and they claimed that they could come up with a way if we became a comstomer, however, I would want to see this in action before even thinking about switching to a new LMS.

 
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Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Plugin developersTesters

The "open" LMS market appears to be opening up with announcements from:

  1. Instructure
  2. Pearson
  3. Coursekit
  4. others
As long-time Moodle users well know, there's no shortcut to maturity and so a bit of "wait and see" attitude is a good idea.  On the whole, all of what I've seen from these other offerings show a strong commitment to user experience... something I hope to see adopted by Moodle. 
In the mean time IMO, users of Moodle should be seriously considering whether they improve or diminish their position of offering the best possible open source LMS solution by going to 2.x or staying at 1.9.  Is the new functionality worth the pain of transition to an inferior file system and loss of stability and third-party development?
 
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King Crab Fishing in Norway
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 

I agree 100% Bob.

I have been using Moodle for just over 3 years, our school has used it for about 2.5 years. Hopefully some of the more intuitive functions of the other LMS options will filter down to Moodle. I would hope that the healthy competition (I'm optimistic) will only make Moodle stronger. I will love to be able to stay with Moodle as our LMS.

The biggest gripe I hear from teachers is that lack of a proper built in grading block. Our school(s) keep coursework open throughout the semester, so students can still turn late work. There should be a built in block (for the teachers) that lists all work that they need to manually grade. Even LMS systems that we used 8 years ago had this simple function. Instead we have to hunt for blocks that may or may not work with our current version of Moodle.

 
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King Crab Fishing in Norway
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 

I figured I would add an update since several things have happened since I originally posted this.

When I posted this comment above last year, a representative from Remote Learner (our hosting company) saw the post and contacted me through a support case in an attempt to solve Moodle's grading issues. They recommended using the Grade Me app, which they approved as a Golden Add-On (free to install). However, its a year later and the app still does not work with lessons and quizes.

One that works extremely well is the AJAX Marking block. However, since Remote Learner no longer lets their customers install blocks on their own (I had this access for over 3 years until they recently took away our root sftp access) I can't install this block.

In short; I am still frustrated with the Moodle's lack of a properly built-in grading tool. All other LMS systems I have worked in let you see all the work that needs to be graded in the course. 

 
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Picture of David Mark Weiss
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 

Why is the file system inferior? Stabilty has to improve over time, and why is there a loss of third party development?

We are having Moodlerooms host our version of Moodle, and honestly, there were only four items that are not currently available. There are so many improvements for us so far, the change is obvious. Also, they have written a conversion tool for converting our courses from 1.9 to 2.x and after our first attempt, it was flawless.

 
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Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Plugin developersTesters

See: http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=180865&parent=794982 for how I see the 2.x file system adding more grief than good to an already broken file handling system.

Stability SHOULD improve over time but doesn't have to.  If you were around when 1.6 became 1.7 you'll know of what I speak (I might also say that we didn't upgrade to 1.7 or 1.8, standing alone again in what was later recognized as a wise move).  Additional functionality with a steep cost in stability is a good deal less important to me and my constituents.  That is what we see in the 2.x.

I guess it all depends on what you're using as add-ons and how you position your LMS administration philosophy.  As an example, the Navigation block has replaced many functional add-ons but is an absolute landfill of a mess when you have some instructors who have up to twenty or more courses CURRENTLY ACTIVE because they're looking at last term, current term and next term and are administrators in addition to being instructors so numerous faculty sites must be continually available.  That's just one example.  There are many more.  

If somebody wanted to list out the improvements one gets by going to 2.x I'd hazard a guess they could all have been gotten in 1.9 with a lot less grief.

As a closer, if you're an admin, try restoring the course files for a course from a mirror server.  You know... something simple like sftping a group of files back to the moodledata area for a course because something disasterous or stupid happened.

 
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Picture of Richard Anderson
The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 

I'm an instructor teaching an online course in Canvas, as part of a pilot program to decide whether my institution will switch from Blackboard to Canvas. Canvas is a great idea. And as an idea, it's miles ahead of Blackboard. The problem is that there are topo many ways in which is simply does not work as designed. For a month now, the internal communication system is broken. The instructor can't send a message (Canvas calls them "conversations") to all of the students in the class. Only a subset of students will actually receive the message (in their Canvas inboxes). Users are supposed to be able to opt to be notified when soneone makes a reply to a "Discussions" topic that the user happens to have already replied to. This has not worked at all for nearly a month. And even if this function were working as designed, it still would not be adequate. For a graded discussion topic, for example, Canvas isn't designed to provide any way for the user to be notified of replies replies that happen BEFORE the user him or her self has replied. Likewise, in an ungraded discussion, if any user posts a new topic, there is no way for the user to be notified of any replies to his/her topic (unless the user has already replied to his/her own topic). Finally, the Canvas server is down very grequently (though usally for only a few ninutes at a time. So the lesson I'm learning is that Canvas could be a great product a few years down the road, but performs at the level of a Beta product. I haven't used Moodle, but I would imagine that it's a mature enough product so that it at least works.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Richard, all PHP apps are accident prone as, for me, the fundamental technology is far too complicated and pretty dodgy. I must admit, Moodle too has its moments, but compared to Blackboard, it is so far ahead of Blackboard, Moodle really does stand out for adaptability, flexibility, reliability, and now I am getting used to the new interface, (still sucks), there are definite advantages over v1.9. I am surprised that a any large organisation would do some sort of comparitive analysis of the various products and not include Moodle though. I have to doubt they are really serious and are just going through the motions already having made a decision, but I am tired and cynical right now smile . Blackboard is excellent on hype, short on detail and from my own experiences with it, rigid, fragile, expensive and not a good experience. I am a prosetelyzer for Moodle because, quite simply, after Blackboard, even Sakai would have been good..smile I have not tried Canvas, I have downloaded a copy but just not had time to get it up and running. However, I have to come back to my earlier comment, from your description it seems like a wanna be at this stage.    

Having said that, I would also suggest that all Open Source PHP Apps are developing products - and that includes Moodle.

 
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Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Plugin developersTesters

Just to clarify, Canvas is Ruby.

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

It is much easier to find hosting and support for PHP than for Ruby. There is not a great deal to choose between the different server side development tools providing the people who are doing it know what they are doing. 

 
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Picture of Mary Parke
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 

FWIW, I've been using Canvas for 2 months now - training faculty on it and supporting it on the administrative end. Canvas is honestly a breath of fresh air on its usability and user interface. Folks tend to get up and running on it much faster than even Moodle (said from my 6+ yrs of Moodle experience as an ID and sys admin). But (yes, there's a but) they're still growing on the enterprise level back-end support and sys admin and site admin menus. However, Canvas' team is really responsive. So there's hope there, too, with Canvas.

My biggest headache with Moodle 2.x is the whole file system management. Moodle 2.x had big plans for repositories and API integrations but IMO blew it on the usability aspect for the end user (and the admins supporting the repositories; and the native Moodle file management won't scale IMO for large universities - many things fraught with workarounds and complexities in trying to accommodate repository scaling). That's where Canvas got it right - the interface for file management, images, and linking is pretty darn slick and functional (that and the notifications system built in it for user profiles!).

As both systems are open source (to a degree with Canvas), hopefully more ideas will be shared across the systems.

If you are trying to host your own site, Moodle is more welcomed by managed hosts because of its infrastructure; Canvas runs on ROR and requires Gems installed that many 3rd party hosts won't install (yet!). If you run your own server, not a problem. But if you want to host, well...may take some time and negotiation to find the support for the ROR and Gems files.

I'm loving the user interface and usability of Canvas right now though! But on the flip side, there are some Moodle time-tested features that I'd like to also see in Canvas. If only we could blend the two - what would we have? (A MESS of code that doesn't work, LoL, but, if it were that simple....)

Thanks for sharing, all!

 
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Picture of John Fontaine
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 

Perhaps some of the user interface elements that you like could be ported over into Moodle blocks or custom themes.  You mentioned the file system and management interfaces.  Can you provide two or three things you think could be done to make Moodle file management more like what you like in Canvas?

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Particularly helpful Moodlers

Two years later: any update from anyone about anything to do with Canvas?

-Derek

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

AFAIK, Canvas has stuck with Linux and Ruby, not spreading into other server distros. Would have been nice to see it but won't run on a Windows box. That said, one of these days, I really gotta set up a Linux box... black eye

EDIT: I found it on the GitHub if anyone is interested...

https://github.com/instructure/canvas-lms/wiki/Quick-Start

scroll down a bit they offer a *.tar and a *.zip file. 

Further EDIT: The language they use to describe what the product is, what they need to run it and so on is right up there with the best of 'em. Jargonistic, clichéd, obscure, you name it, it's there. What a great read, the grammar nazis will love it too, written by real experts - people who really know what they are talking about. 

 
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Picture of Genya Kaplun
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 

Derek, I am doing the due diligence on both Moodle and Canvas at the moment to see which one our organization is going to use. I have two linux servers set up. One with Moodle and one with Canvas. Installs for both are very simple, takes a few more steps for Canvas but nothing major (their instructions on the github page are great), just couple additional steps to set up RoR and Ruby Gems. Canvas uses Psql so u need to set that up, which also requires couple more steps than MySQL, but you would have to do it for Moodle anyways if you decide to go with Psql (which you should).

In all honesty the clear winner right now is Canvas; UI, how simple it is for students and instructors, look and feel, really no comparison.    I am pretty sure we are going to go with Canvas.  Having said that, our needs are not as complex as they would be for a University or for an online school, so it could be that some more advanced features that Moodle has are missing from Canvas, I just haven't found any so far. Moodle does have a great selection of some pretty cool plugins that could serve needs more complex than ours.. I really cant speak for that.

On the whole, the sense that we are getting is that either system will get the job done and done well, but Canvas is just more modern, easier to use and configure and in general more pleasant to use.  If anyone is interested I can update once we go into full production and see how our chosen system fares in the real world (just using both for internal training now).

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

And there we have it.... 

   UI, how simple it is for students and instructors, look and feel, really no comparison

Simple and straightforward... The really complex stuff that Moodle does is really required by how many users? Why can that not be separate from core, a plugin and the common UI can be designed to be more simple - more intuitive. . 

Trying to do too much is worse than not doing enough. 

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Particularly helpful Moodlers

This link from the Inside Higher Education:

-Derek

PS1.  I'd usually have added a small quote about this, but I couldn't find something clear enough.

Colin was right with his comment "The language they use to describe what the product is, what they need to run it and so on is right up there with the best of 'em. Jargonistic, clichéd, obscure, you name it, it's there. What a great read, the grammar nazis will love it too, written by real experts - people who really know what they are talking about"

PS2.  I now have over 2400 posts since I signed up to every Canvas forum I could find (their comm,unity, google groups, LinkedIn) in July.  Interesting ecosystem to watch.
Thanks Genya for your comments.  Any update on your research?  
Over 10 posters on the Moodle/Canvas thing have now gone from Moodle.org.

I think Colin's quote "Trying to do too much is worse than not doing enough" is worth another consideration.  What does this mean?




 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

What I really mean is that some products are so heavily over-engineered that they are actually bloatware. A lot of products from MS and Adobe reach there now.  There are likely to fall over under their own weight any time.  

Some really good products have good cores and go and go, but because they do not develop, they just fade into the background or general noise never to be heard from again. 

Moodle is in danger of the first here, because it is trying real hard to be everything LMS to everybody, and doing too much. Not a good long term strategy I am thinking. What I am thinking is that to strike a happy medium, why not have a strong, bombproof core, then have a set of standard plugins that come with the core, and everything else is just a plugin. 

Lots of activities, some resources, some admin tools, some blocks, the entire quiz module, they could all be additional plugins downloaded as required. There may be several quiz plugins, each with its own question type, using a single quiz driver plugin. All they do is allow for editing question of that question type.  

A core Moodle may be little more than a theme, the database, user admin tools, course admin tools, and whatever other admin tools are felt necessary. You want a better theme, download it. You want a forum module, download it. 

The key to this would, I expect, be an internal plugin installer, something that writes to the Moodle tree and database from inside Moodle admin. Too many admins on hosted servers do not have access to their own code so this becomes essential. This installer is core, must be, and is seriously secure. 

That way, people can download what they want, giving them the Moodle they want, not the one that someone thinks they should have. Developers would not just be limited by what plugins are there, but would be encouraged to build new ones, redevelop older ones. I would think that third-party plugins standards would really need to lift as well - as would the testing before they are allowed to be downloaded even as candidates for the plugin download area. 

Anyway, that is what I am thinking - which I think would make Moodle a more user friendly product, capable of growing in whatever way the owners/stakeholders/admins/users want. 

I am also thinking that right now,  too many Devs are taking convergent positions and are just not looking at a longer term future. e.g. how long did it take to get a site designer just to  look at the front page? The front page is the same front page from 10 years ago, a designer needs to improve on that. Same with internal pages. Really some serious microsurgery needs to be performed even before the main plastic surgery can take place.  

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

I think your suggestions are quite similar to the general direction Moodle is going towards.

 
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Picture of dawn alderson
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 

Colin, hi

really nice ideas, innovative too.  I am going to respond in an overall manner as opposed to unpicking those neat points of yours.

Having spent some time chatting in the quiz forum see these two links:

https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=273047

https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=272324

I am left thinking this:

surely plugins ought to be developed out of 'need' to be precise 'pedagogical need'  so a good example of that is the quiz, we can all agree on that eh it is all there....embedded continuity and progression and so on.

It does, however, appear to me that some plugins are out there which are not driven in that way....now I could be wrong.  But this to me is the bloat....time consuming production that could be better placed with a focus on need.

How need is identified and action-ed in terms of moodle core=roadmap.

Really, this is the non-circular way forward in my opinion.

Cheers,

Dawn

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

FDR once remarked that "There are lots of ways to move forward, but only one of standing still." 

I suggest my perception of bloatware because it is my perception, who cares if it is right? The Roadmap is almost unintelligible these days, a minor statement that says practically nothing. But that is one of Derek's peeves, so I am not going there... 

I get a little nervous when people start tossing around terms like 'pedagogical need'. Who's pedagogical need? Yours, the local primary school in Bhutan? Would a rating tool that gauges "Happiness Index" or a quiz plugin designed to elicit that index from students be of any value in Swansea?   Anyway, that is not my point. 

People new to Moodle have little idea of what awaits them, the really fun part of using such a tool. But it is ugly - people tell me and I can't disagree.  Why? Surely looks account for something? Been around for along time, and I suggest that someone who used Moodle in 2005, and hasn't done so since, would still recognise the Front Page. That says to me that the cosmetics are being largely ignored. (I understand MD has engaged a designer to change this and I am sure some of the newer themes are going to reflect that. But why has it taken so long?) 

People new to Moodle though can sometimes get overwhelmed by the choices offered. They will try some of them and if they cannot fathom what is happening with that choice, they will stop using Moodle. One question recently asked about how the querent can reduce the choices available on the Activities/Resources dialogue for new teachers while allowing full access to continuing staff. Easy as.. btw... 

It is that word "choice" that seems to be driving a new paradigm of terror. Too much choice can cause some people to not make a choice. Others may make a choice but their range of choices will narrow. 

All I am suggesting is to create a new sort of Open Source software. A thin out-of-the-box tool capable rapidly expanding its own abilities with a minimum of fuss at the need, or choice, of the user. Decisions made at the end, not by programmers at the start.   

 I would also suggest that this might allow a great many more opportunities in how Moodle actually looks, but I really don't know how unless Moodle moves away from the manner of blocks and into scrolling menus or some such. But that is a separate issue.

  

 
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Picture of dawn alderson
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
 

Colin, Colin Colin smile

I must say I often laugh loudly when I read some of your posts-that is flattery by the way, you have a knack of using words and images in a very funny manner....

Anyway, an adult man to man chat now Col,

So, here goes.

When you quote: "There are lots of ways to move forward, but only one of standing still."  Yes, and circular movements are what eagles do-that is what you meant-right.  So, when you say: 

The Roadmap is almost unintelligible these days, a minor statement that says practically nothing. Well when Eagles circulate...they circulate outward.....so this is circle one.....

Next, when you say: I get a little nervous when people start tossing around terms like 'pedagogical need'. Who's pedagogical need?

 In general Colin, for a very long time, there has been this thing known as theory-informed-practice.....a lot of  teacher training courses run like that-I know it may not sound right...but that is what great teachers do-they inform their practice by theory and if they are Superb-Magnificent teachers they continue to inform their practice across their career- in making sound judgement about the latest research/theory-practice nexus surrounding learning. 

 If you think about it.....and reduce a learning and teaching episode down to its bare bones-what do you think happens?  I shall tell you.....it is about imparting knowledge to facilitate 'an' understanding.  Theories stemming from research support that or not, of course.

Now, if a tool, such as say....ummmm an IWB, Clickers, or LMS is designed with the same principles that teacher-training courses are built upon remember the goal=to impart knowledge for understanding-then it is not rocket science to realise that such tools can support best practice......there is always going to be a context-ace-card Colin...and I agree with you, but having just read something posted in  another forum....generic and specific tools are the type of thing I am talking about.  Yes in Bhutan or Swansea, it may be that teachers inform their practice by the latest research....and utilise generic tools that are fit-for purpose....others may use a whiteboard or clickers, specific tools, but at the end of the day....it is the teacher who will choose her/his tools based on what they know about teaching/pedagogical need and not whether the number 99 plugin on the list is worth a try...   

To sum up the rest of my response to your post, I would suggest looking at this link

https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=270130

as it clearly points out where Canvas are ahead of Moodle.....and yes Martin is in innovation mode-I think-well I know he plans to address roadmap in the next general dev meeting anyway.

D  



 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

... funny.. but a very simplistic response to some serious issues, I suspect. 

It is not about what knowledge I can impart it is about how can I generate sufficient interest in my students for them to want to learn? How can I encourage students to develop their knowledge and turn it into understanding? How can I lead students into applying their understanding in ways that benefits people around them? Sometimes that means direct intervention, sometimes that means standing back and just letting them go, chasing after them to make sure they don't stray too far. 

So who is to say what is best practice? Education is not a one-size-fits-all scenario, and as a teacher, I need to be as flexible as I can to be successful and utilize whatever tools I need. The decisions for those tools though, should be made by me, not a programmer in the bowels of a building in Seattle, or Chicago, or Perth. Offer me the tool, if I can use it, I will, if I can't then I won't. I don't want my interface clogged up with rubbish I am never going to use. But that should not stop Dawn who works halfway around the world from using a different set of tools altogether to achieve the same ends as me - that is my point.     



 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Particularly helpful Moodlers

@Genya.
Yes, I'm interested.  How is it going?

-Derek

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Particularly helpful Moodlers

I've just noticed Genya has gone from Moodle.org, she has not replied, and is probably dabbling in Canvas.

There are two posts on the eLiterate Blog with comments about Canvas:

  1. http://mfeldstein.com/state-of-the-us-higher-education-lms-market-2015-edition/
    Moodle plateau, Canvas growing
  2. http://mfeldstein.com/instructure-files-for-ipo/
    Instructure in IPO

The other thing that was interesting to me is the continued effort canvas has made to stay in touch with users, their likes and dislikes.

eg http://blog.canvaslms.com/what-do-you-like-about-canvas#sthash.tC2Ni3yx.dpbs

I think this is something that Moodle could learn from.  There are an increasing number of posts on Moodle forums that amount to "Fix the user" with a little less reflective listening - or else there is just silence.  

This is an older post from July on eLiterate: http://mfeldstein.com/instructure-is-truly-anamalous/

Beyond the numerical mystery, there seems to have been a change in market attitudes about LMS migration. Schools seem to be willing to look at alternatives even when they don’t have to. Nobody likes to migrate, of course, but a variety of factors, ranging from improved standards that make moving content easier to more technology maturity and experience among university faculty and staff, have reduced vendor lock-in. It’s a more fluid market now. I had hoped that would be the case someday but, in my heart of hearts, I really didn’t expect it. And at the moment, pretty much all of that new fluidity is flowing into Instructure—at least in US higher education.

Overall, Instructure’s growth is hard to explain. 

Interesting.

-Derek

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Yes Derek, 

"There are an increasing number of posts on Moodle forums that amount to "Fix the user" with a little less reflective listening - or else there is just silence."

I have to agree. It also seems more and more code is being devoted to controlling user inputs, particularly design inputs, than is necessary.  You only have to look at Atto to see it. Where is the excitement, the growth, the challenge for the Devs, now more than a few seem too busy controlling things rather than pushing things?  

There has to be a way of redesigning the UI to make it more intuitive, more user relaxed, without compounding or extending current intractabilities. I suggest this is the major problem for Moodle, it needs to improve its look, its feel. Its too stodgy. Some things can be simplified, like creating and using question banks, without sacrificing flexibility or capability. Some things can be improved, like LTI and the range of external tools accessible. 

 

 
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Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

I agree generally  though the Question bank and Quiz creation seems to have moved on leaps and bounds in the last few releases. I rarely hear anyone say "Moodle is lacking in features", but I do hear people say it is too complex/unfriendly. (Of course they are utterly wrong in this and need to buck their ideas up smile*

Word from HQ seems to be a focus on improving the UI, and the split of developers between front and back end seems like a very good idea. Plus they were recruiting a UI designer not so long ago.

*(Example of fix the user?)


 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

And as for Ruby on Rails... https://devhumor.com/media/the-popularity-of-ruby-seemed-out-of-place-for-a-moment

I don't know about the cartoon, but it seems to have lost a lot of momentum. 

https://www.quora.com/Do-ruby-on-rails-developers-get-paid-more-than-other-language-developers

So if Canvas is serious... I must wonder what is going on. 

These are not always reliable counters but usually there is a strong connection between demand-growth-income.   

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Particularly helpful Moodlers

Some movements to canvas are more significant than others.

Stanford moves to Canvas:

https://vptl.stanford.edu/digital-learning-environments

Again, here: https://web.stanford.edu/group/canvas/discovery/

A real and concerted effort to stay in touch with the users.

Users matter??

"Don't ask us, ask our users" Canvas speaking here: https://www.canvaslms.com/higher-education/


-Derek



 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: The problem with Canvas -- Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

I am fairly skeptical about self promotion of statistical data a company has gathered as part of a glitzy, appallingly designed and presented whiz-bang add for their own product. 

However, let's say it is true, this is no different to any other first gen product being replaced by a second gen product. What is displaced? Probably Blackboard given Moodle's overall relatively poor performance in the US. Or is that given Moodle's great performance and ... oh I dunno.... One read says Moodle is #1 around the world, but doesn't rate a mention in the US.... why is that? Or have I been given dummy information? Or is Canvas single-handedly saving Ruby? 

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Particularly helpful Moodlers

A web page detailing why one organisation chose Canvas: http://www.csa.edu.au/resources/business-links/canvas-by-instructure

Could have been written by Canvas.  smile

-Derek

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Core developersDocumentation writersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developers

Of course they did. Google a key phrase, and find other similar press releases on their own web site.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=%22Instructure%2C+Inc.+developed+the+Canvas+learning+management+system+to+make+teaching+and+learning+easier+for+everyone%2C+everywhere.%22

I would not be suprised if some of the big Moodle partners did the same when they got a big contract. It seems to be common practice in the IT industry. So, you get a big fanfare when someone signs a big new contract. What you never hear is when three years later, the expensive new contract has delivered minimal benefits to anyone (other than the vendor's bank balance). Strangely people are less inclined to put out press releases at that point wink

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: One way Canvas has it right.
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

There are a raft of reasons why the CSA would chose Canvas, which are mainly related to Canvas' self promotional opportunism than anything else I suspect. However, considering "it integrates in a very natural way with tools such as Youtube, Wordpress and Dropbox." all tools educational authorities are denying us access to anyway, it all becomes somewhat questionable. Although, Moodle could do better here, and try to improve the LTI connectivity with Wordpress anyway. Another thing that needs be polished a little I expect....  

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: One way Canvas has it right. (Off topic)
Particularly helpful Moodlers

Good thoughts Tim and Colin.

Just came across this again yesterday:

A small video we did to try to encourage Student engagement with the Bb vs Moodle decision before Cnvas was even on the scene.


How they let this video happen is still a mystery to me, which goes to show what you can get when you unleash creativity.

-Derek

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: One way Canvas has it right. (Off topic)
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

Derek.... at one level..hahahahahahaaaaa!!!!! very interesting

At another level, you're right, how on earth they let this get through... wow I think someone may have made a questionable choice. 

However, there is a couple of points that really hit home, particularly about outcomes, usability and the essential longevity of a product. We have all seen things come in a huge rush and disappear even more quickly. So how can we make sure that Moodle can reinvent itself often enough so it can remain current? Any good product will always be in demand, as long as it is seen as being "current", whatever that means - or perhaps that should be as long as it is not seen as being an Edsell...   

I understand UC went with Moodle... but is there any documentation about why? 

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: One way Canvas has it right. (Off topic)
Particularly helpful Moodlers

Sorry Colin, I missed this post.

Yes, UC did go with Moodle, mainly because it was a choice of Bb or Moodle.  We did a semester of trials, setting up a server and teaching some real courses, so we had a group of lecturers who knew Bb (as it was at the time) and had a chance to teach via Moodle.  We also had the benefit of two world class PHP coders who did a few tweaks.  The first thing we fixed was the scroll of death, foibles about enrolments, self signup for groups, concatenation of news feeds if I recall correctly.

I've now been away from the UC for several years, and the documentation is way out of date now.

"Reinvent to remain current" Interesting comment.  A constant issue, and the jury is out on this one for more than one LMS.

It will be interesting to see what the new year brings.

-Derek


 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: One way Canvas has it right. (Off topic)
Documentation writersParticularly helpful Moodlers

mm no worries... 

One of the reasons Microsoft has had such a run with Windows has been because every issue since XP has had a completely different look about it - even though you can revert to what you are used to. 

Just been looking at the Bootstrap site that Mary Evans has put up  and wow!!!! That is what I am talking about. Moodle has always been stodgy, but workable, and with Bootstrap themes, it is going to be looking good and workable, something only ever dreamed about before.   

The issues you have been discussing, will still be there, but with less concern about looks and more emphasis on reliability, adaptability and flexibility should make Moodle over into a product that will see us through to 2020. As new standards prevail, then most of the issues raised will be done away with, I hope. 

Cheers

 
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