Greetings. If this is the wrong use of this forum, then accept my apology in advance and advise me how to proceed.
I am and educator and programmer and have been tasked with finding grading tools for my school. After several months of frustrating searches, I am now seriously considering initiating a new open source gradebook project. The main purpose of this new gradebook would be to provide a very easy interface for teachers as well as act like communication glue between Moodle, a school's SIS, and parents and other concerned parties (form parents in my case).
Since the main motivation for me and the main difference of this gradebook from all other gradebooks out there is the connection to Moodle, I wanted to get some feedback from people in this forum before proceeding very far.
Let me start with my assumptions which are motivating me (you are free to agree or disagree with these):
- There are a number of features that I (and I believe others) feel need to be available in the Moodle gradebook - especially for K-12 schools - before our teachers will really make use of it. (primarily in ease of use and communication with parents)
- Also, not every teacher (at least in my school) is creating a Moodle course for every subject they teach and I am not sure I want to require them to do so just to have gradebook uniformity. (And, even teachers with a Moodle course may have graded material that is not connected to Moodle and creating an assignment in Moodle just to keep grades together can be cumbersome to say the least.)
- Currently most gradebook programs - online or offline - do not seem to connect to grades inside Moodle (or other LMS for that matter unless the company has their own commercial LMS). FocusSIS seems to be about the only company doing this well currently and I applaud their work. We still might just adopt their SIS and gradebook.
My thought is to develop a new open-source gradebook program (web-based) that is fully connected to the Moodle Gradebook (and potentially to other LMS's in the future), but can also work independently of Moodle.
The main features that this gradebook would have that are not currently in the Moodle system would be as follows:
- Providing easier hooks to integrate the Moodle grades to an SIS - Student Information System. (At least an easy way to move final or periodic grades to another system.)
- Ability to PUSH progress reports to parents via email and/or provide an easier interface for parents to view student progress online than is currently possible inside Moodle.
In general, I would like to create a very easy-to-use gradebook, much like many that are currently being developed (jupitergrades, engrade, activegrade, etc. - the list is long). Many of these products are quite nice, but they all have at least one fatal flaw for our adoption and that is that they don't seem to have any convenient way to interface with Moodle or any other LMS and that does not seem to be a priority for any of the companies I have written to. Most of them also do not really integrate seamlessly to an SIS either unless they have their own. (Yes. I know that I could just work on writing some export queries and push my Moodle data over to one of these gradebooks, but they don't make it as easy as I would like and it would not be very live.)
Another thing about all of these nice gradebooks is that even though some are free, none of the good ones are open-source. The only open-source gradebooks I have seen are pretty poor and do not seem to have active work. I think it would be nice to have a solid opensource gradebook to complement the opensource work of Moodle.
I would love to be corrected on any of these points. If there is really a good existing solution out there (a product or a plugin for Moodle or a series of good steps or ????), please point me to it. But, if there is not, let me know if this is a felt need for any other schools and let me know if anyone would be interested in working with me on this. I have started trying to map out a data structure that would work well with Moodle, but be extensible to other systems and to allow flexibility beyond Moodle including Standards Based Grading, easy Rubrics, etc. (I know that Moodle already does have some of that with Outcomes and Rubric modules. I don't want to reinvent anything unecessarily, but I do want to extend things and ESPECIALLY make them easier for K-12 teachers.)