Comparisons and advocacy

Just finished an 8-week course as a student...

Picture of Cris Fuhrman
Just finished an 8-week course as a student...

There are lots of really cool things I did in my course with Many of the things (rubrics) seemed almost exactly like Moodle, but other things perhaps could be considered for Moodle (even if there aren't thousands of students or millions of $ invested):

  • Anonymous peer-grading was very interesting. We all had rubrics on the assignments, and grading had to be done according to them. To get credit for an assignment, we had to grade 4 of our peers. The grade was the average of all the peers' grades. Evaluation was double-blind.
  • Much of the web site's ("static pages") content was on a wiki, so probably easier to configure than through traditional Moodle, but perhaps not backed up as an instance of a course. Students could contribute to wiki sections, and that was cool (people contributed bibliographies of related stuff for courses, indices of hyperlinks in videos, subtitles in different languages, etc.)
  • When you post in forums, you are automatically subscribed to the THREAD and not the whole forum wink
  • Despite being a software design (coding!) course, there were essay questions based on Bloom's taxonomy. Very interesting!
  • Coursera is not without its bugs - for example, built-in spell-checking (e.g. in Chrome) was not working due to the JavaScript editor used for the essay questions, the calendar for assignment feature didn't work until about 4 weeks ago, etc. Moodle seems to excel on these points. 

In short, I have a new appreciation of how I could use Moodle in my classes now that I went through the MOOC as a student. 

Does anyone know if Coursera used Moodle code in its product? Many of the features seem very similar (especially online quizzes).

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Picture of Elizabeth Dalton
Re: Just finished an 8-week course as a student...
Core developersMoodle HQParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

Online quizzes are pretty similar across many platforms.

I strongly agree with the need for anonymous peer-grading in Moodle. The closest we have at this point is the Workshop module, but it expects all students to participate in lock-step mode, not allowing anyone to grade until everyone has submitted. This makes using it with large groups very difficult. The Workshop module doesn't even allow self-evaluation until everyone has submitted and the Workshop has moved into the grading phase. sad

Ditto with the need to subscribe to a THREAD, rather than the whole forum.

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Just wondering . . .
Re: Just finished an 8-week course as a student...

You say: "Online quizzes are pretty similar across many platforms."

I'm not convinced of this Elizabeth.

Moodle has it's strengths and low points.  I've seen some that look a lot better in the sitting, and have a better workflow in the grading.  For instance in Moodle you can't grade a single quiz without clicking in very question.  ON the other hand there are some great question types.  But I've also seen quizzes with much better page layout, next etc with much better use of the screen.

my 2c worth


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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Just finished an 8-week course as a student...
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

Based on this link

I don't think Coursera uses any Moodle code

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Picture of Cris Fuhrman
Re: Just finished an 8-week course as a student...

Hi Marcus,

That's an interesting article (although I dislike quora's privacy policy!). 

What I liked best was "Our end goal is to completely deprecate and remove the PHP stack and move to a service oriented architecture."

I think the same thing would be great for Moodle.

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Just wondering . . .
Re: Just finished an 8-week course as a student...

I'm now involved with my 4th or 6th MOOC (depending on your definition)

As a result (in Nellie's Moodle MOOC) I've been asking what the minimum functionality is needed for a platform to enable a MOOC to go smoothly without causing grief for the participants and overwork for the facilitators.

I think these are some of the features:

  1. Member management.  Enrolment, self sign up for groups, a system to give the right level of access.
    News for facilitators of new arrivals, first posters, etc.
  2. Groups: Ability to have self organising/self organised groups, SIG's and breakout groups.
  3. ONE stream of information that is definitive on the events and activities.
  4. ONE place for the plan for the MOOC.
  5. Excellent content delivery: media, real time sessions, replay of sessions.
  6. A great system for sharing ideas and resources.  Tagging would be great: a bunch of official tags, and user generated ones is idea.
  7. Some sort of information management system like "Important notices", from your group, and other . . .  and "Read it later" - a personal tagging option.

Nice to have: good identity management (profiles, messaging, interest tags, follow).  Maybe an "Ask me about . ." if person X has special interests.

Some sort of voting, like, rating system.  Some sort of REDIT button.  "Nothing to say but yes, I redit"

Google maps to show where people are.

Help with timezone management.

+ ??

Design elements that I think are essential

  1. HELP: One place for help/questions, and people able to manage FAQ etc.
  2. SOCIALISING: One place for socialising, introductions etc
  3. REFLECTION: At least one place for reflections/feedback.  Could include RSS for blogs, a forum or blogs in the course environment.
  4. THE WORK: Many places as appropriate for tasks, work.
    - and ideally a way to move conversations from place to place.
  5. System for welcoming latecomers.
  6. System for catching up those who go MIA and don't wave for help
  7. ??


  1. Managed buddy system.
  2. Badges for "Helpers"
  3. Some good progress system to enable participants to know where they are at . . .
  4. ??

JUst thinking aloud.


PS, @elizabeth vote for


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Picture of Cris Fuhrman
Re: Just finished an 8-week course as a student...

PS, @elizabeth vote for

Wow. The date that was first requested was 08/Jul/2004 5:38 AM! It's marked "critical" now... 

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Just wondering . . .
Re: Just finished an 8-week course as a student...

I think Cris this was originally a philosophical decision around the design of a collaborative environment and was regarded as a feature, not a bug.

If you have people merely following what they want to follow, they are not in touch with the community and being collaborative.  Sort of breaks down with 3,000,000 subscribers.


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Picture of Cris Fuhrman
Re: Just finished an 8-week course as a student...

I see your point, Derek. I'm not sure it's possible to philosophically architect features in software because it takes vision that even the best aren't able to realize.

I think sometimes it's best to provide the basic stuff, see how it gets used, and build upon that experience. Microsoft is great at providing all kinds of features with some philosophical vision that are almost never used by the majority of users. They could do it because they were the only player.

Google, on the other hand, shoots for basic functionality (few bells and whistles, but a focus on what's truly important) and builds on it. I think the latter strategy is better for software design. 

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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Just finished an 8-week course as a student...
Documentation writersParticularly helpful MoodlersTesters

<span class="rant" style="deep_breath">

"the latter strategy is better for software design"  Seriously?

Nah, I am not so sure, I am not sure that there is any optimal way to design software except in response to user demand via an open community. Software, an OS, should only be designed for programmers to use as a starting point. Anything more than that is bloatware.

Microsoft fill their programs with rubbish few actually use. I suspect mainly because there are much better tools out there, but also, if people have no need to use them, they won't - and will never consider their existance. I use Word and Excell, but nothing else in Office. For me, it is actually bloatware my employer provides me with via their laptops. For everything else I need, I use tools that are better than their MS equivalent or are not part of anything MS.

Google supplying "basic functionality" is probably a step in the right direction. Allowing others to build more via the Android community is a much better approach - but as long as Google does not try to outsmart itself like Microsoft has and tries to add "too much" functionality to Android.  Leave that to the community.

My suspicion is that what is going to kill Apple is already working its way into Microsoft, and neither of them are going to be able to really compete with Google - eventually. The "i-" phenomenon will collapse for the very reason you give here - basic functionality v bloatware. We do not have to take anything we don't want.  

I am thinking here of the iPhone app you can use to turn your iphone into a harmonica. It is completely useless, unless you are a harmonica player, but just brilliant. You have a choice to download it and it is that choice which will kill proprietal bloatware.

Where is the architecture here? Where is the planning and design? What possible philosophy, other than self indulgence, could have led someone to write such an app? But that is, I suggest, the direction that computing will go and all those big, stuffy, highly uncompetitive bloatware producers are going to collapse; not for a decade or two but once they start, nothing will save them.   


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