[Edit: Richard Oelmann - Discussion split from https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=253429#p1100978 in order to carry on a useful discussion separate from that initial thread]
For the risk of going completely off topic, I want to add my subtle rant to this topic.
The issue here is not Moodle, it is bad admin setup.
It is often said that Moodle's strength, and weakness, is its range of features. The strength is that it allows us to customise the system and courses to exactly what we want. The weakness is the confusion. So why am I blaming Admin? Here is why.
Moodle provides numerous areas where Admins can enable/disable functionality as well as setting defaults.
No organisation uses all the features. Why have them all on? The admin should customise the site to the needs of the organisation. How can we do this. Some examples are below:
- Disable/enable plugins based on what you need moodle to do.
Blocks can be culled very easily. As can many other plugin types.
- Set defaults
Plugins as well as course settings can have default settings. Don't force educators to have to change numerous options every time they create. Find what 80% plus use and set the defaults to that level. This is very useful at the course default level
- Customise your plugin settings
Many plugins in Moodle allow you to "hide" settings in the "show advanced" toggle. Not removing them completely, but removing them from the initial view. This enables power users but makes things far less confusing for beginners
- Create custom permissions
Another way of limiting how many options appear to a user is to change/create custom permissions. Most organisations don't fit into the seven standard Moodle roles. And why should they? Every organisation is different. Customise moodle's feature set based on the real world roles your organisation has.
- Create course templates
Now personally I hate the idea of course templates. I find template based courses are forced to make too many assumptions around how a course should be delivered. That being said, to many new users who don't know where to start, this can be a god send. (P.S. course templates are a simple use of Moodle's backup/restore function)
- Create a help course
This is so obvious and yet done by only 10% of sites I come across. Support your educators! It is a simple idea isn't it. You don't even have to make all the content yourself. At the lowest level link to relevant Moodle docs. Check out the how to's on the Moodle YouTube channel. But you should do MORE than that. Invest some time every week to create your own videos and documentation. Don't magically expect your users to magically absorb information from the Knowledge Unicorn as it flies past dropping sugary sweet candies of perfection and best practice as your educators sit in front of their screens of satisfaction. It just doesn't happen!
- Invest in PD
Another contentious statement. What? Moodle is free you say? Hell no! N system is free. Even if you are not paying for the software you need to invest in support. Training. Don't invest and expect no uptake!
I could go on...and I will in my next blog post. But in short, it is easy to blame a system for all your woes. Moodle IS complex. it IS detailed and it IS full of settings. But only as far as you want it to be.
Are you an Admin and never thought about any of this before? That is why YOU should be the first to be upskilled. How can YOU be responsible for a system YOU don't understand? Don't know how your educators are/should be using Moodle? Find out? Speak to them. Get involved in the process. My closing point is that being a Moodle administrator is NOT a technical role. It is just as heavily focused in understanding the pedagogy/andragogy of its intended application as much as the LDAP and security settings.
End of rant
(Edited by Richard Oelmann - original submission Sunday, 9 February 2014, 10:58 PM)