Courses and course formats

Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format

 
 
Picture of Chris Kenniburg
Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

We are hopefully 4-6 weeks away (sometime in May) from securing funds to develop a new Social Course Format that closely resembles the ease of use of Facebook or Edmodo.com.  We have a Moodle Partner that we are in talks with to develop this project.  We also have been in discussions at length about features and ideas on this new social course format.  

We are soliciting community ideas and thoughts that might help us develop a more complete product. 

Here is the initial job posting we made over 2 years ago with some of our initial thoughts: https://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?d=54&rid=5607&filter=1

This has been a long time coming but we feel we are very close to finally getting the funds to undertake such a project.  

Please share your thoughts as we plan to give this back to the community when complete.

Our ultimate goal would be to develop something that could be refactored into the core as a possible forum/social upgrade.

If you have funds and would also like to be a part of this please contact me directly and I can share more specific details-

Chris Kenniburg kennibc@dearbornschools.org

About us:

I am just a web guy from Dearborn, Michigan and I have a very tech savvy partner named Bryan Smith who is a database/system guru out of the Lansing area.  The two of us have banded together a group of dedicated Moodle users from across the state at various K-12 levels to try and make Moodle the best solution for blended learning.  We helped fund the dev of the Etherpad plugin (needs work now...sorry) as well as setup a statewide Michigan Moodle Hub for sharing courses.  Our roadmap is as follows: Almost every single county in Michigan supports Moodle for all their teachers.  The Moodle Hub will provide us with a means to distribute activities, quizzes, etc to the masses.  Right now we need the masses in using Moodle.  To do that we need an easy-to-use and familiar user experience to alleviate any concerns a beginning blended learning teacher may have.  Facebook/edmodo are something that all of the students and teachers are comfortable with and there is not a big learning curve to get started. That is why we think this is mission critical.  

 
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Picture of Bryan Smith
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
 

Thanks for posting this Chris.

Quick user adoption is going to be an important value for everyone in the K-12 setting.

 
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Picture of Jez H
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Difficult to comment without more detail but this looks kind of in line with work being done at Sussex University:

http://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/elearningteam/

this post in particular:

http://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/elearningteam/2013/10/21/making-moodle-more-engaging-by-rethinking-the-display-of-content/

It would be worth soliciting their opinion and finding out what else they maybe working on.

personally i think a stand alone wall is of limited value if that is what you had in mind?

it would be nice to have expandable content areas like those shown above to make it more flexible / useful.

another idea would be to create a block capable of linking out to activities. The scroll of death should fit in the sidebar with judicious naming of activities :p

that way you could make the wall the central focus of the course, mix in other forms of content (video, images etc) in the main content area and still have full access to activities if you needed them.

 
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Picture of Chris Kenniburg
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Thanks Jez H for your reply.

Here are some of the specifics of the project.

It is a course format - just like topic or weekly.  This is not a new activity or something like that.  It takes over your entire course layout and is a combination of new Activities, permissions, filters, blocks and features.  You should be able to switch from Topic format to our new Social and back again.  You will still be able to add standard moodle activities and they will be integrated into the timeline.  So if you add an assignment, it will automatically be added to the timeline as well as a special new Block to quickly find activities within the new social format.

  • New Timeline of Activities, posts, likes, comments
  • Ability to post new items to the timeline.  Ability to specify groups to post to.
  • Drag and Drop files into post and have them attached to the post.
  • Post section is text only.  No html editor.
  • Ability to filter the timeline by date, activity type, etc.
  • Special Block for displaying all Moodle Activities such as assignments, quizzes, wikis, workshops, etc.
  • By default only 5 comments are shown per post but can click to display all comments.
  • Ability and Setting to allow student posting.
  • If a gradable item such as Assignment is added, the posting will display a grade for the student when completed.  For assignment it will also display teacher feedback.
  • Bottom of page will have a button to display more timeline events which load via Ajax.
  • Teacher can make a post sticky and stay at top of timeline.
  • Ability to lock commenting as well as private commenting.
  • Notifications - None, per post, and Digest formats.
  • Convert URL's to show photo and link summary.  Similar to facebook.
 
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Picture of Jez H
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Wow, sounds like a monster! I think you have it really well covered.

With this kind of approach you have to try and keep a balance between what is current (now) and what is important so things like "sticky posts" and the block for activities are a really good idea.

You mention activities but what about "resources" as in files, page etc in Moodle? Do you plan on adding those to a block or is the plan to share everything through posts / attachments?

I have to say the losing the text editor is a bit of a pain as you lose access to repositories and other useful plugins like PooDLL Anywhere (puts a voice recorder into the text editor) but I can see why you would want / need to go plain text.

Do you have any docs / screen shots / sketches you could share on this?

Thanks, Jez

 
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Picture of Chris Kenniburg
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

You will still be able to drag and drop files and media into the timeline postings.  

I would imagine instead of dragging and dropping files you would be able to double click and open the file/repository browser window. 

The main idea behind this format is that it is quick snippets of information for quick communication.  As I was thinking of your suggestion we did not cover how resources would be handled.  Do you have any thoughts on this?  I think the book and pages might be most useful and would like to see those included.  I would imagine resources could be handled the same way as activities.

The HTML editor removal is by design.  We don't want the page to be cluttered with Heading1's and color changes or have images and stuff embedded into the posts.  Just text.  Any images or other elements could be linked to or dropped in as an attachment.

 
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Picture of Jez H
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I can see the sense of removing the html editor for this, it was really the ability to hook repositories and other extensions in that it would be good to maintain.

Regards resources, I think perhaps a block for those too but one that is selective.

It maybe that you want some resources to slip down the timeline, but others you may want to maintain links to. I think if you added every resource to a block it would be a mess. Having the ability to selectively add a small number of important docs could be useful.

Also you mentioned "sticky" posts, if activities and resources were to appear on the same timeline would there be any way to make those sticky too?

I think I may be envisaging this being used a little differently to yourself. That is a full blown course (in a University) with all the depth of information that entails but with discussion at the heart of the course rather than it being "just another link" in a list of links.

 
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Gareth J Barnard
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Chris,

Sounds like an interesting and challenging project!  I look forward to see how it goes.

In using Facebook I noticed that it still suffers from the 'scroll of death' but has fixed 'blocks', will your format overcome this through clever use of compacting / grids?

Is the format in reality applying very creative filtering to reduce the content down to what exactly the student needs to use?

For fixed posts etc.  There is some code that has been pending for the last eleven years in MDL-372 which you may wish to use.  Also, look at the Noticeboard format for a snippet of code in placing the news forum at the top for announcements with a limited number of posts showing.  I know they are not the whole story but may come in handy.

Cheers,

Gareth

 
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Picture of Chris Kenniburg
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Gareth,

There will be a "show more" button at the bottom of the page which will display the next 10 postings.  As for the blocks staying onscreen I think that would be more of a theming issue rather than the course format.  However, we should be aware of this and maybe ensure that the plugins and course format add the proper tags so that someone can properly style the elements of the page.  It could be as simple as adding some css snippets in the "Custom HTML" option a few themes offer.  This way it would not affect topic or weekly formatted courses.

Just a note - this new course format will still allow you to get organized and structured discussions via traditional forums.  Traditional forums can be added just like any other activity and would be added to the new activity block that would be created.

Our new course format just changes how the frontpage of the course looks and operates/functions.  You still will have access to all the other tools that make Moodle great.

 

 
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Picture of Emma Richardson
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

This would be a hugely beneficial addition to Moodle and, with the new looks coming out with the bootstrap themes, I could see where we could really give Edmodo a run for their money!  

 

 
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Picture of Robert Maxwell
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
 

Just saw your post.  One of the things we are working on is grading(completion) automation for low stakes writing.  Having options where word count and keywords could be used in activity completion would be helpful.  Another thing would be the ability to analyze the learning community through social network analysis.

 
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Picture of Chris Kenniburg
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

We just got final approval for funding on this project.  We will be working with a Moodle Partner to get this project rolling.

It is going to happen.  Can't wait to make this a reality.  

A major thanks to the Michigan REMC organization for fully funding the development of a new "social" Moodle course format!  http://www.remc.org/


 
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Picture of Anthony Buza
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
 

Chris,

It would be great if the social features would allow you to post messages to a single student/person, small group, entire class or multiple classes.

Very excited for this project.

 
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Picture of Chris Kenniburg
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Anthony,

I am pretty sure in a single course you could filter by student or groups that you have students enrolled in at the course level.   

It would be nice if on the My Dashboard page a user would possibly see latest/unread posts below the course listing.  It would also be nice if replying could be done right there too!

I am not sure how this will all interact at a main site level.  The initial though on this was that it was only a highly specialized course format no different than topic or weekly.  

Please keep these good ideas coming as we will be meeting with a project manager sometime in June to get the party started!

 
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Frankie's the name, Moodle's my game!
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Going great guns, Chris! Well done and here's to the coming fruit of the labors.

 
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Picture of Jez H
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Thats great, you have some really good ideas wrapped up in this, hope it all goesd smoothly for you!

 
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Picture of Pete Potter
Re: Moodle Facebook/Social Course Format
 

Wow some great feedback on here already!

Really looking forward to this Chris wink

 
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