The next big step in what I'm doing will be this presentation at Moodlemoot'AU 2015. Associated with that presentation is a Moodle course. The plan is that some initial discussions will take place in that course and then migrate to another venue.
In preparation for that presentation I'm currently retrieving and analysing any mentioned of the Book module in the English language Moodle Community forums. The aim is to identify what people have said about the Book module over the years. In particular, the type of bugs, complaints, and feature requests they've mentioned.
The plan is to try to identify categories of potential feature requests and use those to spark further suggestions and discussions around the presentation.
If necessary, I'll be adding my own ideas. However, even a cursory glance at the previous discussions suggest that most have been thought of at some stage.
I've currently got 1400 posts that mention "book module". That seems a very round number suggesting that it's not all the posts, just the limit on the forum search. Hence I need to refine this a bit more.
An obvious other source of ideas will be other tools and systems that you and Natalie have pointed to. I'll be looking at those as well.
Some possibilities and a fine line
The spark for this work is scratching my own itches. I use the Moodle book fairly heavily and would like that process to be more straight forward and have some additional functionality.
At the same time, I'm a little leery of a few fine lines to be tread. For example
- If more functionality around interaction is added to the Book module, when does it become the Lesson module?
- Is the goal of the Book module to be yet another authoring/publishing tool?
Another reason for looking at past community discussions around the Book module is to gain some insights into these types of questions.
The added functionality that's on my personal list are
- Fixes to the import function.
This is one where I've already contributed a patch to Tracker.
- Implement a search functionality.
It appears that something along the lines of the forum search function could be implemented easily enough. Questions remain about impact. But the need is certaintly there.
- Produce an ePub (or other eBook) format.
This is one that's been mentioned previously in the Moodle community forums. My initial idea here is that it would be possible to create an "ebook" out of all (or selected) books in a course.
It's an idea with issues, but also some benefits. Especially in terms of the project funding this work.
- Enable use of github (or similar) as a source of content/version control.
As an option be able to save and load the content of a Book to/from github. The aim here is to open up the content. Open for others to use, but also open to be more easily created/maintained using other authoring tools.
One of my current thoughts is to avoid putting lots of authoring functionality into the Book module, but rather enable the use of other existing tools and the integration of that content.
Some more tentative ideas include
- Better learning analytics.
For both student and teacher. More insights into how people are working through the books, where they are up to etc.
- Identifying context specific information.
This is linked to the idea of "openness" and the Reusability Paradox. In books for my course there will be very context specific information (e.g. an assignment due date) that doesn't make sense in a new context. A new context might even be as simple as the next offering of the same course (where the assignment due date will be different). A problem with reusing content in different contexts is knowing what is contextually specific and what isn't.