Like you (and probably many others) I use Moodle to teach a number of classes which share a certain amount of "material". The more I use Moodle, the more I am finding it tedious and really a waste of time and storage space to have to duplicate activities and resources throught my courses.
At the moment we have a number of solutions for sharing materials
betwwen courses & students, none of which really answers our
problem. Let me review them.
This answers some administrative problems by facilitating enrollment of a number of "classes" following different courses into a common meta course. However, it does not answer the question of automatically enrolling the students constituting a "class" into a large number of courses. For this, using the meta course option "in reverse" has been suggested here.
At the moment, the group option is not very useful for our problem, because it is not possible to allocate resources and activities to one particular group within a course, except forum discussions. There is also the question of enrollment, which would not work.
Quiz questions "publishing"
When creating quiz questions, a teacher is given the option of publishing those site-wide. This option would be useful to me if I could publish my questions not site-wide but teacher-wide. And quizes themselves cannot be "published" or shared, which is what most people want.
A new, resource-oriented Moodle system
What would fit my needs - and maybe the needs of those teachers in the same situation - is a personal "teacher storage space" on my institution's Moodle site, where I could store the material I use in more than one course: media data (images, audio files, etc.); quizzes (and individual quiz questions); glossary (and glossary entries) etc.
This "storage space" should be accessible by one teacher (me); it might have options for sharing all or some of its directories/subdirectories with other teachers.
Let me take some concrete examples of how such a "resource-oriented system" would work. NOTE:- I am using the present tense, as if this were for real.
On my institution's Moodle site there is a Moodledata directory called \rezeau to which I have access.
Admin creates my Courses A, B, C.
In Course A I have a "Glossary of Art Terms". The entries, the links to images in some entries, are in fact stored in a \rezeau\glossaries database; the images are stored either in \rezeau\images (where I would store images used throughout my courses) or, more specifically in a \rezeau\glossaries\image directory.
In Course B I have a "Glossary of Art History & Archaeology Terms". Some of the entries are the same as the ones in the Course A Glossary, some are different, but all have beeen entered in my \rezeau\glossaries database. This means there is no duplication of resources, just links.
In Courses A, B and C I have exactly the same Quiz. This Quiz is made of questions stored in my \rezeau\quiz\questions\ database, and the Quiz itself is stored in my \rezeau\quiz\, at least the parts which can be common to all my courses. There would still remain a number of Quiz parameters proper to each course, such as date availability, score tracking, etc.
In Courses A, B and C, I have web page resources which have slightly different text versions but point to the same image files. The image links point to the same images, stored in \rezeau\images
In order to achieve what is described above, a number of teachers use Moodle only as a "front end" for their courses: they have one or several Moodle "courses" on a site, where their students are enrolled by admin or self-enrolled; they may or may not use the forums; the essential part of their course material consists in fact of various resources (HTML pages, Flash files, etc.) which reside on a totally different website, very often their own personal site. That they have to resort to such extreme "externalization" of their course resources is a reflection of the lack of a proper facility in Moodle, such as I have detailed above.
I am well aware that what I am advocating here entails radical changes in the overall structure of Moodle. Or maybe not: perhaps some genius can come up with a simple solution which would exactly answer my wish-list at the cost of minimum changes in a future version of Moodle. For instance, the new database module (forthcoming in 1.6) might solve all or some of the problems mentioned. Who knows?
I hope that the point of view expressed above, which was triggered both by personal "on-the-ground" involvement and questions and queries expressed on the Moodle forums will gather some support and lead to an even better Moodle in the near future.