Future major features

We need a change

 
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Picture of Phuong Hoang
We need a change
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Dear moodle developers,

Moodle is known to be the best learning platform. It’s true. As far I know, the core purpose of moodle is to use in schools, colleges and universities where E-learning is compulsory. However, there are many schools, colleges and universities, especially in developing countries where e-learning is optional. As teachers, we realize the benefits which moodle can bring to our students; that’s why we use moodle. Our purpose is different from yours; we’d like to build up online learning environment in developing countries, among them is my country, Vietnam. In my country, teachers have no rights to force students to do quizzes and assignments online at class, just encourage students to do these tasks at home. Therefore, how to attract students online to practice is a difficult question to us. We’d like the courses we create and the documents we share are used not only by our students but also by other students. If so, we need some more features in future moodle;

  1. Forum threads appear in fontpage or fontpage blocks (used to have). Frankly speaking, we don’t need news forums. Why don’t we replace news forum threads by discussion forum threads in fontpage? If so, it’s easy for students to see them.
  2. Forum threads and courses should have tags. Why? As mentioned above, we need forum our threads and courses appear on searching engines.
  3. In discussion forums, there should have an additional column called View/ Read next to Replies one like other sources.
  4. Attachment files should have counting function or who downloaded them.
  5. Forum thread and course headings should have Like and Social share buttons. (We don’t have to use Social share Block anymore).

Have you ever wondered why most people use moodle as a small part of their websites? They use other sources such as; wordpress, vBullentin, Xenforo etc. as their main websites. You can see; https://domain.com/moodle. Which source is used in https://moodlenews.com? Surely, not moodle. Of course, you can have your own answer for this question. The answer is clear and simple; moodle doesn’t look like a webpage because moodle lacks some of above features. I strongly believe that moodle developers can make moodle look like a webpage. Sooner or later, moodle developers will add some of these features.

I look forwards to using these features in next moodle version.

Best wishes,


 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: We need a change
Group Core developersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

1. Forum threads on front page:

You may not use the News forum - others may make extensive use of it. 

Which forum threads would you want on the front page? For instance my workplace moodle has about 2000 thousand courses, most with forum discussions. Its not practical, possible or desirable to put those on the front page. However, if you set the MyHome page as the default for logged in users, then each course they are enrolled on should give information about unread posts, making it easy for students to see the ones relevant to them without being overloaded with all of them, whether they are subscribed or not.

You could also enable RSS feeds for any forums you wish and allow students to access forums via the rss block

2. Tags are not necessarily a cure all for search engine optimisation - if you want your courses and forums to appear on search engines, then investigate that as an issue, but don't assume tags will solve it

3. View/Read - presumably what you are after is a means of tracking unread/read forum posts?

Have you tried turning on Read tracking, which highlights the unread posts? But yes, agree a count of unread posts alongside the total number of replies in a thread would be useful information

4. OK - don't personally see the benefit of this, and would probably just apply google analytics or similar if I needed it, but if you have a requirement for it then fine.

5. Like/Social Share - we already have a ratings system available to forums and the ability to create your own (see the useful ratings on these forums - the word could just as easily be 'like'). Social Sharing - I can see how some would consider this useful, but I personally don't like the idea of 'forcing' anyone to have an external social media account if they don't want one (or implying they have to connect their social accounts with their learning - many users want to keep their social media separate from their learning), so it would need settings about 'if the user has' and 'what social media the user has' given that some countries ban access to some sites like twitter and facebook, or have more popular social media sites that are more specific to their own country/region. From a usability point of view, I wouldn't want share on twitter/facebook buttons appearing for everyone if they dont have those accounts.


Yes, people use Moodle as a part of their total webpresence because they are using teh most appropriate tool for the task - for your example, the moodlenews.com site is a newsletter, not a learning environment, so why would it choose to use Moodle?

As powerful as Moodle is as a learning environment, it is not designed to be a one stop shop off the shelf solution for the entire web needs of an institution. It is designed to be the best learning environment it can be.

Yes, moodle can look more like a webpage - see some of the newer themes and some of the examples discussed in the forums and around the web. And yes, some of your suggestions may be useful for some users. But some of them are specific to your use case while Moodle needs to address everyone's needs in ways that can be adapted for individual institutions. Can't comment on zenforo as I've never heard of it, while vBulletin is specifically designed as a forum and only a forum, so yes, if you want to use that in place of Moodle's own tools because your needs revolve more around the forum than around the learning environment as a whole, then I would recommend using the best tools for YOUR needs and using Moodle for its core purpose while using other tools for blogging (wordpress) external forums (a bulletin board of some kind) or whatever other needs an individual institution may have.

Moodle does not need to become a primary webpage creation tool, at least not over and above its core purpose - where I do agree that having a more 'web page feel' would be beneficial, given that the look and feel of the web itself changes over time too!


Perhaps you should consider adding these suggestions to the tracker - mainly by the look of them as suggestions for the forum tool. They can then be voted on and possibly developed by the community. I know improvements to the forum are an often discussed topic smile (While I still consider it far better than the ones on many commercial and alternative OSS rival learning systems I have used)


 
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Picture of Phuong Hoang
Re: We need a change
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Dear Richard,

First of all, I feel unpleased because my thread was moved to General help. I know you have power over my thread. Did I post in wrong forum? Originally, I posted this thread in Future major featuresForum, so Why was this thread moved to General help? Are these features available in Moodle?

1. We’d like the forum threads like on http:s//moodle.org (quiz, theme, forum, and lesson etc.). The newest thread or post in each forum will appear in Fontpage. I think we can control the number of threads or posts appearing in fontpage like courses appear in font page in default theme, so overloading won’t happen.

2. You said, “Tags are not necessarily a cure all for search engine optimisation”. Why posters use tags? Do they use tags for fun? You can read: Title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content. You can read more information about title tags here.

3. I turned on Read tracking, but in fact, not all of the students remember to subcribe forums. In addition, a large number of our users are Guests.

4. Attachment files: Why do teachers have to see logs to find out who downloaded our files instead of seeing them right after the files?

5. Social like and share: I can’t believe that your students don’t social network accounts. In my poor country, Vietnam, almost secondary students and college students have facebook, google, twister etc. accounts.

Xenforo not Zenforo! Xenforo is one of the biggest and most popular sources. You can read more at: https://xenforo.com

How to make Moodle look like a webpage by using Theme is only a short-term solution. Now we have Moodle 3.0+ while how many themes are used for moodle 3. Supposing you have you favorite theme, you can’t use it for a long time because you have to upgrade newer moodle and the theme designer of your favorite theme doesn’t upgrade it – He/ she abandons it.

Once again, I say “Our core purpose is different from yours”. If you feel my suggestion unnecessary, you may ignore them. I on behalf of moodlers using moodle in schools where E-learning isn’t compulsory say and suggest what we want and wish in future moodle.

Best wishes,



 
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Picture of Howard Miller
Re: We need a change
Group Core developersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developers

And to think I was just going to move it to The Lounge tongueout

If you want fancy forums then use a proper forum application. Moodle documentation used MediaWiki because that is the man for the job. Absolutely, suggestions are welcome but sometimes Moodle just isn't the tool you should be using. Most organisations will use a variety of tools to facilitate their complete web presence. Otherwise, all we do is re-invent the wheel.

 
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Picture of Don Hinkelman
Re: We need a change - Five needed changes for the Forum Module
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developers

Hi Howard and Phoung,

I agree completely that the forums need changes. I remember in 2003 when sticky forums were first proposed and now, 12 years later, they have finally moved into final stages of core integration. Sticky forums are not "fancy" features, but critical tools to allow teachers to focus key pinned topics for attention, and give students valuable ways to construct knowledge by summarizing long threads and seemingly unconnected comments. Teachers and students do not want to have 5 or 6 separate LMS tools to log into and switch to--a blog tool, a wiki tool, a forum tool, etc. The purpose of Moodle is to have one place to go to. Unfortunately, the forum module has been in a decade-long doldrum (with the exception of word counts!) and your suggestions, Phoung, are spot on. 

My suggestion to Phoung is that after you get feedback on the these recommendations, that you separate the points and make Tracker items for each.  I know the Tracker is really scary (for me too) and it is easy for a recommendation to get lost for 12 years, but with persistance, and support by other teachers, there is change.  The reason that core development is so slow is because developers think differently than teachers--they are more concerned with long-term maintanence of code, than learning. It is natural, so teachers have to explain their needs convincingly and rally other teachers who have the same needs. 

Howard, could you move this thread back to the Future Major Features section? Actually, I think the majority of points relate to the Forum Module. Then we should move it to the Forums Module discussions.  My suggestion for retitling this thread is something more specific like:  "Five needed changes for the Forum Module". 

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: We need a change - Five needed changes for the Forum Module
Group Core developersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

"The purpose of Moodle is to have one place to go to"

I'm not sure that is true. For example there will always be forum systems better than those in Moodle, and I can live with that. I have been using online forums for around as long as they have existed and I have never used them in other systems I have run and not missed them in Moodle. One persons essential is another persons whatever.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: We need a change - Five needed changes for the Forum Module
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Don has a very simple idea, and that is Moodle should be a "one-stop shop" for educational tools and purposes. Like a lot of simple ideas, incredibly difficult to implement, particularly if the people running the show don't necessarily agree. There can be a very fine line between trying to be a "one-stop-shop" and "being all things to all people". This is usually defined by ego and not need or ability, just look at the Dark Side - and shudder. 

I agree with Don, Moodle should be a "one-stop-shop", but based on educational requirement and student need. This is why I have mentioned elsewhere that Moodle should have a small, bomb-proof core and layers of plugins from the tried and tested to experimental for people to use, and refine for their own purposes. Such a setup, I suggest, would suit both educational requirement and student need, allowing any educational system, or entity, to structure their Moodle to suit their own requirements and needs.  These are similar in general all over the world, but can be very different in detail and application across nations. 

Phoung mostly discusses forums and I know Don makes a lot of use of forums, but these are not the only tools they would use. Neither may use a database, but both would likely use a student built glossary for their language students, so why would they have need of a database activity in their Moodles?

Which would likely lead to a further refinement, in very large institutes, why have just one Moodle? Languages use many different tools than Maths, and few similar tools than Languages, but Maths would use many of the same tools as Science and Engineering. Why then should someone in Languages have to wade through the Maths, Science and Engineering tools to get to the tools they need? Ok, it is not that difficult, I know, but the idea is to modify Moodles to suit more specific student needs. Could that not be a development goal?

Besides, Moodle still looks pretty much like a 1999 interface, how about improving it?   

  

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: We need a change - Five needed changes for the Forum Module
Group Core developersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

Colin I mis-read your last post. You wrote

Moodle should have a small, bomb-proof core and layers..

And I read

Moodle should have a small, bomb-proof core and lawyers

smile

I can live with a 1999 interface that is easy to use (though easy to use and pretty would be better)



 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: We need a change - Five needed changes for the Forum Module
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

big grinbig grin  Hahah! Lawyers... that is a good one Marcus, but I think we have enough blood-sucking lawyers vampires in the world..smile But this is the same conversation as this

 
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Picture of Phuong Hoang
Re: We need a change - Five needed changes for the Forum Module
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
Hi Don, 

Thank you for your advice, Don. I will do as you told me except for making Tracker items because "Our purpose is different from yours". I've been using Forums of other sources for a long time, so I get accustomed to them and I ask for too much. In short, I should be pleased with what Moodle has and try to make some tweaks. Thanks everyone for everything.

 
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Picture of Howard Miller
Re: We need a change - Five needed changes for the Forum Module
Group Core developersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developers

Hi Don,

I don't use 'fancy' in a pejorative way - simply to capture all the 'stuff' that Moodle forums might do but currently do not. 

It seems to me that a lot of this stuff will take a long time to agree and even longer to implement. Of course, the forums should not stagnate but piling in features and options isn't always the best thing either. 

My point is, that if the OP wants to run a complex forum site *now* then Moodle may not be his best choice. It doesn't stop him using Moodle for other things. However, a 'front page' sophisticated forum could be done today with a dedicated forum application and almost certainly give him the features he needs. 

I answered this in the context of the 'General help' forum, where I found it at the time. 

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: We need a change | Just the themes question
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Your interesting and many faceted post.  smile  

Just one little bit:

How to make Moodle look like a webpage by using Theme is only a short-term solution. Now we have Moodle 3.0+ while how many themes are used for moodle 3. Supposing you have you favorite theme, you can’t use it for a long time because you have to upgrade newer moodle and the theme designer of your favorite theme doesn’t upgrade it – He/ she abandons it.

I am always interested in people who say Moodle not "look like a web page'  What does a webpage exactly look like?  Moodle is a web page?  How can it not look like one?  If you are saying the look of Moodle sucks, than that is different.
As a digression, see Mary's Mystery Theme question: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=325085

If you could choose how Moodle looked, how would you like a theme to style it?

But there are a few themes that are well supported, and ready for 3.0.

Three that I have looked at in detail, and depending on what you want I'd be very surprised if you couldn't get what you want/need from one/several of them:

  1. Pioneer
  2. Flexibase
  3. BCU

And there are others, but I have not examined them in detail.

If there is a feature/factor you want, then we may be able to help you.  Just let us know.

Regards

-Derek

 
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Picture of Helen Foster
Re: We need a change
Group Core developersGroup Documentation writersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup TestersGroup Translators
Dear Phuong,

Thank you very much for your posts about your purpose for Moodle in Vietnam and what features you would like to have.

I am sorry that the thread was moved from the Future major features forum into General help by mistake. It has now been returned to Future major features.
 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: We need a change
Group Core developersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

I didn't move it and no I don't have that authority - I am only a forum moderator in the Themes forum, not across the whole site

 
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Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: We need a change
Group Core developersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

Firstly Phuong, as mentioned below - I didn't move the thread, I dont believe I  have that authority across the forums, I am only the moderator in the Themes forum.

I believe, although could be corrected that the forum posts you mention on the frontpage of moodle.org are RSS feeds, which is already possible and which I have built into other themes for schools in the past.

From your own comment - Tags are the second most important feature for SEO after content. I don't doubt tags are a good idea, but as I said, they are not the 'cure-all' for search engine optimisation. And getting people to bother using them can also be problematic on forums - its a different use case to tagging a blog post, although may be appropriate to longer forum posts. I would say maybe a tag cloud for a whole discussion rather than for individual posts - but then if the title is meaningful I can usually find what I'm looking for already. moodle.org forum posts seem to have no difficulty showing up in google searches without tags.

If they are not subscribed and in fact are guests and therefore anonymous, how would you anticipate Moodle identifying whether they have read the posts anyway? It might be able to identify the posts read in a single session, but if they left and came back, or cleared browser history it would show those users that they have never read any of the posts again.

Attachment files - seeing who downloaded them directly: I'm sure a button to a report that extracts that info from the logs could  be coded into theme if it was required, but yes, if there is a requirement for it, could probably be added as a feature into forums itself, if you request it through the tracker, particularly if you are then able to make some suggestions as to coding it (or find a developer who can). The information, as you point out, should all be there in the logs, a quick link button to extract it easily is probably what is needed. As I said I, personally, would not want a list of downloaders directly with every attachment, on courses with a few hundred users, that would be unworkable. I also wouldn't find it very useful - I would prefer to look at the total engagement with the course as a whole (via the logs and reports) and then potentially drill down from there to specific resources, rather than have lists by each attachment or resource, but that would just be my workflow.

I didn't say our students dont have social medai, I said I have an issue with 'forcing' students to use those accounts for their education provision and that many (not all, not even most, but a significant number) of our students prefer to keep their social lives and their education separate.

Xenforo - a typo, but doesn't change the fact I've never heard of it before. I had read the link you provided the first time and found nothing there to alter my comment that I know nothing about it so wasn't able to comment on it. Perhaps showing my ignorance, but then I never claim to know every piece of software out there on the web. I am surprised though that as you state its such a huge piece of software that the only mention of it I can find in Moodle forums (which are often full of discussions about integrations with things like Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla) is this thread.

Themes, just like the rest of Moodle are open source, and if one gets abandoned that you are using, you are free to maintain it or find another maintainer - big themes such as Essential/Elegance have found alternative community maintainers, and while some of my older themes (as an example) are not being maintained on the community for current moodle releases, I am aware of my old krystle and flexi_ii themes being in use on sites running 2.9 and will be happy to support those users on a 1-1 basis if and when they upgrade next time. Also those of us in the community do our best to continue to support themes from the community plugins database for as long as it is practical to do so - I know there are still people using formal white and other older themes on Moodle 2.9 and 3.0 (That situation does change if you have opted for a commercial theme). Even software like Windows has an end of life period and things that run on one version of Windows may not run on a future one when you upgrade - and upgrading itself is always a choice if it breaks too many of your plugins. I know many sites conitnued to use 1.9 for a long time rather than lose some of their customisations when upgrading to Moodle2. Fortunately the shift to Moodle3 is not that severe.

'If you feel my suggestion unnecessary, you may ignore them.' - It is not my intention to ignore them, or to denegrate them, but to engage with you and your suggestions. If we don't discuss suggestions like yours then it becomes impossible to get community engagement on what is the best way forward. If my ideas contrast with yours, that is not an indication that I believe yours are wrong, or that mine are better than yours in ANY way! simply that they are different and are there for discussion and determining best ways forward. That may be that the discussions lead to changes in core features, or it may be that someone takes your ideas and mine and pushes them in a third direction with a plugin of some kind.

'I on behalf of moodlers using moodle in schools where E-learning isn’t compulsory say and suggest what we want and wish in future moodle' - This is perhaps the only statement you make that I do actually have a major issue with. E-Learning is not compulsory in any of the institutions I have  worked with, although it may be in a few individual courses. However, I would have to say, you do not speak on behalf of me and my wishes for the future of Moodle. I am fine with discussing all the points you make, whether I agree with them or not in the common desire to make Moodle better, except for the sweeping general statement that you speak on behalf of all moodlers in schools where e-learning isn't compulsory. By all means make your points on your own behalf, imply or even state that you believe others in your position would likely share some of your views, but to state that you speak on their behalf in a community the size of Moodle, while actually stating, incorrectly, that you believe Moodle's core purpose is in schools and institutions where e-learning is compulsory, is somewhat undermining your own arguments in my opinion.


Richard

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: We need a change
Group Core developersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

Delighted to read feedback from Vietnam. "Our purpose is different from yours", I think your key purpose is to enable learning and it is not that different from elsewhere. It is important that Moodle keeps to its core purpose, i.e. education and leaves the broader web technologies to people who specialise in it. For example I would not want Moodle to try to compete with Wordpress but I like the idea of it being easy to integrate the two.

 
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Picture of Phuong Hoang
Re: We need a change
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Thanks Marcus,

At my school, students aren't allowed to use smartphones or tablets, therefore, I can't apply e-learning in my lessons. As a teacher of English, I try to make a moodle site for my students to practice English mostly quizzes and get materials. But I failed because of various reasons. Only some of my students are online to practice. Furthermore, they are only online before tests or exams come a couple days.

By the way, Noel comes around. Merry Christmas!!!



 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: We need a change
Group Core developersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Plugin developersGroup Testers

I think it is very common around the world that schools do not allow the use of Mobile phones in class. I too am very interested in the teaching of the English language and particularly the use of Quizzes.  What have been the main reasons you feel you have failed with quizzes? I might have some ideas for you? Do you have access to my Gapfill question type?

I have found students really enjoy frequent short quizzes of low importance, i.e. 10 to 12 marks that do not contribute to their final grade.

By the way, you might want to keep your posts to one topic at a time, it is hard to track and respond to posts with multiple ideas. I suspect you have lots of ideas you want to get out there, and they do sound interesting and worth debating (particularly the stuff about social media).

"If you feel my suggestion unnecessary, you may ignore them. I on behalf of moodlers using moodle in schools where E-learning isn’t compulsory say and suggest what we want and wish in future moodle."

We don't want to ignore anyone with sensible ideas (or even some fairly wild ideas). 


 
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Picture of Joseph Thibault
Re: We need a change
Group Testers

Moodlenews.com is running Wordpress. But that's intentional. We don't offer courses, have a need for authenticating or enrolling students or assessing them so use of Moodle would be inappropriate. 

 
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