This release contains a lot of things, but the biggest two headline features you’ll find are:
1) Course overview on dashboard
The new “course overview” block in the dashboard (a project from the MUA!) shows an overview of your courses and things that are coming up.
This may seem like a small feature in itself, but it directly attacks the number one problem that students have expressed to us, which is “how do I know what to do next”, so this is a major improvement. The dashboard will be truly useful as the first place you always want to look at when you come to Moodle on the web or in our mobile app.
The functionality of the course overview depends on knowledge about critical dates in Moodle activities. Because of this, a major part of this project was to improve how educators set up activity completion in their courses. We've added new features to set the defaults for activities, as well as bulk editing of activities, making it much faster to get things set up well.
We’re happy with the first version of this new approach in this release, which was our first major project to undergo a lot of UX testing and prototyping before any code was written. However there is already a list of things we want to do to make the dashboard look and work even better, and you will find many of these coming soon (some as soon as Moodle 3.3.1).
2) Office integrations
The other major feature is the new integrations with external office platforms like Google G-Suite and Microsoft Office365.
We know that quite a few Moodle sites use one of these two office systems, and the integrations are targeted at making life easier to have single-sign-on, to use your document repository in Moodle, and so on. These integrations have existed as add-on plugins for a long time, but we wanted to include them in core as part of a simpler framework, one that can truly grow over time to get better and better.
I hope to see similar integrations in the near future with open source Office solutions such as NextCloud and others.
Other new features include:
- assignment grading improvements
- updated, more accessible icons using FontAwesome
- Increased multi-byte support on MySQL (which also helps emojis)
- Stealth mode for activities
- instant drag-and-drop of media files on course pages
- new document conversion plugins for assignment grading UI
- new file storage plugins for cluster and cloud sites
- much more …
Not least, with 3.3 you can also start experimenting with the first version of our new and very exciting analytics/AI framework, called “Inspire”. We hope our Moodle-based analytics research community will rally around and help to develop it over the coming years into a truly helpful assistant for educators and learners.
If you are on MoodleCloud (together with 21,000 others and growing!) then you'll be upgraded within the next two weeks.
Before I go ... every time we do a release there's an opportunity to pause and reflect on our progress with the Moodle project.
We are in a period in history that feels more tumultuous than ever. Inequality in wealth, power and even food is rising rapidly throughout the world, we have 65 million displaced people without homes, populations are suffering from mismanaged globalisation, global interests are fighting over control of our information and our buying habits, urgent climate change problems being ignored at highest levels, automation is decimating whole industries, healthcare quality is dropping in many parts of the world, and on and on and on.
I am seeing some beautiful things happening in the world too, partially in reaction to all this. People are using technology to reach out and connect, to teach, to work, to support others, to spread innovations and positive ideas around the world. People are fighting everywhere for openness, for equality, for kindness, for honesty, for sanity and science everywhere: it’s good to see, but it’s a long road.
Information is not enough. Access to information is not enough - all of this is out there already. We believe the power of well-equipped educators is critical part of the solution to ANY problem, especially the big problems.
And that’s why, we believe, stronger than ever, that our mission at Moodle is to empower educators to improve our world. This release is but a small step on an important road towards the most amazing learning platform that the world can’t even imagine yet.
We believe absolutely that truly open source projects such as Moodle supporting our education systems are the best way to distribute innovation globally and help educators create a better-educated and more connected human population on this planet of ours, while protecting fundamental human rights as well as local language and culture.
We have much more to do, and we need your support to do it. Donations are always welcome, but for our sustainability we prefer if you work with us:
- Does Moodle not satisfy your needs? Help us improve it!
- Do you have a need for Moodle services? Let us find you a Moodle Partner.
- Are you part of one of the many thousands of projects out there using Moodle for research or development? Science with us!
- Is there a large tender out for learning platforms in your country, state or district? Let us know!
Help us help you - by working together we can do great things for the education community.
Thank you to the many hundreds of you who contributed directly with your time and finances towards the Moodle 3.3 release, as a developer, commentator or tester, or more indirectly by joining the Moodle Users Association, by purchasing a Branded Moodle Mobile App, by using a Moodle Partner and so on.
We’re already onto Moodle 3.4, which will have almost no new features, we're going to devote some solid time to fixing long-standing pain points plus polishing the Boost interface and taking it to new heights. Second stage rockets, if you will. ;)
Peace to you all and thank you for being on this journey with us.
Moodle Founder and CEO