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Activity module cleanup in HEAD (2.0 dev)

Martin Dougiamas
Activity module cleanup in HEAD (2.0 dev)
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Some of you may have noticed some modules have been moved from HEAD into contrib.

It's not intended that the functionality they provided be lost in any way. We are just cleaning up the core distribution and hopefully pushing along some development on these modules. HEAD is very unstable at the moment and does not reflect what 2.0 will look like (remember it's at least 8 months away).

Note also that NO data has been (or will be) deleted - all the tables and data for those modules will still be there in upgraded sites even if the code is missing. Adding the code from contrib to your installation will Just Work (tm). We're planning to have notices come up during the upgrade to explain the situation in case anyone gets caught out.

So please don't panic. smile

More details:

Journal module - works OK and has been maintained with the bare minimum of upgrades, but has been disabled by default since Moodle 1.5 (when all Journals were converted to Online Assignments). If anyone wants to help add an "overview" to Online Assignment (which was the only feature that Journal had that OA doesn't) or to maintain Journal in contrib, please put up your hand! Discussion in Journal forum

Exercise module - was a mistake to be in core in the first place. It was NEVER actually included in core package distributions (it was only in CVS). The idea was good but Ray disappeared soon afterward it got checked in and it was never really maintained. Discussion in Exercise forum

Workshop module - has a lot of fans but it also has a lot of users who can not make any sense of the interface, as well as a lot of programmers who tremble when they look at the spaghetti code. It needs a total overhaul and replacement. The idea was to replace both this and Exercise with one module that can do all peer-evaluated assignments. The best candidate for this is Peerlight, currently, which we'll be looking into more deeply soon. If someone wants to maintain Workshop independently in contrib please put up your hand! Discussion in Workshop forum

LAMS module - was maintained by the LAMS guys but they've dropped support for it. I don't think very many people were using this module at all and it just confuses people. It currently only supports LAMS 1 (and the world seems to be using LAMS 2 now). Again, if someone wants to maintain this in contrib, let's hear from you! smile

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Picture of John Isner
Re: Activity module cleanup in HEAD (2.0 dev)
Hi Martin,
Re workshop: I never got a clear picture as to why Workshop is going away, or needs replacing. From some of your more recent posts, I thought the main reason was lack of maintainer. That didn't sound like a compelling reason, given that there are other activities (e.g., SCORM) without maintainers.

The first problem you mention (users who can't make sense of the interface) is IMO primarily the fault of the grade report. Most teachers can't understand it and therefore can't explain the grades to their students. For them, Workshop is unusable.

And IMO the real reason why developers tremble is that they don't understand the grade report any better than the users smile

The grade report is the core of the problem.

Fixing the grade report would be a piece of cake. I hacked an alternative version of the report that is so straightforward that a child can undestand it. I had one teacher try it with a very small class and she had no problem explaining the grades to her students.

Spaghetti code? There's a LOT of code, but I found it quite well-written and easy to follow. Certainly it was easy enough for me (a non-developer) to follow in order to hack the new grade report. I'm sure there's code in Moodle that makes developers tremble worse than Workshop.

Overhaul and replacement are two different things. Workshop obviously needs an overhaul so that it works with frameworks like gradebook and permissions. But it was never clear to me why it needed replacement. Tremendous thought and effort went into Workshop. It is the best thought-out activity in Moodle, bar none. The replacement team seemed as if they were starting over, asking what do people want? That made ME tremble smile

I would put up my hand to maintain Workshop, but I am not a developer.
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Picture of Don Hinkelman
Re: Activity module cleanup in HEAD (2.0 dev)
Particularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developers
"...I would put up my hand to maintain Workshop, but I am not a developer."

Everything you have done, John, points to an ideal, or almost-ideal maintainer.
  1. passion for the module
  2. experience using it with learners
  3. training others in using it
  4. knowing where its problems are
  5. clear about its future direction
  6. hacking it even
I am a maintainer of several contrib modules, but can't hack a single line of code. So I would say you are far better than I to take the helm of a module. I also tend to say the first five points are the most important qualifications. Martin may think differently though. smile

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Picture of John Isner
Re: Activity module cleanup in HEAD (2.0 dev)
Hi Don,
Thank you for your kind words smile I AM passionate about Workshop, and I would team up with an experienced Moodle developer to rescue it from oblivion after I finish my current project. I could certainly handle the programming end of it (I'm an experienced programmer -- just not a Moodle developer; there's a BIG difference), so I would mainly need advice and support from the developer.
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