Moodle Announcements

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Moodle 2.7 Quality Assurance testing
 

Testers group iconWe're planning on releasing Moodle 2.7 next month, and so we're once again running a Quality Assurance (QA) testing cycle. The list of over 400 tests includes lots of new tests covering features and improvements in Moodle 2.7.

If you can spare any time and would like to volunteer to help, please see the discussion Help needed with Moodle 2.7 Quality Assurance testing for details of how you can be involved.

Thanks to everyone for helping ensure our new release is top quality!

Martin in black and white
Heartbleed security issue - moodle.org updated, please update your own servers!
 

As you may be aware, a security issue in OpenSSL known as Heartbleed has affected servers and services across the entire Internet.

To be safe you should change passwords on any service AFTER it has been updated with new versions of OpenSSL.

Moodle.org has been updated, you should also ensure that any servers you maintain (plus any certificates on those servers) are also updated.

See Matthew Spurrier's post for more details.

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Upcoming MoodleMoots in 2014
 

If you'd like to meet up with other Moodlers in person in 2014, there are a number of Moodle conferences coming up:

If you're organising a Moodle event and would like it added to the moodle.org calendar, please let me know.

(Edited by Helen Foster to add additional dates - original submission Thursday, 12 December 2013)

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MRC2014 Call for Papers: Deadline Extended
 

MRC2014 Call for Papers - Deadline Extended to 14 April

Thanks to all of those who have already submitted their papers for the Moodle Research Conference 2014 (MRC2014).

Due to numerous requests from participants, the deadline for papers has been extended to Monday, April 15.

The extension provides another two weeks for research paper submissions and the opportunity to present on an international stage at the MRC2014 at California State University.

If you or someone you know has undertaken research on the impact of using Moodle on student learning or has developed tools increasing capacity to conduct research on Moodle use, you are invited to submit your findings in the form of a research paper, poster or demonstration.

As a reminder, possible paper topics include experimental research involving methods and tools, case studies on the effectiveness of teaching methods, collaborative learning / social learning, communities of practice, plugins / modules / blocks increasing research capabilities, MOOCs and mobile learning.

For details, please visit http://research.moodle.net/mrc2014

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Moodle 2.6.2, 2.5.5 and 2.4.9 are now available
 

Moodle 2.6.2, 2.5.5, 2.4.9 are available via the usual open download channels: http://download.moodle.org or Git.

In addition to a number of bug fixes and small improvements, security vulnerabilities have been discovered and fixed. As always, we recommend that you upgrade your sites to these latest versions as soon as possible. All admins of registered Moodle sites have been notified with security issue details.

Upgrading should be very straightforward. Full details about the releases can be found in the release notes.

Note that the 2.4 branch is now supported for security fixes only.

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Google Summer of Code 2014
 

GSoC 2014 logoI'm pleased to announce that Moodle is taking part in Google Summer of Code 2014 - our eighth year of involvement in the program.

The GSOC program pays students to work on open source software products for 3-4 months (over the northern hemisphere summer), mentored by existing developers.

Please see Projects for new developers for our list of suggested GSOC projects and Applying to work with Moodle for GSOC for details of our application process.

If you're a core Moodle developer and are interested in mentoring a project, please contact Dan Poltawski.

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Second Call for Papers: 3rd Moodle Research Conference (MRC2014)
 

Call for Papers

3rd Moodle Research Conference

19th and 20th of June, 2014

Los Angeles, California, USA

http://research.moodle.net/mrc2014

The Moodle Research Conference (MRC) is an annual international event dedicated to research and development (R&D) in learning and teaching carried out with Moodle. The MRC provides an opportunity for researchers, faculty/teachers, technologists, and other experts who either conduct research on the impact of using Moodle on student learning or develop tools increasing capacity to conduct research on Moodle use. Attendees share experiences and exchange research achievements and innovative developments. The aim of the conference is not to promote Moodle, but to bring together the community using Moodle to provide evidence about learning.

We invite prospective authors to submit full papers and shorter poster papers that critically report on research concerning learning and teaching with Moodle.  In addition, this year we invite proposals for demonstrations of Moodle add-ons and analysis techniques that increase the capability to conduct research using Moodle.  The conference will be preceded by working groups launching collaborative research projects.

Important Dates

18 November 2013: First call for papers
10 February 2014: Second call for papers
28 February 2014: Deadline for working group proposals
27 March 2014: Deadline for submission of papers and demonstration proposals
24 April 2014: Notification of acceptance
8 May 2014: Submission of final copy of accepted papers
15 May 2014: Early-bird registration deadline
15 May 2014: Deadline to register for working groups
18 June 2014: MRC Working groups
19-20 June 2014: MRC2014 Conference

Topics

Prospective authors are invited to submit manuscripts reporting original unpublished research and recent developments. The following are possible topics involving Moodle.

  • Experimental research involving methods and tools
  • Case studies on the effectiveness of teaching methods
  • Collaborative learning / social learning
  • Communities of practice
  • Learning analytics
  • Early warning systems
  • Plugins / modules / blocks increasing research capabilities
  • Personalisation and adaptivity
  • Massive Open Online Courses
  • Interoperability with Moodle
  • Accessibility
  • Mobile learning

Paper guidelines

All papers and proposals submitted to the conference should include:

  • referenced relationships to past research,
  • empirical evidence (quantitative or qualitative) based on results of research and
  • interpretation and implications of findings for future Moodle use.

There are three potential types of submissions to the MRC.

Full papers

Paper length: up to 8 pages (including figures and references).
Will be presented individually in full sessions during conference.

Full papers will present the findings of a research project. They should include discussions of past research and identify the motivators behind the current study. The focus of the paper should be the presentation and interpretation of  empirical evidence (quantitative or qualitative). They should also include a description of how evidence was gathered and analyzed. Full papers will be included in the conference proceedings and must be formatted using the provided template.

Poster papers

Paper length: up to 1000 words in length.
Will be presented in a group poster session.

Poster papers will follow the same formatting and referencing requirements as full papers, but the level of significance of evidence presented in poster papers can be lower. They are ideal for small projects, works-in-progress, or case studies with limited evidence.  Poster papers will be included in the conference proceedings and must be formatted using the provided template.

Demonstrations

Proposal length: 250 word abstract describing the demonstration.
Will be presented individually in short sessions during conference.

Demonstrations present software tools, analytical techniques, and other technical developments that can be used to enhance our current research capabilities with Moodle. Potential applications include enhanced reporting functionality, learning analytics, and other tools.  Demonstration proposals will not be published as part of the proceedings.

Making a submission

Full papers and poster papers must use the template provided on the conference website, which describes and exemplifies formatting requirements. All submissions will be made using the EasyChair conference management system. All paper submissions will undergo double-blind peer review involving at least two program committee members. Accepted papers will be published as conference proceedings with an ISBN in an open access, online-only version. For more information about formatting and submitting papers see the conference website.

Submit your paper or proposal at the URL http://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=mrc2014

Conference Chairs

Michael de Raadt, Moodle HQ (Senior Chair)
John Whitmer, California State University (Incoming Chair)

Program Committee

Juan Ignacio Asensio, University of Valladolid, Spain
Nikolaos Avouris, University of Patras, Greece
Per Bergamin, Institute for Research in Open, Distance and eLearning, Switzerland
Hiram Bollaert, Artesis, Belgium
Paul Daniels, Kochi University of Technology, Japan
Thanasis Daradoumis, University of the Aegean, Greece
Yannis Dimitriadis, University of Valladolid, Spain
Martin Dougiamas, Moodle, Australia
Curtis Fornadley, University of Californa, Los Angeles, USA
Jessica Gramp, University College London, UK
Rakesh Gupta, Adelphi University, USA
Gavin Henrick, Learning, Technology Services Limited, Ireland
Davinia Hernandez-Leo, University of Valladolid, Spain
Clive Holtham, City University, UK
Carolyne Jacobs, University of Portsmouth, UK
Toshihiro Kita, Kumamoto, University, Japan
Anna Krassa, GAC Corporate Academy and HRDNZ MP, Greece
George Magoulas, Birkbeck College, UK
Alejandra Martínez, University of Valladolid, Spain
Luca Mazzola, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Andreas Papasalouros, University of Aegean, Greece
Ioana Porumb, Institute for Research in Open, Distance and eLearning, Switzerland
Francesca Pozzi, Istituto Tecnologie Didattiche – CNR, Italy
Yannis Psaromiligkos, Technological Education Institute of Piraeus, Greece
Symeon Retalis, University of Piraeus, Greece
Andrew Roderick, San Francisco State University, USA
Demetrios G Sampson, University of Piraeus, Greece
Jonathan P. San Diego, King's College London, UK
Peter Sloep, Open Universiteit Nederland, Holland
Nadja Soldatic, University of Belgrade, Serbia
Demosthenes Stamatis, ATEI of Thessaloniki, Greece
Chih-Hsiung Tu, Northern Arizona University, USA

Organisers

The MRC2014 will be organized by the Office of the Chancellor, California State University.

Venue

The MRC2014 will be held at the California State University Chancellor's Office (Long Beach, California, USA). Details about the venue, potential accommodation and travel advice can be found on the conference website.

More Information

Website: http://research.moodle.net/mrc2014
Enquiries about paper submissions: mrc2014@easychair.org
Enquiries about venue, travel, and other logistics: info@research.moodle.net

(Edited by Aparup Banerjee - original submission Monday, February 10, 2014, 10:46 AM)

(Edited by Aparup Banerjee - original submission Thursday, February 20, 2014, 1:28 PM)

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Call for MRC2014 Working group proposals
 

Working groups bring together researchers interested in initiating a collaborative research project at the MRC that begins at the conference and continues afterwards.

What is a working group?

A working group provides an opportunity to bring together experts and practitioners across institutions to pursue a well-defined set of research questions. The aim of such working groups is to further our understanding of the relationship of Moodle to learning and teaching goals. They are a great opportunity for experienced researchers to direct research and also for new researchers to become more active in the research community.

Working groups also have a tangible outcome. In most cases this is the publication of a research paper, although it may lead to other things such as improvements in Moodle or new add-ons. The potential to bring together researchers from multiple institutions creates the opportunity for findings that can be generalised to a larger set of students and to make broader claims about educational processes and learning.  From a methodological perspective, multi-institutional projects strengthen the validity of results and increase the chances of publication or Moodle development activities.

Although working groups will run autonomously, they will have the opportunity to interact with Moodle HQ to answer questions and identify potential applications of findings. This relationship makes the working groups an ideal opportunity for researchers to bring their findings to practice in the open source community supported by Moodle.

Working groups have the following characteristics.

  • Generally there is a leader (or leaders) who establishes the working group; the leaders may maintain some leadership during the project, possibly becoming first-author on published papers, but work is done by all participants.
  • Participants may be asked to be involved in preparation prior to the working group, in some activity such as reading prescribed research papers or gathering data.
  • The initial working group meeting at the MRC is an opportunity to plan/pilot/refine an "experimental kit" or project plan that would be taken away by participants and applied in the period following the MRC. It may also involve the design of a Moodle plugin that is used to gather data.
  • After the MRC, results are gathered, collated and analysed, possibly at a subsequent working group meeting, which leads to paper writing or other activities.
  • Working groups are generally run at low cost to participants. There may be costs to cover the catering of food. Participants will also need to attend an extra day meaning they will have to cover additional accommodation expenses.
  • Working groups should generally have no more than 10 participants to allow each member to contribute.

Proposing a working group

Potential leaders are invited to propose a working group using the Working Group Proposals database activity. Consider research or development projects that could be completed collaboratively, potentially across multiple institutions or Moodle sites and potentially with the aid of an add-on to Moodle.

A few examples of potential working group topics are: early warning notifications, student retention, analytics to evaluate course design, student feedback and metacognition, effective student assessments, student progress indicators, measures of relative success, opportunities to interact, teacher involvement and success, or anything else related to how Moodle can be used for improving learning and teaching.

If you have any questions about working groups, such as the suitability of a proposal, please contact the chairs using the mrc2014@easychair.org email address.

Proposal Deadline

Proposals should be submitted before 28 Feb, 2014. This will allow the working groups to be promoted to potential participants before the MRC Early-bird registration deadline. Depending on the number of working groups proposed, the number of working groups may need to be limited. MRC co-chairs will identify proposals with the greatest perceived impact.

In 2014, working groups will be held on the day prior to the conference proper.

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Moodle 2.6.1, 2.5.4, 2.4.8 and 2.3.11 are now available
 

Moodle 2.6.1, 2.5.4, 2.4.8 and 2.3.11 are available via the usual open download channels (http://download.moodle.org or Git).

In addition to a number of bug fixes and small improvements, security vulnerabilities have been discovered and fixed. As always, we recommend that you upgrade your sites to these latest versions as soon as possible. All admins of registered Moodle sites have been notified with security issue details.

Upgrading should be very straightforward. Full details about the releases can be found in the release notes:

Note that the 2.4 branch is now supported for security fixes only and 2.3.11 is the final release in the 2.3 branch.

Martin in black and white
Moodle 2.6 is now available!
 

Take the plunge with Moodle 2.6!Hello!

I'm writing to you from the Moodle Majlis in Muscat, Oman, where we just had several days of Moodle community goodness.

The big news right now is that Moodle 2.6 is now finally available for download!  (see our download site or your local git wizard)

It's been a long six months - time to take a breath and look at all the things that our community has produced!   Over 120 developers worldwide (and about 20 in Moodle HQ) have coding credits in this release.

This release contains hundreds of improvements and fixes that address requests from the community, but the major ones fall into two basic categories: usability improvements that improve how Moodle functions from a user point of view and performance improvements that allow Moodle to run faster and better in a wider range of software environments.

  1. Usability improvements: improved responsive behaviour for all types of devices, clean new course editing interfaces, annotation of PDF assignment submissions, improved course management, a more user-friendly text editor, additional name fields, a new course format that lets you make a course out of any single activity, support for non-Gregorian calendars and much more.

  2. Performance improvements: new options for handling sessions using backends like memcached, full support for PHP OPcache, faster admin menus, improvements on MS SQL and Maria DB and more.

For more details on these see the official Moodle 2.6 release notes, or browse our Moodle 2.6 New Features page which has nice screenshots.

Something new for this release is a series of videos we've made to show some of the main new features - we hope you enjoy them!

Thank you again to all the developers, testers, managers, integrators, designers, communicators, hackers, builders, critics, thinkers, teachers, students, administrators and who continue to contribute to the ongoing development of our learning platform that has changed the world.  Thank you all. 

So take the plunge with 2.6 (before we get stuck into the challenges of 2.7 smile )

Cheers,
Martin