Using Moodle for OpenLearn


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  • How we’ve used Moodle to create the OU’s ocw site.
  • how Moodle meets OCI needs Vle integration is important for the future sustainability of OpenLearn. Single code base = single development team. No brainer. Initial product choice rationale similar to those made by the VLE but initially OpenLearn used more of the basic software even than VLE particularly re authentication, content display, forums, blogs. That’s changing now because of the need to support a smaller set of functionality, so OpenLearn is swapping over to VLE choices for all those things (though we are hoping that many will make a future core version of Moodle one day). It was only as I updated this presentation that I realised how far we’ve changed over the last year! Basic tool set: (forums, blogs, quizzes, wiki …) Currently running 1.9.8 and investigating the cost/benefits of early upgrade to Moodle 2.0 when released in a few months.
  • For learners Log in or browse Structure based on disciplines > subjects
  • Range of activities (forums, quizzes, wikis) Collaboration tools : video conf, knowledge mapping Learner tools: personal blog, activity reports
  • Its heavily customised isn’t it? Yes, and its getting worse because of mainstreaming efforts. Most of the contrib activities used have been written by the OU and made available more widely.
  • Nb – now we have authentication linked in with wider OU websites so we’re not using email authentication any more but instead an external auth plug-n. maybe refer briefly to vital here.
  • These things all fill a need which the original Moodle product did not address OU production based on authors writing in structured content xml OU authentication system (external sign up and login) Language e.g. learning journal = blog, user description = about me Themes – OU brand styling, improved navigation and meta tagging for SEO
  • Rationale: pulling people back to the site, getting our content aggregated into ocw search facilities.
  • Rationale: improved finding of related material. Users don’t all understand our topic categories, some units fit in several places. Extends that and tags block. Had hoped would be in moodle 2.0, but doesn’t seem to have made the cut.
  • Rationale: pathways to other related material. User contributions are possible There are other blocks in contrib that do similar things, but often at site level not course, or not quite how we wanted. Includes Folksemantic integration from those nice people at COSL.
  • Rationale: aids users locating suitable material for their abilities. Course home page display is as a label added by our publishing method, nothing clever!
  • Open to our own search engine spider as well, and this allows us to skin our search results within the Moodle site. Focus is on getting the keywords in the right place Sharable? Maybe. Trap 404 errors and run through DB lookup to convert to real Moodle url. (text entry is ignored – shortcode is all important).
  • As you can see we’ve felt the need to change a significant amount of the product, but done within the plug-in framework wherever possible so we can take advantage of many of the underpinnings that Moodle gives us
  • Should make it clear that many of the criticisms I have about the code quality and framework are being addressed in Moodle 2.0 so hopefully this will be an easier platform to build upon. Because oppenness wasn’t in the plan for the original product it doesn’t do RSS feed, search engine access & optimisation, friendly urls etc which make for a large number of fundamental changes to make a really successful OCW site.
  • Using Moodle for OpenLearn

    1. 1. Jenny Gray, Leading Technical Developer open learn, The Open University 7 May 2010
    2. 2. Using Moodle <ul><li>VLE integration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>single code base </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>shared functionality </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Open content, open source philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>Good initial product </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to set up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Simple content display </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to extend </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good basic tool set for learners </li></ul></ul>
    3. 5. What’s core? <ul><li>Core </li></ul><ul><ul><li>myLearningSpace (myMoodle) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Activities: quiz,glossary </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contrib </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Activities: questionnaire, blog, forum, wiki </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>YUI course menu block </li></ul></ul>
    4. 6. Key setup changes <ul><ul><li>Authentication plug-in choice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Manual self-enrolment onto courses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open to Google </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guest and authenticated user permissions </li></ul></ul>
    5. 7. What’s not core? <ul><li>Content discovery </li></ul><ul><ul><li>RSS feeds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extra course metadata </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full-text search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Related resources block </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Course ratings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Course tagging </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Search engine optimisation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Site map </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Themes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Language changes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>OU systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>XML publishing and display </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Authentication </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Supporting learners </li></ul><ul><ul><li>FlashMeeting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compendium </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Activity reports </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Supporting teachers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Alternative formats block </li></ul></ul>
    6. 8. Extra RSS feeds <ul><li>Feed of all visible courses in the site </li></ul><ul><li>Feed of all courses in a category </li></ul>
    7. 9. Course tagging <ul><li>Tag this course </li></ul><ul><li>Tag cloud at top level and on each course home page </li></ul>
    8. 10. Related Educational Resources <ul><li>3 groups of links </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2 controlled by us </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>OU links </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>OpenLearn links </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 user-generated </li></ul></ul>
    9. 11. Extra course metadata <ul><li>Extra fields in the course table </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Duration </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Level </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Displayed on </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Course and category index pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Course search results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Course home page </li></ul></ul>
    10. 12. Course rating <ul><li>Rate any course </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>5 * rating </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Averaged for users </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Link to course questionnaire </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Displayed on </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Category index pages </li></ul></ul>
    11. 13. Search Engine Optimisation <ul><li>Open to more than just Google </li></ul><ul><li>Altered <title> tag structure in our themes </li></ul><ul><li>Unit tags and descriptions in <meta> in our themes </li></ul><ul><li>New URLs </li></ul><ul><ul><li> tectonics/S279_1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>XML Site map pushed to Google weekly </li></ul></ul>
    12. 14. What’s reusable? <ul><li>Moodle 2.? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>RSS feeds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Course tagging </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contrib </li></ul><ul><ul><li>FlashMeeting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compendium </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Related resources block (maybe) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Course ratings </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Advice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Extra course metadata </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Activity reports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full-text search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alternative formats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Themes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Language changes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Site map </li></ul></ul>
    13. 15. Lessons learned – the good <ul><li>Good framework to build on </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Plug-in infrastructure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Roles and permissions flexibility </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Good community </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Plenty of support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>developments coming “for free” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>availability of lead developers to discuss plans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>success in contributing back to core product </li></ul></ul>
    14. 16. Lessons learned – the bad <ul><li>Time consuming to keep up-to-date </li></ul><ul><li>Poor core code quality </li></ul><ul><li>Plug-in framework doesn’t always go far enough </li></ul><ul><li>Principles of openness not embedded </li></ul>