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Timeline, our Moodle-Integrated Social Network Alex Walker


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Timeline, our Moodle-Integrated Social Network Alex Walker
Presented at Moodlemoot Edinburgh 2014

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Timeline, our Moodle-Integrated Social Network Alex Walker

  1. 1. Timeline: Our Moodle Integrated Social Network Alex Walker City of Glasgow College
  2. 2. The Point Of This Talk • What we did, and why we did it. • What we learned in the process. • How we built Timeline - it's easy. • We can't release our system - it's tightly integrated with our systems.
  3. 3. The Point Of This Talk • Raise discussion about notifications. • How does this benefit our learners? • Could we build this as a Moodle block? • Should we?
  4. 4. The City of Glasgow College • 11 campuses in Glasgow city centre. • 32,000 students and 1,000 staff. • 10 academic schools, each with several departments.
  5. 5. The City of Glasgow College • Lots of support staff departments and projects. • Communication overload is becoming an issue at the college. • No clear communication policy.
  6. 6. College Web Presences
  7. 7. College Web Presences
  8. 8. The City of Glasgow College
  9. 9. Communication • Too many places to get information. • Lecturers can post announcements to students using News Forums. • These get emailed to students. • Students don't check their email.
  10. 10. The Birth of Timeline • Build a page in Moodle that pulls all a user's announcements from all their courses onto one page. • Like a 'My Moodle' page on steroids. • Why don't we just use the My Moodle page?
  11. 11. The Birth of Timeline
  12. 12. The Birth of Timeline • We have a lot of 'all student' courses with information about the college. • The My Moodle page, by default, only shows 20 courses. • Our My Moodle page is full of these information courses. Real courses don't show up.
  13. 13. The First Pilot • Showed forum posts from courses. • Showed user-to-user messages. • Simple PHP page that lived inside a block. • Queried the database live - didn't scale well.
  14. 14. The First Pilot
  15. 15. The First Pilot • The idea proved popular with users. • 600 users actively checking Timeline within the first 3 weeks. • Silent launch, with no promotion or announcement.
  16. 16. Timeline 2.0 • Timeline expanded and relaunched in summer 2013. • Now capable of pulling lots of data from Moodle, Mahara etc. • Pulls updates into its own database. • Scales very well - currently 12,787 active users and 135,859 updates.
  17. 17. Timeline 2.0 Upcoming assessment deadlines Department news pages Pages I follow Post a new update News Feed
  18. 18. Timeline 2.0
  19. 19. Timeline 2.0
  20. 20. What Timeline Shows • Forum posts from courses (both news forums and normal forums). • Moodle user-to-user messages. • Mahara friend requests and group membership updates. • Notifications when a lecturer grades assignments - with feedback!
  21. 21. Timeline 2.0
  22. 22. Timeline 2.0
  23. 23. Department Pages • Several departments and projects have 'pages' on Timeline. • Team members can post to a Timeline page. • Users can follow a page to receive updates in their news feed.
  24. 24. Department Pages
  25. 25. Department Pages
  26. 26. User Profiles • Users also have their own profile. • User profiles are private by default. • Users can make their profiles public, then other users can follow them.
  27. 27. User Profiles
  28. 28. Timeline 2.0
  29. 29. Why have notifications? • 'New Notifications' is a feature that's becoming popular on sites. • Users know at-a-glance if anything new has happened. • Promotes 'stickiness', keeps people coming back.
  30. 30. Notifications
  31. 31. Notifications
  32. 32. Notifications
  33. 33. Notifications
  34. 34. Notifications
  35. 35. Notifications
  36. 36. Notifications
  37. 37. Notifications • Be very careful with notification sounds. • What happens when you post an announcement to all students? • Every computer in every classroom starts making the same sound, while lecturers are teaching. • Cue angry phone calls...
  38. 38. How We Built Timeline • Timeline has its own database. • This lets us cache events for speed, and deliver them to the right people efficiently. • With MySQL indexes on tables, Timeline scales very well.
  39. 39. Event Harvesters • Events are added to Timeline by Harvester scripts. • These scripts read records from other systems' databases, and save events to Timeline. • Scheduled to run every minute through Cron.
  40. 40. Event Harvesters Timeline Database Moodle Messages Forum Posts Mahara Friend Requests Mahara Messages Other Things Mahara Database Moodle Database ! !! ! !
  41. 41. Scopes • Each Timeline event has a scope attached to it. • Users have many scopes, based on which courses they belong to (etc). • A event is delivered to everybody on its scope.
  42. 42. How We Built Timeline 123 MF awalker Test Forum Post ... C-1234 awalker C-1234 C-1234 C-1234 C-1234 C-1234 ghowie auser ahannah jteller This update came from the Moodle course with ID 1234. Its scope is C-1234. These users are enrolled on the Moodle course with ID 1234. So they're added to the scope C-1234.
  43. 43. How We Built Timeline 123 MF awalker Test Forum Post ... C-1234 awalker C-1234 C-1234 C-1234 C-1234 C-1234 ghowie auser ahannah jteller This post is for these users
  44. 44. What Is An Event? Field Description Data Type Sample ID Uniquely identifies events. Number 1037 user The person, responsible for the event, if any. String awalker type The type of the event. Helps us display the event. String CF - Moodle msgs MF - Forum posts text Displayed when an event is shown to the user. String This is a test message posted on course 123. time The date and time the event happened. Date Time 2014-01-26 11:30:26 scope The scope this event will be delivered to. String C-123 location The place where the event took place (e.g. the forum ID) String 253
  45. 45. Outputting Events These are generated based on the location ID. The location data lets us link to the forum.
  46. 46. Timeline Blindness Things users want to see Things our staff want to send to all users
  47. 47. Timeline Blindness Things users want to see Things our staff want to send to all users
  48. 48. What We've Learned • Staff can't post things to all users. • We'll make them a page to post on, and users can follow this page. • It's up to them to promote their page, but we can help.
  49. 49. What We've Learned
  50. 50. What We've Learned If you give students something they could use to post silly messages... ...they will!
  51. 51. What We've Learned
  52. 52. The Future of Timeline • Integration with other services, e.g. library management system. • Filters - students can choose to only get alerts for certain types of event. • Better ways to target specific groups of students.
  53. 53. Questions Alex Walker City of Glasgow College