Moodle 2.3 is due out soon. I’ve dabbled in the QA process. Didn’t do so well, the site resets itself regularly, you really need your own site to work on. But it was good to have a look around the implementation of some of the new features. There will be a slew of blog posts coming up so no doubt. Some nice new stuff, particularly drag and drop and section conditional release.
Partial wish list
As to a few basic items: I’m in two minds. I’ve been working on a few sites from scratch, and there sure is a lot of clicking and manual work that could be easily steamlined. I get really tired!! My wish list:
- Inform an admin if someone registers in a site. Or have a list of recent self-registrations.
- Inform teacher if someone enrols in a course. Or have a list of enrolments in date order.
- Have a button at the bottom of a participants page for printing a class list. I know this goes against the grain for this day, but anyone who says this is silly has never tried to run a class with a significant number of people in it.
- If you manually create an account, how do you tell the person of their account details? Maybe a button to say “e-mail account details”
- Bulk course upload. Got 15 courses to create? Provide a CSV option.
- Disk space reports: with standard Moodle there are no basic reports to do with users and the various folder sizes, like private files, legacy course files or backups.
- Self sign up for groups
- .. there area few more I’ve thought of but can’t recall now.
I’ve made some posts recently on Moodle.org on these issues to see if there are workarounds. Sometimes there are. You will notice on my wish list the absence of things like bettwe assignments, mobile Moodle, removing MNet etc. Our priorities obviously differ. But these are pretty basis. I am not for instance asking Moodle to do odd fringe things like manage birthday greetings, look like facebook or wordpress (etc).
I know most of the time there are hidden fish-hooks the moment you start to develop design specs. Just to take one: “Inform teacher of new self-enrolments in a course”. All teachers in the course? Just non-editing teachers? Just editing teachers? Yet another table required.
Some of these requests have been around for over 5 years on he tracker, and even if we paid money for them to be developed, there is no guarantee they will get into the core. Even leaders amongst the Moodle Partners have created code that has lain dormant for many many versions. I suspect this is why the success tof a few of the Moodle versions like Joule and Totara.
What to do?
I’ve looked at the model of CLAMP: www.clamp-it.org/
Many liberal arts schools have adopted the Moodle course management system because of its low financial barriers to entry. However, supporting and contributing to the development of this open-source software project can require significant resources of both time and money. The Collaborative Liberal Arts Moodle Project (CLAMP) is an effort by several schools to support a continued and sustainable process for collaborations on Moodle development.
I’ve thought of a similar version for the sector I predominantly work in (non-profit, health, school and polytechnic). Probably won’t happen, with there being no central body to work through and it’s just to hard to set something up from scratch, or just too expensive.
My latest thought: kickstarter.
Create specifications for some of the functionality often needed and set these up as projects on Kickstarter. See what happens.
How do we decide on the specs for kickstarter projects?
The first step is to define the project. Maybe something like this:
- Define the specs, maybe get some feedback on Moodle.org I know there are easy ways and hard ways to do things.
- Put this out for tender.
- Once we have a dollar value for the project, then set up a kickstarter proect, and go for it.
For instance, two such projects could be:
NOTIFY ME!! Create an teacher block purely and simply to run cron jobs to notify of new self enrolments. Provide a way for the block to access the teachers’s details, some simple text . . and run a cron job every hour.
EASY E-MAIL ACCOUNT DETAILS: Create an admin block that each hour runs a cron job to post out e-mail detail of all the new accounts created in the last hour.
I’ve been advocating the enhanced Moodle specs for small Moodles for several years now. It was a sad day when I left the customised Moodle at the UoC which had some of these needs hacked into the core. So then it became just to hard to upgrade to 2+, and along with scores of other languish in a very nice 1.9+ install, enhanced admittedly, but still lacking many goodies from 2.
We shall see.