Oh, How I Love Moodle!

I don’t talk as much about any one web tool more than Moodle. I upgraded Catlin’s version to 1.6 today and loved both the install process and the new features. The only hangup was that the installer could not find the installation at [host]/moodle until I moved the site to moodle.[host]. The rest went swimmingly.

Block flexibility is easier than I remember. You can just about any kind of information to a new block in the right-hand column. This is especially exciting for the blog and rss features. For instance, new blog content from your class or club could automatically appear there.

LDAP authentication was easy and highly configurable. Users log in with their userids but are identified by their real names, lending additional humanity to the site.

In the last few days, I thought I was going to install some combination of Elgg, Drupal and Moodle as the foundation for Catlin’s new internal web site. Now, I feel like I can accomplish everything I need to start the year with Moodle alone. It’s flexible enough to provide a collaborative communication space for different groups of people within the school, such as classes, clubs, and people with other common interests.

Teachers can choose what type of web space they want, from simple web site with one editable content block to a rich online home with all major appliances. I like to cite three examples of extremely different Moodle sites created by teachers at my previous school: one science teacher posted scanned solutions to physics problems, another had students write a common position statement using the wiki module, and a third posted PDF resources for a health class by topic.

Version 1.6 appears to allow users to request a new course, which could be very handy, but I couldn’t find that feature when logged in as a student. Does anyone know where it is? This is a useful piece, because I can’t make a new teacher into a course instructor until he/she has logged into Moodle once and the local user account has been generated.

I browsed the Moodle modules today (lots of quality there). Here is the list of my initial thoughts of what modules to install.

Activity Module: Gallery
The Gallery module allows for the embedded use of Gallery2. For each Gallery instance in Moodle, a Gallery2 album is created. The two are linked automatically and when one enters a Gallery instance, it will appear as if that user has a blank album to upload pictures, create new sub-albums, add comments, etc.
(strange that this is not also available as a block)

Block: Elgg integration block
provides SSO with elgg and a means to transfer submissions to online assignments from moodle to an eportfolio system, namely elgg.

Activity Module: iPodcast
A podcasting module for Moodle that allows for full iTunes integration. Have your teachers create podcasts quickly and easily from the Moodle interface and have it available to students/listeners all round the world.
(I would rather publish podcasts directly from Moodle — I wonder whether it works automatically if you attach an audio file to a blog post?)

Authentication Method: NTLM Authentication Plugin
The plugin enables single sign-on and uses a modifed version of the LDAP module to allow users inside your network to use NTLM-LDAP, and users outside your network to use normal Moodle form-LDAP
(a possible alternative or companion to LDAP)

Block: Portfolio block
This pluggable portfolio module tracks artifact titles, keywords, tags (“concept areas”), and student reflections, and presents the user with a menu and search-box driven interface to list portfolio items to which the current user has “read access”; items are viewable in simple boxes that present the title, owning user, content, reflections, origin, and date together. Two plugins have been written, so that artifacts may be submitted through the repository module or through submitted assignments.
(I would love to test the difference between this and Elgg portfolios)

Algebra filter
This filter will convert Algebra code into nice GIF images. It requires the tex filter to be installed.

Now I just have to work more on my template modifications.

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