Moodle 2.0 not a slave to fashion

Moodle somehow continues to fly under the radar. Its features have consistently been designed and developed for teachers and learners, making it one of the pieces of software best matched to education. The latest version eschews recent Internet fashion trends — no social networking or microblog here. Instead, Moodle 2.0 focuses on sharing and accessing content.

On playing with a test installation, I find that three of Moodle’s new features really stand out.

Community hubs

Call this “sharing courses.” The hubs allow one to publish courses to the web or import courses as templates. This makes it possible for our school to be part of a community of schools sharing courses. It also lowers the bar to teachers getting started with Moodle, allowing them to start from a populated course template rather than a completely empty page.

Repository support

The “add file” and “add link” interfaces have been supercharged. Users can directly access local files, network volumes, Google Docs, YouTube, Flickr, and more. This is a major development! Users can create content in the tools of their choice or search for publicly available content to include in the Moodle. This greatly expands the range of learning activities that Moodle can handle. The interface is so easy to use. Bravo!

Portfolio support

Same idea here. Users can select items from Moodle to publish in external portfolio systems. This just makes sense. Use Moodle for the daily work of a class and then publish exemplary pieces of work to the portfolio system.

What doesn’t stand out? Graphic design and layout. Moodle will apparently always look like Moodle, notwithstanding the new themes that have been created for version 2.0.

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