This week, Strathclyde hosted the annual Moodle Moot for UK and Ireland. Moodle Moots are essentially spaces for the Moodle community, partners and users to get together, collaborate and share examples of best practice. They also involve a party or too!
Moodle and Me
I have been a fan of Moodle ever since using it to build this learning platform for the education charity Thrive. Because Moodle is open source, I was able to build, configure and customise the site for free. Also there are literally hundreds of excellent Moodle plugins to enrich and extend the virtual learning environment. And despite having quite a basic understanding of web development, HTML and coding, I was able to find answers to most of my questions on the excellent forums at moodle.org. Not bad, Moodle. Not bad at all.
MyPlace, Strathclyde’s learning environment is a branded version of Moodle. So it is fair to say that my colleagues and I all ‘Moodle’ to a greater or lesser extent. But this was my first time at a Moodle Moot.
Moodle Moot Uk & Ireland 2018
The Moot kicked off with a keynote address by Martin Dougiamas on the future direction of Moodle. Martin described the company’s mission of empowering educators to improve their world. He spoke about the importance of sustainability and Moodle’s core values of education, openness, respect, integrity and innovation. There are also some interesting developments in the pipeline. These include plugins to help with GDPR and Project MoodleNet. Martin also dropped the most tweetable quote of the conference, and one that I am likely to rinse in the future:
“In the middle between the technological and the pedagogical, that’s where all the interesting stuff happens”
As an Academic Developer, the presentations that made the biggest impact me were the ones focussed on teaching practice. In this regard, discussions of competencies, using HP5 to add HTML5 content to courses and active flipped learning were particularly useful.
Like all conferences with concurrent sessions, I missed a few papers that looked really interesting. I would have loved to hear Marcus Green present on peer assessment, which is something my colleagues at Strathclyde have done successfully for many years. And I missed hearing Strathclyde’s own Iain Todd discussing how to build an enterprise level Moodle system.
One of the most refreshing features of the conference was the atmosphere of collaboration. At various points, participants were invited to share their successes but also their challenges and wishes for Moodle.
A number of themes came up, which will probably resonate with anyone who delivers learning in a virtual environment: First of all, how to facilitate peer support, community practice and collaboration? How to encourage active participation and engage learners? And how to design courses that are visually appealing and support a good learner experience?
These are all questions that sit in that interesting place between technology and pedagogy. And as such, bring us back to the importance of sharing practice within our institutions. The fact that Moodle has spawned a global community of practitioners and promotes this posture of learning is to the credit of people like Martin Dougiamas. And I certainly left the conference with new ideas, things to try, and questions to explore with my colleagues at Strathclyde.
I am an Academic Developer in the Organisational and Staff Development Unit at the University of Strathclyde. My interests include using technology and social media to enhance learning and issues around digital citizenship, health and well-being.