Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Moodle: 6th AND 7th in top 50 Open Source success stories

An excellent article at CRMChump.org identifies 50 top Open Source success stories. Moodle occupies position 6 and position 7:

6. Oodles of Moodle

In academia land, one of the more popular forms of open-source is the system known as Moodle. London, UK-based The Open University is currently in the midst of implementing Moodle to the end result of “the largest use of Moodle in the world,” namely a complete student online environment. Moodle is currently employed in some aspects of Open’s distance-learning program and the “comprehensive online student learning environment” promises to be fully operational by February.

7. Moodle at your service

Meanwhile, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Education has now in place a full-on “Moodle Service”, which acts as supplement to course material available to College of Education faculty and students and a resource to other university workgroups, workshop participants and communities.

Packt (the publisher of the bestselling Moodle book... and my employer so buy it!) gets a mention at number 20, for its open source award program:

20. Packt’s magic five

Industry-related publishing house Packt recently announced its nominees for the Packt Open Source Content Management System Award. The awards were designed to “encourage, support, recognize and reward an Open Source Content Management System that has been selected by a panel of judges and visitors. The nominees are: Drupal; e107; Joomla!; Plone; and Xoops.

From CRMchump - 50 Open Source success stories in Business, Education, and Government.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Elgg: a "CMS" for the MySpace generation.

Yesterday I mentioned Elgg as a component of OpenAcademic. It's currently by far the least popular, but it could grow to be the most interesting.

Elgg is a CMS without the "C" -- the content. Instead, the administrator focuses on providing an environment for exchanging ideas and building relationships.

Remind you of anything? Perhaps the screenshot will. Here's Elgg.net, a site that runs Elgg and is aimed at Elgg users (or other e-learning enthusiasts):

And here's the Number 6 most visited site on the web today:

OK so MySpace has a lot more going on, but you can see the similarities... user provided content all over the place, and a prominent sign up box are what social sites are all about.

MySpace promises to be "a space for friends". Elgg.net more wordily says something similar: "Passionate about education? Join others who are as well". You're not joining for content, you're joining for people and passion.

Keep your eye on Elgg. It could be the first (C)MS that really lets you build true Web 2.0 sites. The first SNMS, if you like.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

OpenAcademic brings together Moodle, Drupal, MediaWiki and Elgg

OpenAcademic is combining Moodle with Drupal, Elgg, and MediaWiki into a suite of web 2.0 learning apps for education.

In case you're unfamiliar with any of those, here's what each component does:
  • Moodle is a learning management system. It's designed to support learning by providing educational material and interaction between student and teachers. Everything is organized to support the learning objectives selected by the teacher.
  • Drupal is a content management system. Less specialized than Moodle, it's used for building just about any kind of web site. It supports forums and some community features, but the emphasis is firmly on the content.
  • Elgg I'm calling a social network management system. It creates the sort of web sites that work by bringing users together and letting them share things, rather than by giving visitors access to pre-prepared content. Elgg is specialized for letting groups form with shared learning objectives and interests, and perhaps working together on group projects. Elgg can create networks within a particular site (a single school), or connect sites together, or create public groups on the internet.
  • MediaWiki is the powerful wiki software behind Wikipedia, and most of the other big wikis out there. A wiki lets users collaborate to produce an ever-improving massive web site. In a wiki, each individual's identity is pretty unimportant. The finished site usually results from many people making small changes, almost anonymously.
Using OpenAcademic you could have virtual classes running in Moodle and the school web site running on Drupal (with individual teachers or even students looking after certain pages and sections). Elgg could enable students to collaborate on projects of special interest to them, with like-minded students from schools all over the world. And a school wiki could... well, is there anything a wiki can't do? ;)

More info on OpenAcademic
Drupal and Moodle together? Really? Really. answers just why you'd want to link these tools together, and not just choose one or the other.
About us gives a fuller description of the suite and what it's for.

Visit these products' homepages:
Moodle (and check out the Packt book)
Drupal (and check out the Packt book)
Elgg (or see this Elgg site about Elgg, which will give you a great idea of what it's all about)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Choosing between Moodle, Wiki, or Blog software

Wesley Fryer posts at Techlearning Blog: "which web 2.0 tool is appropriate for which educational tasks?"

He discusses wikis, blogs, and Moodle in depth, and gives some great ideas for using wikis and blogs in the classroom.

However he also concludes that if Moodle is available, use it. It does everything blogs and wikis do... and more!
My recommendation is that if a classroom teacher can, s/he should start using web 2.0 tools by using Moodle. Moodle offers SO MUCH, and once a teacher has a Moodle course it is relatively easy to add additional features. Use of Moodle can exemplify a goal of blending learning between face-to-face (F2F) and virtual environments. By using the latest release of Moodle, a teacher doesn't have to decide between "blog or wiki." Students can explore these tools alongside their teacher and discover via their own experiences what the relative benefits and drawbacks are to each tool.
From Techlearning Blog [via Moving at the Speed of Creativity]

Friday, October 27, 2006

Review: A more technical perspective

Alan Berg at Free Software Magazine writes a more techy review than I've previously seen.

Impressively practical and accurate, this books 250 pages of straightforward and easy to understand text is another effective book from the PACKT publishing stable. Rice writes in such a way that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to follow along and create an interactive website and fill it with content.

William Rice has written a clear explanation of the core details required to get a working instance of Moodle off the ground with solid course content backing. I particularly like the fact that it has so many screen grabs, making the walkthroughs transparent and obvious, even to me.

A lot of the review discusses the book from the point of view of an open source advocate and expert. If you're more technically minded (embracing rather than running from terms like PHP, programming, and Apache), this review might push your buttons.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Moodle now more popular than doodle. Noodle remains in the lead.

Google Trends shows how often various words are searched for. According to the latest results, Moodle is now searched for more often than "doodle"... but "noodle" has surged ahead since mid 2006:

Review: "Packt's Moodle is a fantastic resource, although the title is a bit misleading..."

Another review, this time from the E-Learning Queen. Key quotes:
I would imagine that every institution that is using Moodle (or considering it) will want to buy a copy of this manual for every person on their tech team.
Packt's Moodle is a fantastic resource, although the title is a bit misleading. It is, in reality, a technical manual for using Moodle. It has very little to say about e-learning, except in the sense that it is implicit that learning via Moodle is e-learning.
Thanks for the kind words your majesty!

William and I wanted to develop a book that acted as a technical manual and also provided e-learning advice. There are posts on Moodle.org that suggest we got this right for some readers. I guess the e-learning theory was pretty basic for an e-learning specialist, and the review contains great ideas for follow ups:
... it does not include any elements of instructional design that would allow a user to start developing courses that are pedagogically sound in terms of commonly accepted best practices for e-learning. Further, it does not contain templates for typical courses, which would also be quite valuable for institutions that would be most likely to be interested in open-source learning management systems.