Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Moodle as the hub of a learning ecosystem...

Sounds kinda cool doesn't it? But what does it actually mean?

@moodler (Martin Dougiamas) in the #mootieuk12 Moodle Moot Conference talked about an ecosystem of tools. We are used to having one tool for social/ social networking, one tool for work/ social networking or personal filestore, another for personal learning, and we may want to bring elements of them all into our Moodle course page (but not all of everything..) Hmm. We may also want the other side of the coin, and to display that data in different courses, but not duplicating effort, or having to version control everything all the time...

LTI appears to be the answer to some of this. Learning Tools Interoperability. Bringing content from other areas into the Moodle course. It seems that this is a neat way of:
  1. Using Moodle to make a sustainable resource outside of moodle from one or multiple moodle courses - example: Creating an Annotated Bibliography Database (db activity I hear you say.. but what about the 'user data' problem - cannot share (backup/ restore) this with other moodle courses without losing comments)
  2. Bringing another tool into several moodle courses (is this the same as 1 - no, because this is not about building an external resource from within moodle, this is about using a resource - example: I want to use a Sakai tool, or the QuestionMark Perception quizzing tool, or I have my own website with physics animations and tests that I want to use in Moodle)
  3. Having a live connection with a document stored in another repository. So I update once externally and this updates all my moodle courses. @moodler says this is in the pipe and I will update on progress here.
 So what else is meant by a learning ecosystem and how can moodle be used to engage with our external things? here are some ideas from the Social Networking Bootcamp at Moodle Moot 2012.

Send your discussion forum (latin scholars: is this 'fora'?) entries to facebook using RSS, bring your twitter feed into Moodle using html block, RSS your Wordpress blog into Moodle using Feedburner to send only certain 'categories' of entries (so your moodle classmates don't have to hear your views on politics, fashion etc.)

Why do I want to do all this? Well, you may be doing a professional course, where you need to engage with professionals outside the course, so moodle tools are not very good as we will not be able to engage with folk outside the Moodle Walled Garden. We may have a blog or a Community of Practice that we want recognition for, and want to take this away at the end of the course. We don't want to lose our user data as soon as our access to moodle is removed.
Even if you are not doing a professional course as outlined above, it seems good practice for learning to allow the learning to continue after the moodle course is finished and assessment is complete. Learning for life, not Learning for quals etc.

but what are the problems with the reliance on external tools, either LTI enabled or not?
  • With my institutional hat on, I see support problems down the road ("my tutor says use wordpress for blogging, but I cannot seem to post this entry, what shall I do?" - how far can we support these?)
  • With my OER hat on, how can I rely on the continuity of these external tools. I want my course to be useful to all forever, so reliance on external websites and tools for content seems unsustainable, unless I control all the external content.