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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


We’re looking at you, Moodle 2

By Matt Jenner, on 7 April 2011

Moodle 2 logo (c) Moodle.orgAnyone who is as fanatical about Moodle as we are (or maybe just me) will know that the latest and greatest version was released late last year. It was hailed as ‘the answer’ to many of the requests of vast community of users and that of the technical developers too. It’s safe to say that as much as we love Moodle, some parts are a little funny-looking to say the least. One thing to note is that Moodle 2 might not look much different to Moodle 1 (although we’re planning a facelift!) If you know Moodle already you will pick up Moodle 2 in no time. The thing about Moodle is that it’s designed for education, although sometimes it’s hard to see past its pedagogical principles when all you want to do is upload a file and share it quickly!

Well, thankfully the 13-odd steps it takes to upload a file have changed, and these changes are coming to Moodle 2. A list of notable changes is below, but this is only the beginning. UCL is taking a good look at Moodle 2 and the opportunity to work with the UCL community to make this upgrade a chance to sit back and think about what Moodle offers UCL, what we can change, what needs promotion and what need attention. We will be publishing more details on this in the coming months, and asking if your department would like a roadshow where we come over and spend some time talking about e-learning with Moodle, hearing your thoughts, showing some exciting new stuff and generally making sure we are listening to everyone to make Moodle better than ever before.  Just get in contact with us if you’re interested – contact details here.

New features coming to Moodle 2:

Major new features

  • Repository support
  • Portfolio support
  • Course completion, prerequisites & conditional activities
  • Cohorts
  • Web services support
  • New blocks

Major improvements to existing core features

  • Blocks
  • Blogs
  • Comments
  • Enrolment plugins
  • File handling
  • Filters 2.0
  • HTML editor
  • Messaging
  • My Moodle page
  • Navigation
  • Ratings
  • Roles and permissions
  • RSS feeds
  • Themes
  • Translation system
  • User profile pages

Major improvements to activity modules

  • Lesson
  • Quiz module and question bank
  • Resource
  • Wiki
  • Workshop

We understand there is a lot in this list, and please forgive us for not knowing everything about all the new features instantly. For now if you are really keen you’ll need to check the official Moodle 2 Release Notes from Moodle.org – in time we will be publishing more details about these new features and how they’ll sit within UCL Moodle.

We’re quite excited, we hope you will be too.

Moodle statistics – browsers

By Matt Jenner, on 28 February 2011

UCL Moodle sees in excess of 30,000 visitors per day at the moment and with this number of people coming along it produces some interesting statistics to look over and try to see any patterns which can be addressed. One of which was that Safari is now the most popular web browser accessing the site. With this in mind we published some advice about using the browser, as Safari and Moodle don’t necessarily play well together.

For those who are interested, here are some statistics:

Moodle browser statistics

One thing you may notice is the rather rapid descent of Internet Explorer, going from a 55% share and 24 months later coming second in top from Safari – an unlikely outsider. Strangely the adoption of Firefox – a free and open source browser seems to initially correlate with that of IE, each notice in May/June 2009 where IE slumps, Firefox seems to take a reflective ascent. The same happens again in April 2010.

There is also an interesting growth in Apple’s Safari. Perhaps new students arriving with laptops for study (August 2010) and another, perhaps less mysterious increase in December 2011 is Christmas?

One thing to note is that Google’s Chrome is a steady grower in the browser area. Opera (a very powerful browser) isn’t used much at all and other/mobile devices barely try to access Moodle at all. Just to note; we are looking to a iOS and Android mobile Moodle very soon! We will keep you updated.

Just what is open source anyway? A coat hook?

By Matt Jenner, on 19 January 2011

Moodle, Myportfolio (Mahara), Apache, Linux & Ardunio – all these things have something in common, they’re all Open Source. But what exactly does this mean? In the most simple form, it means you can get under the hood and change whatever you don’t like or what doesn’t work for you. so it’s customisable. But more so than just changing some settings, you have 100% control (generally) over everything it does and how it operates. You also get it for ‘free’ (a loosly defined term for no cost to aquire).

A wonderful documentry called Arduino The Documentary (2010) is about an open source piece of hardware which utilises an open source piece of software (Processing) to create a device which is changing the way people see hardware. If you need an example before you spend 30 minutes of your life watching this, then the video contains the following:

  • A group of dedicated individuals with a vision of how we can create our own worlds around us
  • An open source coat hook
  • How to turn a dream into a reality
  • How money means less than dedication
  • How you can build your own 3D printer
  • That anyone can do the above and more…

Watch it!


Daniel Artemendi

“Its future will not be technological, it qill be quite more social; it will be some kinds of big boom where a lot of people will start using it. “