And for those people out of the UK – that means – the Moodle User Group in the North West of England of the Regional Support Centre of JISC, a body that helps out post 16 education establishments. (Here’s their link) I was owed some Time Off In Lieu today, so I thought what nicer a thing to do than go and meet some other local Moodle enthusiasts and talk Moodle over a free lunch!
Hopping on a train from Preston to the Wigan Investment Centre – pleasant surroundings on the canal side – I was there in half an hour, and chatting over coffee to the lovely Frances Hill from Oldham College - in French to the surprise of our table-mates- as she’s a linguist too, and had seen I’d put my Moodle.org profile in French.
This was my first time at such an event although I have been on their mailing list for a while, and it was Great! Why? Because the speaker were genuine users of Moodle showing us inside their real courses at their colleges – a true flavour of Moodle. Admittedly we had a sales pitch from James(?) of Pedagogue but he did have a lovely Welsh lilt so was easy on the ear! After that we heard from Frank McHale at Preston College, just down the road from me, and later on from Frances who talked about different ways of using Moodle with adults, and then Ivor Wood from Southport College whose Moodle was both beautiful and also very up to date on safeguarding issues. I could have kicked myself – metaphorically – when Anita Holt – another welcome new contact- announced at the start she’d struggled and failed to find anyone to speak about Moodle 2.0! But it was probably just as well, as I would doubtless have rattled on for so long the chips would have gone cold! I did feel somewhat shameful in the workshop session over lunch though when requested by Chrissie Turkington that each table write on their big flip chart sheet “ten things you have found out about Moodle 2.0″ After scribbling down fifteen in as many seconds and Ivor asking if this was a competition, I thought I’d better leave it and hand over the felt tip pen… The ensuing discussion was very valuable however, as it highlighted the concerns many establishments have with the move to Moodle 2.0 We were prompted to suggest the three main elements which would dictate when we would make that move. Most delegates had similar lists – such as when their particular contributed modules would be upgraded*; when individual 1.9 courses could be backed up to 2.0 reliably ( rather than using the cool but unofficial workaround Conversionthingie.net) or when their college’s personalised theme had been rewritten. There were concerns too about staff retraining -and the timing of the training relating to the timing of the move. No point coming back to a shiny new Moodle 2.0 if your staff haven’t learned how to navigate it – and cope with its lack of course files. On the positive side, the better security, repositories and brand new features of Moodle 2.0 were seen as factors that, long term, would make the transition well worth while. But perhaps not just yet.. My only regret was that it ended mid afternoon – I wish we’d gone on all day! I look forward to continuing the discussions online.
* Here is the link to the tracker on contrib module progress I mentioned.