Dublin again! Happy memories of the 2012 and 2013 Moodlemoots in this fair city (which, in fact, I liked so much I am returning to next week with my son for a mini-break). Magnificently organised once more by Gavin Henrick supported by Dublin City University and the National Institute for Digital Learning, this year’s Moot trod new ground in that it had an HQ input courtesy of our Research Director Michael De Raadt. The idea was that, before the regular two day conference with keynotes and presentations (short ones – I like short presentations!) there would be Working groups where interested parties could discuss improvements they would like made to core Moodle – and the day after the conference, the usual developer “hackfest” would prioritise making those improvements happen.
So- on Monday 11th May, I joined the “Dashboard” working group ably chaired by (the now bearded) Mark Glynn, while in the room next to us, discussions were being had over how to simplify the many forms admins and teachers have to complete during user, course and activity creation. I found my working group a very valuable experience because those present were happy to share their own organisations’ dashboard (“My home”) customisations, and for someone who has only ever seen Moodle’s default, I learned a lot, and we came up with a number of good suggestions.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the two days of presentations were possibly some of the best I had ever seen. I think one reason for this could well be the judicious choice of keynotes (Dr Bart Rienties of the OU on Learning Analytics and our very own Dr Michael De Raadt on Personalised Learning and Moodle. Oh and there was also @moodler himself, Martin Dougiamas who included in his presentation information about the new Moodle Association. A meeting was held later about this too. A second reason for the quality of presentations might be the fact that they had to be 15 minutes long -no time for waffling! I found this very refreshing. I was also impressed to note how few presenters just “read their bullet points” and how many had useful screenshots and key points to elaborate on. Pecha Kuchas were certainly a popular choice despite their scary nature – Petrify- Kuchas as Eamon Costello dubbed them. I enjoyed them all, especially the ones where you laugh and learn.. No doubting they are an excellent way of getting across your message concisely. I did a Pecha Kucha on the new improved Lesson activity – slideshare here:
along with a 15 minute presentation on What We are Learning from Learn Moodle, the HQ-run MOOC Teaching with Moodle: An Introduction. We’ll be starting up again on August 9th so if you know any beginners, please tell them to sign up.
Rather than listing all the presentations I saw or regretting the ones I couldn’t see because I was in the other stream, I will simply mention a couple of things which according to tweeters and attendees were the Moot highlights:
- great stuff being done to make Moodle attractive and (dare I say it) less “Moodley” looking. One in particular is the stunning United for Wildlife site.
- DCU’s purpose built Relative grades feature – something discussed in our Dashboard working group and presented during the main conference too. I can see this being extremely useful in all stages of education, to teacher, student or both.
In terms of extra-curricular highlights – the endless pastries with morning and afternoon coffee, free Irish chocolates, Jelly Beans and the superb Gala Dinner at the Crowne Plaza hotel all made for an excellent atmosphere in which to network, talk Moodle and generally add extra inches to the waistline. I appreciated the chance to meet up with HQ people I don’t often see – as well as Martin, Michael and Business Analyst Danny Bonta, there was Plugins Liaison Manager David Mudrak (pictured below in front of a top class infographic ) and Integrator Dan Poltawski who actually only lives 20 minutes away from me but whom I think I haven’t met in person since 2011. David and Dan both gave interesting presentations on plugins and continuous integration respectively, valuable insights into the workings of Moodle HQ.
It was also good to meet up with other Moodle people whom I only see at Moots, and to make new friends. If we spent some time chatting, you know who you are, and it was great to talk to you
I left a lunchtime on Thursday, mid-way through the hackfest but for the rest of the day I was watching Moodle being literally improved tweet by tweet. Kudos to all, and especial thanks again to Gavin Henrick Mootmeister General, and the kind, capable and extremely clever Karen and Jane