Exciting times…

Getting towards summer now when many think of education getting quiet… for me it’s anything but, lots of new developments this week!

Moodle 2.3 finally landed and it looks to have been worth the wait. This one finally makes 2.x look like a finished product and sorts out the usability annoyances that have bugged Moodle users since the dawn of time. Drag and drop upload is awesome and combined with AJAX makes moving resources around courses so much simpler. The only gotcha to watch out for is that it’s not going to work on IE8 so XP users will need to use Chrome or Firefox.

Book module finally makes it into the core at last, had a little niggle with my Aardvark theme where in the name of clean design it hid the hide navigation menu but sorted that by adding a “post” region to the theme’s config.php file. Just checking back on the Moodle forum there’s a fixed config.php file available now that incorporates a couple of other pages that needed sorting, get it here http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=201585#p898105

While at the JISC e-factor 2012 event I found out that a new version of the ULCC ILP block will be coming soon as well. Perfect timing for us as we continue to build our new Moodle and Mahara sites. Check out the e-factor site http://moodle.rsc-london.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=110 as there were some really useful presentations on the day which should be up there soon.

And finally as if that little lot wasn’t enough Microsoft officially released Office 365 for education, will be getting that on my demo domain shortly for more testing.

My initial thoughts are that it has potential and there’s some interesting products in there (Lync particularly has caught my eye) but that the amount of space per student (500MB!) is poor compared to Google. Some might say that’s still plenty of space for documents but after seeing some colleges using Google Apps as a student e-portfolio I think that space could get used up very quickly so will be interesting to see how it pans out.

Also a bit uncertain about the use of Sharepoint right now as the interface isn’t the friendliest out the box, although it does seem easier to get at from within Windows which is a bonus. Quite a few people on the web demos I attended were asking for Moodle integration… a repository API for Sharepoint would be perfect, just need someone to make it happen now (remember MS that you can do this very easily with Google Docs right now…)

Next week I’m hoping to have my production Moodle 2.3 + Mahara sites up and running ready to start building course category structures and update my training courses for staff… let the fun begin!


6 Responses to Exciting times…

  1. Kevin Hunt says:

    Do you know if Office 365 will be compatbile with the Live Services plug-in for Moodle 2 ?

    • gshaw0 says:

      Hi Kevin,

      I doubt it, first problem being authentication; Office 365 is moving away from Live IDs so the part of the block would need to be rewritten for it to be able to log in to the service. On top of that it also needs updating to work with the new Outlook.com URL changes Microsoft have made recently.

      Having tried the Moodle 2.x version of the Live block and being rather disappointed by it (sloppy design and some parts are broken) I think it needs a lot of work. For me it needs to have an ADFS authentication plugin, email support as it is now and a respository API to access Office 365 Sharepoint storage.

      I know Microsoft would prefer us all to dump Moodle and use Office 365 Sharepoint instead but that’s not realistic for the majority of us and given the integration Google Apps has out of the box it’s only the familiarity factor that goes in MS favour at present. That’s a shame as a properly sorted Windows \ Office 365 \ Moodle combo would be a fantastic mix of local and cloud services.

  2. Brad says:

    Let us know if you ever figure out a Single Sign on Solution for Office365, Moodle, and Mahara.

    • gshaw0 says:

      Hi Brad,

      What features are you looking for from an SSO solution?

      Would an entry point from Office 365 to Moodle be enough or are you looking for something deeper e.g. access 365 docs from the Moodle file picker, email block etc?

      • Brad says:

        The first would be a good start, but having access to docs from within Moodle would be even better. I had been working on going with the Live@edu plugins which do both SSO and access to skydrive, etc…but now it appears the rules are changing on me before I can get it done. I’m also in a country that hasn’t gotten approval for Office365 yet, so I’m kind of in limbo.

      • gshaw0 says:

        Access from a landing page into 365 \ Moodle is possible, will have a bit more on that soon but the repository is still a while off I think. What country are you in? Not sure if you have a Microsoft Education representative you could contact to find out how long Live@Edu will stay the same for you in terms of the authentication system etc.

        As for the Live block in Moodle 2.x, it works but watch out for…

        a) don’t put it onto a course page as it breaks AJAX drag and drop
        b) last time I checked it wasn’t saving the impersonation string in the settings block, only way to configure it was to edit the database table manually
        c) logout message was poorly written and looked a bit unfinished (depends how fussy you are about the look and feel of your site)
        d) login page can’t be co-branded anymore and just looks like a standard Windows Live login screen

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