In a previous blog post, we discussed the plans for the coming transition to Moodle 2 as the CLE’s linchpin learning management system. The Moodle 2 pilot will be getting underway in December 2012. So we are getting close. In this post, we will highlight some of the exciting new features and enhancements in Moodle 2.
Conditional Release — So nice to have you back!
Let’s start with what just might be the most welcome Moodle 2 feature — Conditional Release. Many of you may remember that we used to have a similar feature in WebCT, where it was called Selective Release. We lost the capability to selectively release course content and activities — by date or other conditions — when we migrated to Moodle in 2008. With the new Conditional Release feature in Moodle 2, instructors will be able to release individual resources, entire course sections, and activities based on date or grade conditions. As an instructor, you will be able to add content ahead of the time you want your students to access it and schedule the release for a later date. Content can also be added that will only be available to students who meet certain grade conditions. For example, perhaps an instructor wants to make remedial content available only to students who score below a certain threshold on a quiz. With Conditional Release, this is possible.
New File Management System
How files and resources are managed represent the biggest changes to come to Moodle 2. This deserves its own blog post, which it will get in the near future. For now, we will highlight some of the more intriguing new features.
Drag and Drop: Instructors can now add files and resources to their courses by simply dragging and dropping files right onto the course home page. In addition, just about every Add File dialog within Moodle 2 now supports drag and drop. Adding files and resources is much simpler than it used to be.
Repositories: With Moodle 2, we will be able to connect a wide variety of repositories, such as Dropbox, Google Docs, YouTube, Flickr and many others. With these connections, you will be able to add content to your courses that actually resides in other repositories. And in a growing number of cases, you can simply link to these files rather than copy them over to your Moodle course. Another built-in repository is Server Files. These are files you have used in other courses. Instead of having to re-upload the same file to a new course, you can now link to the same file that is stored in another course. And if you should delete the file in first course, Moodle 2 is smart enough to automatically copy the file over to the second course. Pretty spiffy! There is also the Private Files repository. All users in Moodle 2 have their own Private Files area where they can store files they want to use in their courses. Instructors can store course content; students can save forum attachments or assignment submissions to Private Files.
Quiz Module — Better quiz building and navigation
A number of significant enhancements have been added to the Moodle 2 Quiz module. The navigation interface that students encounter has been greatly improved. This interface in the current version we are running — Moodle 1.9 — is rather clunky. The inclusion of the Quiz Navigation block in Moodle 2 should really improve the quiz-taking experience. In one consistent place, students will see how many questions are in the quiz, how much time might be remaining, which questions they have answered, and which questions they have flagged (for review later). And when students submit their quiz, they see an “attempt summary” page where they can quickly see which questions still need to be answered. Submitting quiz attempts is now much clearer.
There are enhancements for instructors, too. There are new quiz behaviors, such as adaptive mode, where a question can adapt to a response by giving hints before asking the student to try again. Certainty-based marking (CBM) is also now available, where students can indicate how confident they are in their answer. The mark is adjusted by the certainty level, so students have to reflect honestly on their own level of knowledge in order to get the best mark.
The quiz building interface has also been overhauled. It now provides instructors with a much cleaner quiz building experience. Ordering pages is now much simpler. The question bank interface has also been greatly enhanced.
Updated User Interface
A number of important improvements have been made to the overall user interface. Moodle 2 brings new Navigation and Settings blocks where users can more easily navigate through their courses and update their settings. Blocks also remain consistent as users navigate through their courses. Another intriguing feature is the ability to dock and undock page elements, like blocks. You can now decide, for example, if you want the Settings block to appear in your courses all the time. You can now undock the blocks, but still have quick access to them from the left margin. Moodle 2 puts more control in the hands of individual users in how they experience Moodle and their courses.
Moodle 2 is built with mobile use in mind. Themes can be designed that take advantage of the screen sizes available on smartphones and tablets. Moodle 2 can detect what kind of device you are using and serve the appropriate theme. Upcoming versions will do an even better job, taking advantage of responsive design to deliver an even better mobile experience. The screenshot below shows how a Moodle 2.3 course looks on an iPad using the built-in tablet theme.
In future posts, we will provide more details about the Moodle 2 pilot and the transition to Moodle 2 in 2013. We will also go into more depth on some of the new Moodle 2 features, including the Lesson and Workshop modules. Please stay tuned!